Saturday, July 13, 2013

Worlds within Worlds #9.6

By mutual agreement, we have both trekked around the bay to the place of rabbits so I can set traps. It will be good to taste a roast of meat after our meagre diet of moss and fruits.
In the absence of men, the rabbits have grown both in size and in numbers. They haven't, however, lost their senses of smell and hearing so we were unable to catch them unawares.
I've made Maak-em-ay-are-see a good spear with a sharp stone tip, far better than the weapon he used to help separate his Vital Breath from his flesh when he and Sam were camped on their beach. He told me he has some skill with javelins – whatever they may be – so I've set him to be lookout, stood atop a rock that pushes into the water.
My traps are simple nooses looped around the rabbit holes and staked securely at one side. They will not be pleasant for the rabbits, but will hopefully hold them long enough for me to reach and dispatch them with my knife. There are so many of them here that it is difficult to choose the best holes to snare; their tracks are a mass of confusion.
Brother Sam, too, has left a number of tracks around the long house. Few of them seem to lead round to this side of the bay. Mostly, he seems to stick to the shoreline nearest the long house, with some longer expeditions to the head of the bay and the processional avenue beyond it. I had spotted the rotted remains of a brelfruit bush near to his tracks when we first approached the long house. Brother Luntas would not have had good words to offer if he had seen the mess Sam had made when he tried to harvest them.
Sam has made many messes. I was alone when I found the remains of my bones, stacked in a pile beyond the reach of the water, my skull between my feet. I felt nothing when I threw them into the bay. I could have left them, I suppose: the bone worms had already hollowed the longer shafts in preparation for their final work. But bones would lead to questions; better to let the crabs finish the job.
I am setting my last trap when I hear branches crack. I glance towards Maak-em-ay-are-see, and see a gaunt shape of mad intent rushing towards him.
My sentry is more interested in watching me!
But it is not my shout that makes him turn.
'You're dead! Dead! Get away from me!'
Sam throws something – a rock – at his brother ... who doesn't even bother to duck!
'Use the spear! Throw the fucking spear!'
I watch as he lets the spear clatter out of his hands.
'Sam! It's me, Sam. Marc!'
Sam is not interested in listening. He barely broke step when he threw the rock. With nothing left in his hands, he chooses to throw himself at his brother. I watch them both topple as I sprint across pebbles.
They splash together into the water, Sam's arms wrapped around Marc's hips. And Sam is the first to surface. He may be famished, but his rage makes him quick. As soon as he has disentangled his arms, he pushes them straight down into the water. He screams as loud as the flayman when I took my knife to its neck!
He doesn't notice my approach. When I reach the sentry rock I drop my knife and net and dive in, trusting that the water will be deep enough to receive my body.
It is: I remembered well. I angle my body into a curve even as I descend: my run has taken me past the men and I must turn quickly.
In two strokes I pull alongside the men fighting on the submerged bank of pebbles. Without thought my hand scrabbles for a rock that fits smoothly in its grip.
Without hesitation I smash my fist into the back of Sam's head and thrust him to one side as he starts his collapse. Maak-em-ay-are-see resurfaces in a fit of coughs; I offer him my arms as he struggles to find his feet.
His fist is swift into my face.

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