fiction

Sung Home: Chapter Forty Eight. {fiction}

I jumped free of the fence and ran as fast as I could towards the wagons on the dusty lot, a good twenty Slavers on my heels.

I could smell the stench of greasy guard’s breath behind me. For a moment, I was sure I had misjudged the timing and that I would soon be pulverized by the Slaver’s boots, or worse. I darted around one wagon and between two others, the Slavers splitting around all the wagons, some going between to follow me, and others running around the outside of the cluster to head me off when I emerged.

Just then, silent groups of Makers stood up inside the wagon beds, not noticed at first by the Slavers because of the poor light and their focus on me, at ground level. Armed with long blowguns of narrow-gauge PVC pipe, they blew tiny darts into my pursuers. When hit, each Slaver jerked a bit then continued running towards me, then fell to the ground as if in slow motion.

Several had made it past the wagons and the blow dart brigade, but more Makers with blow guns popped up from behind trees, claiming the rest of them. I flew by Frank, on the ground, who also wielded a blowgun.

“Get them into these two wagons!” yelled one Maker guy, and others fell instantly to the work of loading the fallen Slavers, while some kept a lookout.

I hadn’t slowed down at all, but tore in a circle back around to the gates, now standing open. I bolted in as fast as I could, straight through them.

“Victorio!”

“Here! I’m here! Lakshmi, you shouldn’t be here!”

I ran straight down the entry corridor and paused at the first intersection, not sure which to take.

“Victorio! Where are you?” I called. I knew he couldn’t be far, since I had heard him from outside the gate.

“Here! Here!” I turned and ran in the direction of his voice.

I found him in a large grey cinder block room with several hallways coming off it in the other three cardinal directions — south, west and north. There, in the middle of the room, was Victorio. Locked into an old-fashioned stock, like something out of the Middle Ages. His head and hands emerged from holes, and the top piece was secured with a heavy chain and lock.

I ran up to Victorio, who looked the worse for wear, bruised all over but at least with no missing body parts that I could see.

I crouched down next to him, kissing his swollen lips.

“Ow!” he said.

“Oh god, I’m sorry!”

“Honey, I’m so glad to see you, but if you don’t get me out of this thing, we’re both going to be dead pretty soon. Or worse.”

I popped up and looked around in the semi-darkness for anything I could use to break the lock. In a corner, I spotted some old tool handles, apparently awaiting repairs, or to be disposed of. As I walked over to them, I heard a familiar voice, and not Victorio’s.

It was Lem.

My intestines turned to water for an instant as I turned to face him, emerging from the southern corridor. He stopped momentarily at the entrance to the big room, as surprised to see me as I was to see him. Glancing around, he saw no one else but me, and Victorio, still secure in his stock. He relaxed and swaggered in our direction. He was still on the opposite side of the big room, but closing the distance.

Keeping my eyes on him, I bent my knees just enough so I could reach back for the sturdy axe handle I had spotted, wishing fervently that the axe itself was still attached.

“Well, well! Look who’s here! My old friend who got me and Jeff kicked out of Darian’s!” crowed Lem.

I stood my ground, axe handle in hand, trying to think of what to do.

“I wonder if you’d be as sweet and tender as that friend of hers? The one in the pretty dress?”

I fought down the bile that rose in my throat.

“Naw. She was a nice girl. You’re just cold and hard and tough. But you know, even the worst piece I ever had was still pretty damned good! So, you know…” Lem shrugged and leered.

“Stay away from her!” yelled Victorio, straining to see Lem from his clamped position.

“Or what, Tonto? What they hell are you going to do about it if I don’t?”

“Yeah, stay away from me,” I said raising the axe handle, reflexively sensing the weight and length.

“What are you going to do, sweet cheeks? Hit me with a stick?” Lem guffawed.

So I did. 

As I had hundreds of times since I was named Rabbit Girl, I raised the axe handle, took a sharp bead on my target, and released.

No prey had ever meant so much to me, no matter how hungry I had been. I hit him for Sylvia, for Emma, for Naomi who died while trying to escape the compound all those years before, and for Sammy, whom Darian and his men had tortured to death long before I dared to escape. 

The axe handle connected with a loud thunk just above one ear and Lem dropped like a sack of rocks off a very high cliff. Blood trickled from his temple as his eyes rolled up towards the ceiling, wide with disbelief.

Just then, Jeff appeared from the same hallway Lem had.

It took a second for Jeff to comprehend what he was seeing. He kneeled down at his brother’s side, checking for a pulse. Jeff rose slowly, eyes widening with a tsunami of hatred gathering behind them.

“You bitch! You killed him!” Jeff stalked straight for me and I stood helplessly, my brain completely devoid of any notion at all of what to do next. I tensed, hands now empty, bracing for his assault.

A woman’s hand appeared at the side of Jeff’s neck. He started to turn to face her, but before he could complete his turn, he dropped like a sack of carrots to the floor, next to his brother. Ching Shih stood before me.

“You took care of the first one,” she said, looking pleased with both of us.

Just then, four more Slavers rounded the corner of the west hallway, barreling down upon us like a fury of hyenas.

“Take this,” said Ching Shih, shoving a bolt-cutter into my hands. “Get him out of there.”

She turned to meet the onslaught like a hurricane of swirling arms and legs, cracking one jaw, rupturing a kidney, snapping a spine, and apparently sterilizing one of them for life, all in the time it took for me to dash to Victorio.

As our latest assailants settled into unconsciousness or were rendered incapable of movement by excruciating pain, I snapped the links of the chain until it fell away from the lock holding Victorio. I lifted the heavy stock and grabbed him, draping one of his arms over my shoulder as he tried to stand and largely failed.

“You did save me, Rabbit Girl!” said Victorio, a dynamic duo of pain and joy dancing across his face.

We heard more steps running towards us down the north hallway, from the area where slaves were held.

I set Victorio onto the floor, where he struggled to lift himself despite the cramping of his legs. As Ching Shih and I braced ourselves for another fight, several Makers emerged from the mouth of the north hallway, leading their friends who had been taken with Victorio, along with several other captives.

“Are there more slaves to get out?” I asked.

“Yes,” answered one Maker, “but Slavers are coming behind us. We gotta get out of here!”

“This way!” I gestured towards the open gates.We all sprang like jackrabbits across the street and into the forest, Ching Shih and I half-dragging, half-carrying Victorio. Slowing down a bit as Victorio gained his feet, we cautiously wound our way eastward through an abandoned neighborhood, then south to the Makers’ place.

Such a large group would be easily visible to anyone in the area, and those of us who weren’t injured looked around constantly in every direction. As risky as it was, none of the Slavers came after us. The loss of so many of their own must have made them wary, at least for the time being.

This is an ongoing series from a forthcoming fiction novel by Laura Ramnarace.
Tune in weekly for the next chapter in ‘Sung Home’.

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Laura Ramnarace, M.A. was driven to earn a master’s degree in Conflict Resolution while on her quest to find out why we can’t just all get along. She has published a book on inter-personal conflict, ‘Getting Along: The Wild, Wacky World of Human Relationship’, published a newspaper column also titled ‘Getting Along’, and submits regularly to Rebelle Society. Since 1999, she has provided training to a wide variety of groups on improving personal, working and inter-group relationships. ‘Sung Home‘ is a work of eco-fiction set in southwestern New Mexico.

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