From Chapter 1 of my novel: An immortal stumbles upon a human girl in dire need of saving.
| Check out the Prologue for this novel, preceding this Chapter 1 excerpt, here!
An old friend of mine once said to me "You have the face of heaven, my dear, and the eyes of hell." And these three men who stood there and stared at me now, were indeed caught between heaven and hell. Torn between being inspired to lust by my surreal beauty or inspired to fear by the promise of death in my eyes. But as was usually the case with mortal men, they chose to obey their baser instinct to have me over their inclination to fear me. A mistake they would regret.
The pack turned their full attention to me and away from the girl, their latest victim, who lay curled on the dingy floor. To me the three men looked very much the same - in their mid-forties, nondescript facial hair, well-worn and somewhat soiled clothing, thinning hair with greasy caps pulled low over broad foreheads. As they advanced upon me, exchanging knowing looks and suggestive nods with one another, I made slow eye contact with each one of them, and knew the truth written in their souls.
This was not their first girl, and had I not come along this one would never have seen another sunrise. I could not be certain of how many they had taken, but the parade of tear-streaked and often-bloodied young faces through my mind was more than enough to convince me. These men were a stain upon the human race, and deserved every ounce of what they were about to receive. I smiled, calm, steady.
"Hoo-ee! Lady, you look good enough to eat! You an albino or somethin'?"
"Don't be scared darlin', we just wantin' to have a little fun with ya!"
"Look at 'er smilin', oh yeah she wants it all right! I'm 'bout to give it to 'er!"
I waited until they reached me, holding myself perfectly still as the man who seemed to be their leader (and the one who had gone first with the girl on the floor) came near, and I was doing my best to put fear on my face. It wasn't difficult to look fearful of him - we Eternals, especially us Drifters, are consummate actors. Judging by the gleam of lust rising to a feverish spark in his eye, he enjoyed seeing fear on a woman's face. I baited him, drawing him in and allowing him to press close to me, the unwitting fly in the spider's web. Taking advantage of it, he gave a mocking laugh and slid his right hand inside my duster coat against my left breast. His hand got no further.
Using my own arm to pin his against my side like a vise, I simply stepped to the side to lock his arm out, causing his chest to thrust outward. Without hesitation I kicked sharp and hard to the side of his closest knee, hearing the satisfying pop of breaking ligament and the immediate scream of pain that tore itself from his throat as he went down to his other knee. Then I delivered another swift kick to his jaw, keeping his arm locked and feeling the joints dislocating under the torque of my attack. The unrestrained power behind my kick broke the mandible and fractured the vertebrae in his neck, and I let him drop lifeless to the floor.
By then the other two were almost on top of me, shock and rage in their expressions at my quick dispatching of their leader. I did not have time for this, however, and pushed my long, heavy braid off my shoulder to swing at my back - following the momentum of it I spun tightly in that direction. Whipping my head just slightly ahead of my spin brought me in line perfectly with the body of the second man, and in flawless rhythm the weighted jade ring at the end of my hair cracked him across the cheekbone and dazed him. I continued my whipping dance and took another step towards him as I completed another fast spin, bending my knees slightly and bowing my head to change the trajectory of the swinging braid. This time the center ring slammed into his solar plexus with a sickening thud and the crack of splintering ribs. He collapsed with a wheezing groan, barely alive and fading fast.
The third man was on me as I ceased my spin, swinging at my head with wild punches and eyes to match. I easily evaded his clumsy onslaught, so he attempted to hit me lower on the body in the gut - this was just as easy to avoid, and when the fifth punch went far off target I seized the opportunity. Stepping back in, I placed a driving front kick in the center of his abdomen, and I knew it was like running a locomotive into the soft tissue of his body, blood instantly spouting from his mouth from the internal trauma. He sank to his knees, gasping and clutching at himself, staring around at his fallen accomplices then back up at me.
"Y-you... You're... You're th-the Devil!" He was shaking so hard his voice trembled too.
I laughed softly and shook my head, "No, no. If I were the devil I would have left you to go about your business with the girl. No. I am the one who came to exact punishment for the things you have done, foolish human, and my face will be the last that you see in this world."
He would beg, scream, swear that he did nothing, it was the others who did bad things to the girls and forced him to watch, to participate. But I could see the truth in him, know his lie, and so gave no time for such pointless pleas. I aimed a fast, vicious hooking palm heel strike to his temple that smashed the soft place and winked out his vile life. The second man behind me was no longer struggling to breathe through punctured lungs - their evil had been washed away. And there was no trace of fatigue in me. Ah well. I turned to leave the way that I came in.
A small, weak voice behind me caught my attention. The girl.
She was sitting on her knees on the floor, ignoring the dead men in front of her and gazing up at me. Her face was smeared with tears and dirt, her hair matted together and hanging heavy around her shoulders. A thin, wispy frame was covered with a dirty blue sundress that had been ripped at the hem and in front, exposing much of her chest. She seemed not to notice this, her quaking hands lay tightly clasped in her lap, her green eyes pleading with me.
"Please can... c-can you take me with you?"
I sighed - I probably should have expected something like this. Might as well finish what I had started.
"Listen, get some clothes from the storage room - they are for men but still better than what you have on now, and clean. Get some soap and shampoo, then go out to the lodge in back and use the shower there. Do it fast. I will be waiting out front, to take you back to wherever they took you from. You have thirty minutes, or I am leaving you," I crossed my arms authoritatively.
The girl nodded shortly without a word, climbing to her feet and walking past me, careful to give me and her fallen attackers a wide berth. I listened to her fumbling around in the storage room for a minute, then came the sound of the back door opening and closing. I followed, gathering some small provisions for myself before walking outside to move my car to the front. As I stopped the engine, windows still down, I could hear the girl releasing her pent-up screams from where I sat, and was unmoved. Humans were always so sensitive.
I waited for her anyway, turning on my stereo and pushing the volume dial up high to drown out her hysterics ... 'I am the patron saint of lost causes...' Anberlin sang out to me.
**Anberlin lyrics are from 'Dismantle.Repair.' on the album "Cities" (2007), courtesy of Universal Republic Records**
You can read an excerpt from Chapter 12 here!