Wednesday, November 9, 2011

The Indomitable American (Peek 1)

This is a novella I wrote when I was 18.  Originally entitled "The Green Haired Lady," the 45,000 words were thrown together in two weeks, and while it is an interesting little story, I can't say it's anything special.  This is another one of those works that probably won't see the light of day unless I make it big.  My pre-existing fans would probably enjoy reading it, but people unfamiliar with my work might not.

Anyway, here's the opening scene to the story.

They'd been chasing me for about an hour, since the cold, unforgiving winter sun had broken through the clouds.  The frigid air stung my lungs as I ran through the thickets of spruce and fir.  Powdery snow shook loose from the branches and slid down the back of my coat, freezing my shoulder blades, for I couldn't keep the coat's hood on during the chase.  It obstructed my vision too greatly, and it liked to get hooked on the snowy branches.

            I paused for a minute after plowing through a stand of pines, but before I could catch my breath I heard their raucous voices; the boisterous and rowdy shouts of these bandits on my tail.  The lowlife vermin that had plagued this countryside for half a decade, since the onset of The Greater Depression.  It was scum like them that had forced me out into this frigid wilderness in the middle of January.

            They'd raided my homestead over a week ago, murdered my family, stolen our meager supplies, and torched the buildings.  I'd watched the flames burn all night from the hillside two miles away, and could only imagine the added horrors those savages had bestowed upon my kin.

            Of course, we'd had it coming to us.  We were farmers, who knew how to survive, and had spent the last five years feeding ourselves, while millions of others starved.  Those who couldn't or wouldn't support themselves were starting to band together in these rural lands, and growing gangs were pillaging the countryside, taking whatever they wanted, and killing anyone who stood in their way.

            The federal government wasn't going to save us.  They had their hands full, fending off the hordes of invading barbarians, and putting down the city dwellers.  Those in the country were on their own, and neighbors were often too far away to provide aid in the thick of it.

            So much for the glories of anarchy.

            The chase continued.  I charged forward, down a steep slope through two feet of snow.  I tripped on a fallen tree limb under the powder and went flying downhill.  The snow in my face was another insult upon my existence.  I'd been screwed over so much already.  Did I really deserve to stumble on this final chase?

            I scrambled to my feet as quickly as possible, yet I felt my run was nearing its end.  The killers behind me were almost in sight, and once they spotted me it would be all over.  A single shot, maybe two if I got lucky, and I'd be another nameless corpse left to feed the crows.

            At the base of the hill was a clearing, and looking at the snow I saw the fresh snowmobile tracks these bandits had left on their journey here.  The packed track led down the path that I had trekked last evening, prior to setting up camp within the thickets.  If it hadn't been for the noise of their machines, I probably wouldn't have awoken in time to flee.  These bandits were arrogant and sloppy.  I suppose it only enhanced their hunt to give their prey fair warning.

            My legs were too tired from fighting the cold and the snow.  I could barely stand now, so my time was up.  I could see the tree branches shake halfway up the hill as they came down after me.  In a few minutes, we'd spot one another and it would be my end.

            I wasn't about to go without a fight.

            Reaching for the rifle slung over my shoulder, that's when everything changed.

            A loud crack of thunder echoed across the landscape, accompanied by a blinding flash of light.  I'd been too slow, I thought.  It must have been the bandit's shot ringing out loud and clear.  That was my conclusion, as I felt my life essence suspended outside the physical world, beyond the painfully cold wilderness and harsh world I'd watched crumble to dust during my short lifetime.

            But life was not done with me yet.

            After floating in limbo for what seemed like a century, my senses returned to me.  Yet nothing was the same.  Everything I'd been experiencing was gone.  The frigid air of January was replaced by a warm wind that brushed against my stubble of a beard, and the cold snow against my ankles was replaced by short grass.  The blinding winter sun was absent, and the dim light of the moon provided me with minimal vision to look out upon the forested hillsides before me.

            I stared at my frosty knuckles, and witnessed my hands illuminated by the moon's luminescence.  Turning up at the light source, I saw a curious orange tint on its cold, battered face.  Something of this moon told me I was nowhere I had ever been before.

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