View Full Version : Short Story Challenge #8 - 'The warm feeling had left by now'

23-04-2004, 11:07:47
Welcome to the eighth CG short story challenge!

For this contest, your story should start with the words 'The warm feeling had left by now', but from then on you are free to go wherever your imagination takes you!

Write as much or as little as you like, but please respect the fact that your peers will have to find the time to read your entry

For this one I think we'll try a two week entry period, so deadline is c. the 7th of May.

As always, only one entry per poster.

Comments on stories should be posted in a seperate thread, this thread is for STORIES ONLY

30-04-2004, 15:25:03
The warm feeling had left by now; only the taste of the whiskey remained, lurking in the corners of his mouth. He looked down at the bottle in his hand, frowned at the inch or so of whiskey that sloshed in the bottom. He blew air past his dry, flaking lips; cast a glance through squinting eyes at the horizon. The town was out there, near now, after two months of travelling across this God-forsaken Indian-infested country.
He spat heavily into the sandy dirt, and after looking down at it was apparently satisfied. He tossed the whiskey bottle into the saddlebag of the tired-looking piebald horse that grazed optimistically beside him.
‘Come on girl. Not long to go now,’ he said, slapping the horse’s neck and swinging himself up into the saddle.

‘He’s coming?’
‘Yes, sir, yes he is. Killed three men in Hazard.’
‘Won’t be long then, eh?’
‘No sir, won’t be long at all.’
‘Well, you know what to do. I want him dead.’

Hudson passed the first bag back to Murphy. Murphy took the heavy bag, the coins inside it clinking gently, and tossed it to McInnes. McInnes threw the bag onto the pile with the others in the last carriage. Hudson turned and received the next bag from Curtis. Curtis was receiving the bags from Fletcher.
All the while the train thundered along at a steady speed while at its head, in the engine, Johnson kept a gun pointed at the driver and the stokers.
‘We’re just about done!’ Fletcher shouted back down the train.
‘We sure are’ Murphy said, and he and McInnes both pulled their pistols from their holsters and waved them at the other three who had been loading.
‘What the hell is this?’ Fletcher shouted, ‘Don’t pull any shit!’
‘Shut the hell up or I’ll blow you off the train!’ McInnes snapped back.
‘For chrissakes! Both of you! Don’t do this!’
‘Murphy! Do it!’ McInnes shouted, and Murphy suddenly pulled the connecting bolt between the rest of the train and the final carriage. With a jolt it came free; suddenly they were moving away. Hudson would never forget that image, the faces of Murphy and McInnes dwindling slowly away into the distance as they thundered on.

Later that day, after the Mexicans (who had been tipped off by McInnes and Murphy) had shot Fletcher and Johnson, he and Curtis had been locked in a jail in Capedevila. Seven years later, he was freed as part of a general amnesty to American prisoners. Curtis had died of tuberculosis three years before.

Hudson caught up with McInnes two months after he got out of Mexico. McInnes had wasted his money on five years of drinking and whoring, and Hudson put a bullet in his fat gut in a hotel in Fourtree city. McInnes had died slowly, and Hudson had sat on the bed with the whiskey bottle he had taken from McInnes’ hand, while he watched and listened to McInnes’ pleas for help.
Murphy had been the accomplice rather than the force behind the betrayal, but he had a hell of a lot more brains than McInnes. He had taken the money from the robbery and used it to start himself a business, had done well for himself. Now, the way Hudson heard it, he was mayor of some town out on the fringes of the country.

The crack of a rifle welcomed Hudson to Serenity. He heard the bullet whistle by, and saw at the mouth of the town a small group of five, a sheriff and his deputies. The streets were empty of regular folk. The shot was obviously meant as a warning, and no further fire was directed at him. ‘Hudson, we don’t want no trouble!’ came a shout, ‘Give yourself up now and save us a hell of a mess!’
But Hudson dismounted, drew his own rifle from his saddlebag, cocked it, aimed and saw the surprised lawmen scatter as he fired. He brought the rifle-armed man down with his first shot. With his second he hit another in the arm. Now he ran, leaving the horse in the middle of the street, and headed for the nearest of the town’s buildings.
Hudson found the back door of the building he had run behind, and pushed inside. He emerged into a storeroom for some kind of convenience store. There were no windows, and a door that presumably led to the front of the shop. Hudson heard the sound of approaching boot steps outside the back door. One of the sheriff’s men was trying to outflank him, but did they know he had gone inside? He stood with his back against the wall so that he would be behind the door if it opened. The boot steps came closer and closer and just as Hudson felt for his knife in his belt, they moved slowly past the door. He quickly pushed the door open and found himself facing the back of one of the deputies. Without hesitation he withdrew his knife and plunged it into the man’s back around the kidneys. As the deputy sank with a gurgled cry to the floor Hudson ran around the house in the direction the deputy had come from. Three men stood before him, watching the main street. He fired instantly, killing the nearest with his first bullet. As the second man half-turned, Hudson’s second and third shots hit him in the chest and abdomen, and he too fell dead. His fourth and fifth bullets caught the third man side on, hitting him in his arm and leg and knocking him bloodily to the ground. He lay struggling on the floor and Hudson walked up to him and pulled the gun from his hand.
‘Lie still and stay out of my way.’
He looked around quickly, his eyes searching for signs of any other gunmen, but no sound or sight came forth. He looked along the street, which was no more than a hundred yards long. The mayor’s house was easy enough to spot. Amongst the other shops and houses it was bigger and more expensive-looking in every way. Keeping his gun drawn he advanced towards the front door. As he approached, a scared-looking maid peeked out of the window, and with a shriek ran off. Hudson rushed at the door and kicked it in. The maid cowered in the hall.
‘Don’t shoot!’ she squealed.
‘Where’s Murphy?’ he shouted.
‘Mr Murphy is upstairs. But you can put your gun away, he ain’t no threat to nobody.’
‘We’ll see’ he said, advancing up the staircase.

One by one, Hudson kicked in the doors of the upper rooms until, at last, he came face to face with Murphy, not staring back at him with gun drawn, but sitting propped up in sheets of white cotton from his bed. The face was not the one he had seen disappearing down the tracks those five years previously; this was more of a skull; white haired with thin, blotchy skin.
‘I ain’t going to kill you in your bed, Murphy, get the hell up.’
‘Is that how you say hello to an old friend?’
‘Shut up and get up.’
‘I can’t get up.’
‘You look like shit. What’s wrong with you?’
‘I have cancer.’
Hudson sighed deeply. He looked at Murphy’s face again, more closely this time, and the lined and scored skin seemed weaker, as though it might crack at any minute. He sat down in the chair by Murphy’s bedside.
‘Got it bad?’ he asked, and he knew the answer as he said it.
‘Look at me.’
‘Ah, hell, I already seen enough. This whole town smells of you and death.’
‘Doc says I’ll be dead within the month.’
Hudson looked at him again. The eyes that looked back at him were resigned.
‘I always wondered if God would catch up with you before I did.’
‘Maybe he did. Maybe you’ll be next,’ Murphy said with a little venom. Hudson laughed.
‘Yeah, well what the hell, I ain’t got nothing or nobody to live for anyhow. Just a dream to put a bullet in your head one day.’
‘I don’t mean to deprive you of that. You’ve earned it - sent enough men to their graves to get to me.’
‘That I have.’
Hudson got out of the chair and wandered over to the window. In the street below, the priest and the undertaker were cleaning up the mess. The man he had only wounded had been hastily bandaged.
‘You want me to put a bullet in you, Murphy?’
‘What kind of man would say yes to a question like that?’
‘The kind who has a lot of pain to come and knows he’s going to die anyway.’
Murphy’s eyes broke contact with Hudson’s. He stared down at his hands, as thin and blotched as his face.
‘I ain’t got long to live.’
‘That ain’t a yes or no, is it?’
‘I don’t want to die,’ he said, his voice trailing off into sobs suddenly.
Hudson looked at the man: his wet eyes, his trembling mouth.
‘You’re a hell of a coward.’
‘I don’t want to die,’ he repeated, sobbing still.
Hudson shot him in the head. The bullet entered just off centre, above the right eye, and Murphy’s head snapped back and lay still, as blood leaked forth slowly and steadily onto the crisp, white sheets of the bed.
Hudson stared at Murphy’s corpse for a while and then walked back out of the room and down the stairs. The maid scampered behind a cupboard as she heard him approach.
‘Have you kilt him?’
Hudson looked her in the eye, but continued to walk towards the door.
‘You bastard. You rotten bastard,’ she said after him, ‘What kind of man shoots a defenceless invalid in cold blood?’
Her words faded away as he walked back out onto the bright, hot street.
The priest was still attending to the last of the dead men as Hudson emerged. The priest looked at him and crossed himself with bloody hands. Hudson could feel the stares of the frightened eyes of the residents, peeping out from behind the shutters of their houses. His horse had wandered over to a water trough and was lapping at it. He walked slowly up and mounted the horse.
‘Come on girl, we’re done’ he said.

19-05-2004, 21:55:11
OK, here’s another one (bound by the limitations of my English unfortunately).

The warm feeling had left by now; it had threatened to lure him - there for a moment - but trusted fear saved him. The medieval gateway’s stone arch as it draw closer with every step, that thin smell of roses brought in by a delicate whirl of spring air from the nearby well attended gardens, some distant music dancing playfully around him having found her way there hand in hand with the sound of young companies laughing in some local fair a couple of streets down and his soul mate; walking next to him, every word felt, every feeling understood and the promise of a lifetime almost made him close his eyes and bleed all his happiness to the stone path.
And despite the betrayal that was to be, at that moment, he couldn’t stop the overwhelming bliss exploding from his heart and the realization leaked through his formerly careful lips, spoken quietly and with furry because he knew too well he would not carry it on: “This is the way it is supposed to be”.

She heard him and she smiled gently bowing her head down. It was not for the Fates to see the hope sparkle for a second in her dark eyes. If the Fates spot you rejoice, they could take it away and pain is the only sacrifice that bends them; both knew none afforded to ignore.
By that very evening the betrayal would be complete. Everyone would pay the price, him perhaps more than any other. And the only reward would be that the coming torment would be a known one.
To make her hate him would be some task, one he couldn’t be sure to accomplish. But he took twisted solace in knowing that just showing his fear would probably be enough. If he denies everything she is, that for which he loves her so much, it would mean he’s a coward, a petty hearted closed mind fool, one like so many others that infest this world, the ones you run to take cover from, the ones that hurt you to the inner leaves of your heart because they question the very right of your existence and then you don’t pay them any more attention; but silently compromise with whosever will saw fit they live and breathe on the same land as you.

She asked him that evening, inside, innocent like a lamb walking to its slaughterer or was it disdainful like a warrior taunting on the approaching hordes because she knew she was right. He told her - his fear a more ferocious giant than any other feeling could sting to slumber - but not even the one for which God put man on this earth. She listened. Ashtrays were full and the night had long arrived and it was like a ritual, an ancient ritual, a pre-written tragedy that men are doomed to play again and again throughout time. But the heroes, this time, as much as the heart breaks, were them. And the pain was all theirs as well, a tad more than what shoulders could bare.
Then they rose from the large wooden table and walked inside, the dark old corridor like a mother devouring her well-known children. And the foreign night’s veil was waiting, ready to tear them to shreds as mercilessly as she does daylight.

He had his fear to shield him, the one who always vindicates him like the incomprehensible mumblings of an ugly old witch fortune-teller as old as time and as sharp as the knife that points ahead to a hair raising unknown should you go against her warnings. She had nothing but a broken mirror and then the why and the setting undeniable disappointment.

And time went on, and they lived and time came where they never saw each other again ever, each going his own distant way and it is God who will punish who should be punished because rarely has truth been slaughtered so cold heartedly and fear in love is the only offence mortals are not pardoned for.