The Dull Brown of Murder

Posted: July 28, 2015 in Uncategorized

Chapter 1

An animal’s howl tore through the worst night their lives. The older girl was crying and her big brother was screaming for the men to stop, but they didn’t. There were 8 of them, and they were terrorizing a family. The father had been bound and gagged in the middle of the house, the mother tied up beside. One of the bigger men smashed a sword into the boy’s face and stuffed a wadded up piece of fabric in his mouth. Scratch, the Captain backhanded the oldest girl with the butt of his pistol. The littlest girl, probably seven or eight, but scrawny like a toddler, quit screaming when they heard the howl. The eight men all ran outside, well six of them ran outside, two were already standing at the door. The Captain grabbed a rifle from one of the men at the door.

“What was that?” said Scratch.

“A howl,” said his man at the door. He carried two rifles, and had one loaded and at the ready. The other men fanned out and circled the house.

“Where’d it come from?”

The other man answered by pointing out towards the ocean, to where they’d come from.

“That’s impossible, Bear’s don’t give a fuck about these islands.” The men shook their heads and readied their guns. Eight men, sixteen rifles, maybe twenty pistols, and they were all good with their swords, but none of them had any silver. That shouldn’t be a problem thought Scratch, eight men who know what they’re doing can bring down a Bear, especially a scrawny Island Bear that would live on this shithole rock. He walked inside and surveyed the room, the five family members huddled together as best they could encumbered by ropes and chairs and violence. The father’s eyes ran across his kids, and up to Scratch. They pleaded with something beyond rage or fear, they only pleaded urgency. His eyes only wanted life, for him, and his family. Scratch saw it and sent a hateful fist into his face, determined to kill anything bigger than he was. The urgency died a weak death as his nose broke again with a wet crunch. Scratch spit on the bound man and grabbed the oldest girl’s hair. Her hair was curly and brown, and thick enough to allow a terrible grip. Scratch yanked her head back and forth, her chair wobbled precariously. Her sent her to the ground in a clatter, her shoulder broke when she landed. Her brother strained to kick free from his bonds, but couldn’t. The youngest daughter focused intently at the door. Another howl echoed off the stillness of the hills. The youngest daughter smiled.

The men had positioned themselves around the house. They’d taken loose cover behind trees and an overturned chest. One man had headed over the nearest hill to scout, but the men still at the house didn’t need him to tell them they’d just heard a howl, and not a roar. Scratch stormed out of the house again. He staggered a bit from drunkeness, but not enough to concern his men, who staggered much the same.

“The God Damn’s a Wolf Doing out here?” he whisper yelled loudly enough for the whole troop to hear.

I giant silvery head struck out of the darkness and crunched down on the man he was asking’s collarbone. A spurt of warm blood arched into the moonlight, crimson and strong. The Wolf’s head tore a good chunk of the man to one side, and its body pushed the rest to the other. It lashed out at Scratch and drove its hand into his belly, he dropped his rifle, and the pistol he’d been grabbing at when the Wolf killed his ally. Blood gurgled up in the Captain’s mouth and dripped over his patchy grey beard. Two men fired rifles into the Werewolf, one of him hit square in the monster’s back. Two more fired pistols walking right at the beast. The rifle blast sent the Wolf reeling. It rolled over itself and scurried around the corner of the house. The pistols did nothing but fill the air with smoke and noise. The pirates remaining ran around the house, the first one to meet the Wolf was torn open at the belly, he died in a pile dropping his gun on top of his insides. The next one was smarter, leading with the bayonet, but he moved slowly. He drove his gun into the Wolf, but the creature was too strong, and pushed it up and away from the attacker. It bit its great white teeth into this pirates neck, and he died. The scout had come from over the hillside and readied himself with his gun, and two more men with pistols and swords came from each side. The Wolf charged at one and pounced, her frame was soundless. She left the earth with no cracking of twigs or rustling of dirt and leaf, she broke for the air and drove into the man so hard his bones and body broke into pieces. They shattered and splintered with all the noise that should have happened when she left. A man closed in behind her firing pistols, one ball tore through her arm, but she her heart, and rage, and the darkness that made her something old and pure pumped so hot it mended her wounds almost before she turned around. The magic that made her was pure in the madness this sliver of moon pushed on the earth. She punched her hand out and a claw took out an eye. She cut the other direction and bounded towards the man readying his rifle on the hill. He fired before he turned and ran, but the shot was off. He died screaming when she caught him.

The Wolf was white, and the blood from the pirates’ stained her. Sometimes old ladies would flatter her and call her hair silver, but it was white, and now it was the dull brown of death. She walked limping and growling at the house. She dragged the last man, the scout, a young bald white guy with gold studs in his ears behind her. She neared the house. The family inside was panicked and skittered inside their gags and ropes. The Wolf ducked her head to enter the poorly lit little home. She panned the room and found a knife on the only table in the structure. It fit poorly in her big hand, an extra claw in the middle of her weapon. She cut the father’s ropes first and dropped the knife, he set to work with it faster. He cried and held them as they milled around in shock. When the little girl was cut free she ran to the Wolf and clung to it like one would a family dog. The White Wolf did not smile, but made no move to stop her. The six of them walked outside, seven bodies littered the ground around them. The Wolf scanned them in a panic. The man she’d only injured, the man she’d taken an eye from was trudging along the hillside hundred of yards away. She made to move on him, but the father readied a rifle that was left on the ground and fired at the silhouette before she could. It jerked and fell. It rustled to get up, but the Wolf was tired. She let it limp off to die.

The father mother fell crying, holding their children, and taking turns squeezing them, and kissing their heads. The Wolf started to make a big fire, she dragged logs and corpses to a clearing near the house, but the mother took over and arranged a full pyre. They stripped the bodies of the slavers and gathered up their guns and trinkets, and roasted their bodies on the bonfire. The White Wolf ate a great deal of pirate.

Chapter 2

The man the Wolf had half blinded struggled towards the sea. The hole in his face where his eye had been was hot and felt heavy. It pulled his head forward like the wound brought more gravity. He lurched with the musket ball lodged in his shoulder, disrupting the symmetry of his machine. He did not go towards the tiny boat that brought him there, but down the coast in the other direction. His boat, he figured, now that the Captain was dead, was worthless to him. He could not man it himself, and he was sure that monster would find it. It was probably sniffing around the damn thing now.

His name Roco, but he was called Rock, or Rocky, or Roq, Rocks, and Roach or any other lazy man’s refusal to get his name right. He was an angry and bitter man as burnt black as a crow’s eye. He was wiry and thin and missing an eye. He’d known and shown little kindness throughout his whole life. He had been slaving for three years, thieving for twelve, and living for seventeen. There’s no reason to believe his first two years were particularly sinister.

Roco liked slaving. It was easier than stealing from other pirates, and occasionally you kept a soft one for yourself, or to toss around with the other men on his ship. This crew wasn’t his favorite, but they had worked well enough together, and Scratch was an easy drunk who didn’t cheat at cards. Roco knew he couldn’t retire slaving, but he didn’t think it would cost him an eye, or an arm, or his life. He spit blood and curses in the grass and labored on. He figured he was 5 kilometers from the fort on this tiny island. They wouldn’t open their gates, not with the gun shots they’d heard earlier, and not to a bloody black foreigner in Bear Country, but they’d have something he could pilfer, a store or barn would have something he could wrap his shoulder with, and maybe something to dig the ball out he hoped. He trudged on. Blood leaving a trail of stink behind him.

He did not hear the old man in black robes overtake him. He did not see him walking behind him from when he first reached the beach. He’d walked in silence. He did not even leave footprints next to the man’s he was following, though there was no parable on faith or safety in that fact. The old man in black robes scrapped along the sands gaining on the lurching slaver silently and ceaselessly, until he walked right up on him. In fact he walked with such stealth and purpose, the wheezing, bleeding man he pursued walked in step with him, and even saw him for a moment, before realizing his company was odd and out of place. He startled and jumped, his body pulling apart at the seams when he did so. Parts of his insides he couldn’t see filled with hot blood and his head swam with vague distress. He clawed at his pockets with his one good arm and pulled out a long curved blade.

“No.” The wizard almost sang. His voice was old and distant.

“The fuck, old man,” Roco said, punching his knife at the man’s black robes. He did not move or flinch or parry. Roco’s arms were too short to reach him. He stumbled at the Wizard, his knife thrusting at him, his arm looking to trap him and hold him there. The Wizard moved faintly but quickly and Roco fell to the ground with a squeak that sounded like pain. The Wizard squatted beside him and nodded sympathetically.

He spoke to the Roco in a language he didn’t understand. It was silky. Roco scrunched his nose and hated the way the Wizard spoke. His voice sounded older than words, like the things he said were true, and the words were only there to frame them. Roco’s ears stung and pussing wound in his face buzzed. “What do you want Old Man? I’m dying!” he tried to scream. The Wizard shook his head sadly, and tried more words. Some of them stuck. He was asking about the Wolf, but Roco didn’t care. This man wasn’t here to help him, and now he was too weak to kill him. Roco’s eyes filled up with tears and he cried.

The Wizard turned his head away from Roco, and looked sadly to the sea. He pulled a piece of driftwood from his pocket, and drew a sign like infinity in the dirt. He crossed it with two straight lines, and curved a line between to points, and the driftwood lit up like a candle. Roco’s eyes swelled at the sight of real magic. His cries were too much. His heart broke and all the wonders and hate of oblivion filled and overwhelmed him. The Wizard let the bent crooked boy touch him. He let Roco wrap his good hand up in the folds of his vestment and weep and bleed all over his death black robes. The Wizard held him, and the glow of the fire seemed to pulse with the rolling of the waves in the distance. Roco looked at the Old Man as he took down his hood. His hair was wispy and silver. His skin was olive. He had bright white teeth. His eyes were steady, and his irises seemed too small. They were just a green ring around his pinprick pupils. They seemed deeper than guilt. He smiled and it cracked the world.

The old man rummaged in the leather pouch he carried at his waist. He had another one, a better one, he’d lost years ago, but this one was good, and had what he needed. He took out a simple seed, no bigger or more exciting than one from a watermelon or sunflower. He held it in his fingers and placed it in Roco’s mouth. He didn’t know why he let him. It wasn’t like Roco not to bite a man when given the chance, but the wizard put the seed in Roco’s mouth, then offered him a drink from his waterskin. The water was cold and full of life. Roco breathed deeply and drifted off next to the fire. He screamed for the rest of his life.

As soon as Roco had swallowed the water, and the seed began to take root in Roco’s mouth, it hurt, and wormed poison into his head. The roots hooked in beneath his tongue, and dug into the gap a man’s mandible makes. It swelled and forced down his throat and up into his sinuses. It gagged and choked Roco, but worse were the nightmares. Once in his sinuses the plant branched off and grew into his brain. The pressure was insufferable, it split and cracked parts of his skull, and overwhelmed the soft spots completely. Cartilage exploded in his nose. A thick vine pushed out of the hole in his eye, and pushed out veins and strings of meat with it, its thorns cutting caverns in his frontal lobe. Every scream he’d heard, his own, and the ones he caused echoed eternally in the memories he could not control or contain. He was falling and hiding and drowning. He was on the block, he was in chains, he was a screaming orphan in the Rat Town his mother had died in. Dreams last for ever, and Roco was inside them when he died. He was an old man in the morning.

The sun came up and the wizard stretched towards the ocean. He planted his feet in the earth and reached towards the star that pulls boats to the edge of the world. A small purple berry was growing from the vine that pushed out of Roco’s eye. It was thick like snake. Smaller tendrils grew off of and along it. They wrapped around and grew out of one of the body’s nostrils. His mouth was forced open with a thick crop of leaf and vine. It had an anguished look. The wizard picked the berry and put it in his mouth. He chewed the fruit, and knew the answers to the questions he’d been asking.

He knew where Roco came from, and what he knew about the White Wolf that had killed them. It wasn’t much, but it was something. He buried the pirate under a few inches of sand, and walked towards the mountains.

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