Squirrels: This time it’s personal XVII
This is part 17 of the CBS Chain Story.
My part is continued from howanxious.
Evening descended. Light spread like a grey shroud over the land. No sound of birds. No buzz and rattle of insects. The grey grass bent to the ground in its genuflection to decay. The dying sun glinted off the glossed black boots of the man who decided it was time to step out into the open.
He stood for a long time watching. Shadows moved in the trees. If he turned his head to look, there was nothing there. Far off he could hear a rhythmic pounding. Dull and steady like an insistent heart. He would go to it.
They sky’s grey eye glared down on him.
“Watch me if you want, you’ll be blind soon enough,” he said under his breath. No sense in provoking the sky, especially since once the sun went down, this world would come alive with ears and he would be at a disadvantage. The squirrels were here. They could find their way in the dark. He could blow their heads off, but he had to see them to do it. Out the corner of his eye he caught the furtive motion of a curved back, a long tail, a pointed talon. But when he looked he saw nothing.
He started walking, every sense sharpened to a knife’s edge.
The cold weighed on him. He came to the crest of hill and in what light was left, he looked down onto an open vale. A man was there, walking away to the horizon. He watched the man’s broad back, his long hair hanging like black weeds. He knew that man. He hated that man.
“Aragorn, you draggle headed weasel. Go to the Goddess, for all I care,” he hissed between his grey teeth.
The pounding was louder now. A steady banging, and something else. A woman’s voice? Yelling? Desparate?
Inside her coffin, McAdams watched Aragorn leave. She beat on the coffin, unwillingly to give up and resign herself to her fate. She held on to her anger to keep the panic from taking over. Even after she couldn’t see him anymore, she kept pounding. The sound of her fists against the glass was comforting. She would keep it up as long as she could. She would beat back death for as long as she could. Her shoulders ached. Her fists were blunt objects of pain.
“Never imagined this is how I’d go,” she said aloud to herself. “Buried alive. Who’s buried alive in a glass coffin? I’m not bloody Snow White. I’ll be damned, if I’m going to wait here for a prince to save me.”
She beat at the glass. At least the squirrels can’t get to me, she comforted herself with that knowledge at least.
Eventually, her arms gave out, even if her anger hadn’t. She slumped against the wall of her coffin. How had she ended up here? Where was Gosling? What was that lump against her hip?
“It’s killing me,” she said as she ran her hand along her hip and felt the bulge in her pocket. She still had her gun. Whoever had brought her here hadn’t thought to check her pockets. Why would anyone disarm her when they thought she was dead?
“Aragorn, I’m going to send you to the Goddess, but first, I’m going to shave your head.”
She held the gun out, closed her eyes and pulled the trigger.
The world shattered around her. A great explosion of glass and shard and glint and flash in the last light of that pathetic sun. The cold rushed over her. The air was heavy and smelled of what? Squirrel?
She brushed the shards away and sat up. He went that way, she thought. “That’s where I’m going, then.”
A man’s voice answered her from behind. “You won’t catch him tonight.”
She wheeled and leveled her gun at a man dressed in black. “Mister, I will blow a hole in you so big the moon could rise out of your chest.”
He smiled at her.
“I remember you,” she said.
“I remember you, too,” he answered. “You’re a hard one to find.”
“I was dead.”
“Glad you’re over that. You have the ring still?”
He walked past her, even while she held the gun in the air. His shoulder brushed against hers.
“Where are you going?”
“Follow me,” he said.
He didn’t answer. Just kept walking toward the trees. He was hard to see now in the dusk. This place reeks of squirrel, she thought. She holstered her gun and hurried after him.
“Hey, wait up,” she said. “Where are we going?”