|This piece features post- apocalyptic earth, where people lived in clans with the Blacksnakes as the main troublemaker. Adrian Blackcross is a stray mercenary hired by Blacksnakes to deliver a leader- Ellen Greywall - of one of the opposing clans- The Falconers, anagramed Franc Soel. She attempts to escape from his lair.
The coast was clear.
Ellen peeped from the tiny crack of the door and to her relief, Adrian was not there. She was staring out at a wide, ancient-looking hall, as cosy as a barn house. Cemented floors with rushes, a large fireplace at the end with a high, beam-supported ceiling. There were several tables scattered around. The smell of gasoline floated in like the strong aroma of baking bread.
Cautiously, she bent down to pick up her steel stave, but it felt oddly slippery. It was her palms. They were sweating and wet. Her heart thumped and thumped in panic. She had witnessed too many murders and crimes to believe any Blacksnake person could be good. Even if they pretend to be. Calm down, Elle! She took in several deep breaths and closed her eyes in concentration, reading the surroundings. There was a faint noise of rock music playing, mixed with the clatter of crockery. Sounded like washing dishes.
No time to waste. Ellen opened the door gingerly and crept out, the steel stave in a death grip. A great long
table was in the middle of the room. She dove for it, looking for an exit through its legs. Nothing. No doors. Nothing except for a narrow corridor leading to more doors. The doors where the dish washing came from.
A pistol was lying idle on the table. Yes! Ellen grabbed it and slipped it into her empty holster. Her confidence rose. Stealthily, she crawled along the table on the icy floor and finally came to the mouth of the corridor. No noise should be made, and she was as careful as walking on eggs.
Outside, an aging owl hooted its warning.
It would be disadvantageous for her to be confronted in the corridor. The walkway was tiny and she would be over in a minute or two. Distance was essential, especially with large men.
She would lure him out.
Ellen glanced around and saw a metal pipe that ran from the ceiling and into the ground by the corridor. She raised her stave and banged it. A deep, metallic growl was produced. She ambushed him and waited.
It didn’t take long.
There was no sound of panicked running feet, smart enough. As soon as Adrian’s shoulders materialized, she attacked, throwing out her stave. It brushed the back of his head as he winced, but didn’t hit him. He spun to her and grasped the stave. She shot forward to his side and pulled at it, bending his arm backward. He released it. Ellen rammed the end into his back. He moaned but reached into the drawer of a nearby dresser. Another pistol. He shot. She dodged and threw the stave at him like a boomerang; he flinched, so it clattered to the floor harmlessly.
Seeing the miss, Ellen rolled and ducked behind a piece of furniture. Gun at the ready. Footsteps approached. She spun out and fired wildly.
The sight of him had fuelled her into fury. Suddenly, all the fear left her and was replaced with angry adrenaline. He may be all big and macho, but she was more agile. And now, Ellen Greywall would fight for her life.
A bullet must have caught him. She saw blood pool on the calf of his trousers, dirty red against army green. He bent down to touch his wound, but recovered rapidly and headed for her. It didn’t mattered nor stopped him. She tried her pistol again. Drat! She was out of ammunition. Ellen slid the gun back into her holster and felt a hand swish past her shoulder. Quickly, she did a backward roll and was on her feet.
He was trying to grab her. And her hit her. No sooner she stood up his fist met her jaw. The punch was hard. She staggered but remained balance. Her back was facing the fireplace. He swung again. She ducked and reached for a poker in the fire, slipping out from the cornering. It was burning hot. Immediately, she thrust it at another coming fist, blocking the punch. He pulled his hand back, skin scorched red. Adrian’s other hand reached between bookcases and yanked out a sabre.
What kind of guy kept weapons hidden around his house?
Like a lightning flash, he lashed it out at her. A soft groan escaped him from the leg injury. She countered it. Bright blade against steaming poker. Steel hissed and scraped. His sabre swept her left arm. She stopped it, yet the tip sliced her flesh. Blood oozed and pain gnawed like ants. She paused for a split second. He slung her poker away with his sabre. It fell to the ground. She was defenceless.
Ellen drew out her empty pistol and flung it at him. It caught him off guard and square in the belly. She heard him suppress a grunt. This was her chance. She ran forward and snatched the sabre, ready the plunge it into his shoulder like tearing mutton.
She was so close to striking that fatal strike. Too close but Adrian’s unscathed hand shot out and held her throat. With
remarkable strength, he flung her towards the tall bookcases like a filthy rag doll. She crashed against the solid wood, the back of her head smashing against the sharp edge of the rack. Heavy volumes tumbled around and onto her. Pain exploded in her skull, her vision blurred and unfocused. Ellen could see the outline of Adrian walking steadily towards her. She tried to climb to her feet, but without much success as he seized her by the neck again.
“No one escapes from me,” he snarled like an enraged animal. She swallowed, choked and tugged at his strong fingers, but to no avail. He lifted her higher, her toes now only skimming the floor. He applied extra force, squeezing life with his nails digging injuriously into her flesh. She was losing breath, fading fast. Ellen met his gaze; - his once blunt green eyes were flaming and belonged to only possessed men. Possessed men ready to murder. To kill. Her pulse raced. Still, he did not release. Then she saw her chance.
With any ounce of strength left, Ellen heaved her legs up, wrapped them around his neck and threw him to the ground with her weight. That was unexpected. They both slammed to the cold floor. He released her. She kicked him beneath the chin with her free leg. His head snapped back. Ellen sucked in a wheezing breath and twisted the arm that held her in a dead lock. Elbow perpendicular to the ceiling. She held his elbow down and he tried to get at the handle of his fallen sabre. She booted it away.
She could have killed him then and there, but she wanted information, he would be a good source. Ellen ran her hand down his neck and struck his carotid artery. The energy left his body and he fell unconscious.