Tuesday 21 June 2016

The Prince of Exiles, 21

"Hello," I say.

She steps back, levels her gun, similar to Makara's, the same faintly obscene lines, at me. She is barrel-chested, short, broad; upper arms bare with hard, defined muscles. Just visible within the gorget of her lacquered breastplate a riveted iron collar. I imagine her as a child, sold; growing up beaten, trained, indoctrinated.

"You will return to your quarters, Guest." Her voice only slightly muffled by the mask that covers all but those narrow green eyes.

"I wanted to have a walk."

"You will return to your quarters, Guest." That same tone, no inflection.

I am apologetic. "I can't. Really, I can't."

She raises the gun higher. "You will return to your quarters. Guest."

I hold my hands up, palms towards her. "I'm sorry."

She pulls the trigger, but before it even engages I have already batted it away with my left hand and the bolt, a cracking sound, a pinkish flash of light, leaves a molten black pit in the wall relief beside me; with my other hand I put my fingers over her mask, tearing it away from her face, forcing her to pitch forward. She uses the force of my movement to propel herself forward, pitching into my stomach, and I stagger back, allowing her to level the gun for a second shot, point blank; I drive my knee up under the barrel up and the bolt penetrates the ceiling; burning bits of plaster rain down.

I drop the mask and drive the heel of my hand into her face. Something cracks, he nose collapsing under the force of the blow. She falls back, her breastplate clanging on the floor.

The glassy stare of death. She was much younger than I thought. Barely out of her teens.

I stand there looking over her, hand ruffling through my hair. "Really, I'm sorry."

[Collected Writings Index