Saturday, September 12, 2009

The Kicker

So here's the answer to two questions. The first is, "What do you mean you use your art as inspiration for the novel?" The above image was done before I wrote the following scene. When I need a bit of landscape or a creature, I look to my art.

The second question is, "Can he write fight scenes?" Well, I'll let you answer that one.

And again, looking at the weird-ass formatting on my cut-and-paste, I hate Word.

The thing standing on the top of the ridge looked like a piece of architecture to me, a twenty-foot arch shaped like an inverted V, a bone-white shape outlined against the light of the sky. I saw the crown of teeth that projected at its top, the jaw-shaped protrusions that it stood on. It had no eyes, no mouth. Nothing but bone and teeth.

Eyeless though it was I knew it stared at us and as I stared back I hated it. The wrongness of it filled me with rage. I wanted to take it in my hands and pull it apart like a wishbone, I wanted to smash it with a rock. I hated that it was bigger than me. I hated the way it stood so still. I knew I’d hate it even more if I saw it move.

It moved. Crown and feet rigid, the columnar legs connecting them flexed with a whippy stiffness that made me think of fishing poles. It took two steps and leaned forward, its off-center balance that of a gyroscope. It slid down the scree as if on skis, its toothy crown bobbing as it came.

Gar launched himself uphill, scrambled around to its right, and Pike went the other way, flanked it. The Deacon drew his pistol and shot at the thing’s crown.

As he fired, the bone thing snapped its crown down at Gar and the ghost bullet curved past it and hit the slope. There was a bang and a flash and then an avalanche of broken bones came rolling down the slope at all of us.

Pike bit at the thing’s toothy foot and it kicked him, sent him flying. When Pike hit the ground he let out a howl that sounded like a scream and went on and on.

The avalanche hit Gar and the bone thing; Gar scrambled and managed to stay on top of the debris. The bone thing caught it like a wave and rode it downhill. The Deacon took aim but before he could fire the avalanche caught him, sent him sprawling, half-buried him.

The thing pulled back one foot and aimed the big tooth at its end at the Deacon. Without thinking I jumped for its other foot, grabbed it and heaved. The weight made my feet sink into the loose ground. The creature tipped until I thought for sure it was going to topple.

It didn’t.

Gar was dancing around, barking furiously, and Pike still screamed. The bone thing whipped around and snapped its foot at me. I ducked, then grabbed the foot. It kicked again and sent me flying. Its legs flexed jointlessly as it came for me. The crown of teeth at its apex snapped down. I rolled to one side and felt the impact as it smacked into the ground, then drew itself up to its full height. It pulled back a leg to kick at me again.

There was a report from the Deacon’s gun and a flash at the thing’s crown. It froze, balanced on one foot. Gar dashed in, fastened his jaws onto the thing’s foot and growled as he jerked his head back and forth. Two more shots and the bone at the thing’s apex cracked; two more and it split in two. As the halves fell away a fire poured out of the break in the bone and left a stray soul the size of a basketball hanging in the air.

With a sputtering noise red petals of flame peeled back, curled up and turned into worms of black ash as the soul sank to the ground. In the end nothing was left of it but a fist-sized piece of ash that crumbled and blew away.

The Deacon was still buried up to his waist, face bruised and cut. He grinned and gestured with his pistol.

“You see that, boy? You see that?”

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