It's always Nazis. Weird Tales Contest Winner (photo prompt)
|Katherine flashed her lashes at the waiting boys. "Keep those shirts on, darlings, I'll be right there."
Jonathan T. Wilbur Jr. wrung his hands, but there was nothing he could do. Katherine had already grabbed a cigarette and breezed back to the tent in a cloud of red-golden curls. The woman was a force of nature, and his big-name star. She was worth ten of him. Problem was, she knew it. This film would change that, though, with the allure of the Arabian desert, the beauty of Sherezade, the thrill of danger, and the intoxication of romance. He might be making it with Dad's money, but this film would make him. In fact - no, no, no! "Buddy, send those guns packing. And get rid of those damn Nazi uniforms - this ain't no broadside - Jesus!"
Katherine stepped straight from the tent into a nightmare. Men diving under tables, blood and broken glass, acrid smoke, the cracking of gunfire, and booted gunmen with dark faces: this was no place to be. But all eyes were on the horror, so she slipped behind the trailer, and slunk toward the cracked facades of the desert city hovels.
Damn! She side-stepped into an alley, and swung into a brisk walk. Even a city girl knew better than to run from a predator, especially in heels, and Katherine's veins flowed with ice. She ducked between sheets hanging from a low clothesline, then paused, and snatched a hooded robe from the line, draping it over her head and shoulders, and crossing into a new street. Breathing carefully measured, the actress hunched into the bent posture of a much older women heading to market.
Within moments, heavy feet and cursing passed her, and the Nazis scattered. Katherine was alone in the great shifting crowd, ten thousand miles from home. Listening to Jonathan T. Wilbur was without a doubt the worst decision she had ever made.
The hours passed slowly, and she made her way through the city, looking for help, or even for water and rest. But she didn't speak Arabic, and the authorities wouldn't hear her, much less understand. In the States, she was a movie star: here, she was penniless and afraid in a foreign land . Desperate, Katherine continued, parched and aching, back towards the edge of the city, back toward the horror: back toward everyone in the world who could take her home and make it all end.
But the Nazis hadn't left. They walked the set, spoke their guttural German, and laughed at the men huddling in a circle by the fire. In their center was a man in a suit and crumpled top hat: one Jonathan Wilbur. So much for that idea. She couldn't help but sigh.
"Halt, wer da geht?" a booted goon called out.
Katherine practically dove into the nearest hovel, trying to get away. She scrambled to lock the door, and fell loudly into a pile of props. Frantic, she clawed her way to her feet among Mr. Wilbur's old junk, when a new voice entered her ears. "Your blood is known to me, and your spirit calls. What is it you wish?"
Katherine lifted in her hands a small bottle whose stopper had fallen, and the sense of a powerful presence filled her. Muffled, angry German sounded just outside, drowning her eloquence in fear. "I need to get out of here, now. Unless, of course, you can do something about the slavering Nazis outside."
"Ha!" the presence laughed, his booming voice rising. "You have the spirit of a roaring tigress. It is fitting that you ride one, as well."
The echoes from the rich male voice rose until they shook the small building at its foundations, until the entering Nazis fell at her feet. Still, the sound rose, and Katherine bit a shriek short as the very roof fell around her. The hovel itself fell beneath her, and she found herself riding side-saddle on an enormous creature, one that dwarfed the streets and houses below, one that towered above the gunmen. A tall and well-muscled djinni, bearer of the voice, road shirtless behind her.
A swipe of the paw felled three of the uniformed men, and the giant tigress bounded into the desert, pausing only to growl at a pair of bedouins on camels below. It must have been a sight: her lounging sideways in her emerald dress and bouncing waves of red-gold hair, her handsome shirtless savior behind, and both riding upon an enormous and savage green-eyed tiger.
"I am Aramu, she of the golden blood. I have been trapped within the bottle as ages passed since the time of Abraham, awaiting your fate, but you have freed me. How may I serve?"
"Aramu? Enchanted to meet you, I'm sure, but let's be rid of those rude men. I dare say it was you they were looking for - I have heard Nazis will scour the ends of the earth for signs of magic. Shall you give it to them?"
"She of the golden blood, it will be my pleasure. They will be scattered to the wind."
The actress batted her lashes prettily. "Darling, you can call me Katherine."