I Walk Alone (A Chuck Wendig Challenge)

Posted: November 17, 2015 in Fantasy, Fiction, horror, Uncategorized
Tags: , , , , ,

So this week’s challenge was the Random Song Title Palooza. So I swiped Pandora on my phone, and the first thing that popped up was Tarja’s I Walk Alone. It’s probably worth mentioning that I was only required to take the title and there’s no real connection between the song and the story that follows.

I had fun writing this, though it is very similar to a lot of other pieces I’ve thrown out there in the past. I like the general sense of the setting, and I think Natasha might be the kind of character I come back to.

A cold drizzle falls on Natasha, the cobblestones under her booted feet glistening under the gas lamps. She pulls her cloak tighter around her shoulders, ducks her head down. She turns down a side street, eyes fixed straight ahead. The three men behind her have been following her for about ten minutes now, trailing after her, herding her where they think they want her to go.

She slips down an alley, the rain coming harder now. She wrinkles her nose at the smell of wet trash left unattended too long. A young waif stares at her as she passes, large brown eyes staring sad before a man’s calloused hand grabs her shoulder and pulls her back into darkness. More twists and turns, walking faster now. She’s in the part of the city called the Warrens, a rats’ nest of tenements and squats. No gas lights in this part of town, only a few guttering fires set by the unfortunate, torn between the danger of setting their home on fire or not freezing.

The steps come faster behind her now, the men seeking to close the distance, worried she’ll give them the slip now. The Warrens is perfect for their sort of work. The inhabitants know to keep their nose out of business that doesn’t concern them and the Watch never enters short of a full squad and full armor.

Natasha slips into a narrow alley and ducks back into a doorway. She reaches out, grabs hold of the shadows surrounding her. She tugs and pulls, concealing her form in darkness. Her pursuers sprint past, skid to a stop in the muck of the alley when they see it is a dead end.

“Where’d she go?” one asks, his hand tight around the cudgel he carries in his right hand. Natasha is close enough to see the water dripping off the hooked beak of his nose. “Damn her eyes.” The oath is uttered without malice.

“Think she went inside?” one his companions asks. He steps to the doorway opposite where Natasha has concealed herself. To the surprise of no one, it is locked.

“Are you sure this is where she went?” the third asks, his voice a thin nasal whine.

“Shut up, and keep looking.” The first approaches a mound of trash piled against one wall. He covers his face with his cloak, jabs the cudgel into the refuse.

“Come on out girl,” the second one growls. “The harder you make it for us, the harder we are going to make it for you.”

Natasha smiles, her fingers closing around the long dagger she wears close to her body. It would be easy enough to stay hidden until the three grew bored and left, or to disappear now, leaving them with nothing but the trash and refuse. That, however, would be a waste, seeing how she’d taken the trouble to lure them here in the first place. Their weighted coin purses were a nice bonus, she thought with a wicked grin. She drops the shadows she’d gathered as she draws her knife. She strikes swiftly, the tip of her blade punching through the whining one’s windpipe. He falls, gurgling, his hand reaching for the ruin of his throat.

The second turns as Natasha strikes. The cleaver in his hand deflects her blade, but not enough. He cries in pain as it cuts a red, wet line cross his arm. His partner hold back, his frustration clear on his face. There is enough room for only one to come at her at a time, and she has them pinned, their backs to the alley wall.

Her opponent drops into a fighter’s crouch, blade held up, arms and legs loose. He feints a cut at her head, twists the blade to come back at her midsection. Natasha sucked her stomach back, feeling the air of the blade’s passage, feeling the water spray on her face. She steps in, her free hand snaking out, grabbing the man’s wrist. He grins at her, revealing a brawler’s set of teeth, all cracked or missing. His grin turns into a wordless howl of pain as she twists hard, breaking his wrist with unnatural strength. She doesn’t let go, driving her blade under his arm and into his stomach, punching through the boiled leather cuirass he wore for protection.

She lets the man drop, clutching his stomach, knowing he is already dead. She steps backward, forces the last one to come at her.

“What manner of devil are you?” the last one hisses. He draws a long thin blade from his belt, approaches with blade and club held warily.

Natasha lets her cloak fall open, revealing the medallion hanging around her neck.

“The Watch?” He narrows his eyes, confusion writ large on his face.

“Three nights ago, you and your friends attacked a young girl. Violated her. Left her broken and dying.” Natasha spits the words.

The man chuckles. “So we had a bit of fun with some street trash. Since when did the Watch care about any but the quality?”

Natasha smiles, feels her hunger, her curse coursing through her body. With a pain bordering on pleasure, her fangs extend. She hears the pounding heart beat of her prey. The sweet tang of blood spilled hangs in the air, driving her thirst.

The man stumbles back, the cudgel dropping into the muck as he fumbled for something around his neck. “Vampire,” he hisses.

“It is common practice for the Watch to travel in threes, even when among the quality,” Natasha says. “Safer that way. And anyone who wants to live long in this city knows to travel in groups. But I walk alone through the night, and you never questioned why.”

Natasha sprang at him, fangs bared, knocking aside his weapon with ease. A short, sharp scream cut off echoed from the alley only to fall suddenly silent.

A short time later Natasha emerges from the alley, her thirst slaked for now. She still has a patrol to finish, after all.

  1. C. King Grey says:

    Really cool. Have you considered publishing?

  2. Tom says:

    Nice, action-packed and suspenseful story. I liked the way you placed the characters in the setting unobtrusively. Skilful hidden narrator stuff.

    • Thanks Tom.
      I was going for a slightly cinematic feel to it, trying to figure out what the camera would see, when to pull back, when to get in close, that kind of thing.

      Well, that and action scenes are a helluva lot of fun to write.

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