Sunday, March 13, 2016

Avarice: Chapter Seven

“Mom” Abby called, “They’re coming”.

Abby flew down the stairs and nearly crashed into her father as she rounded the corner toward the kitchen.

“Get back up there, we need to know where they’re coming from” Stay as low as you can. “Glad, you watch north and east, I’ll watch south and west.”

Abby, help Glad keep watch. Here. He handed her a hoe they’d found in the basement. Abby followed Glad to the corner of the living room next to a window. Glad slid the window open a crack and poked the barrel of his musket through the gap.

“Marietta and Vera, you guys call if you see anybody approaching.”

Abby knelt next to Glad. Together they stared out the gaps where the window wasn’t boarded up. She hardly dared to breath. Her shoulder touched Glad’s, but the closeness which would otherwise have felt awkward couldn’t have been farther from her mind.

There was motion near the tree line.

“Do you see him” Abby whispered. “Yes, but he’s too far out for a shot. Don’t let him out of sight.”

Abby’s knee began to ache. Kneeling on the wooden floor hurt, but she didn’t dare move.

Refusing to blink, Abby stared the the moving speck of darkness as it slowly grew. She was startled at how rapidly her eyes seemed to get dry, at how fast they began to lose focus on the her target.

Finally her eyelids collapsed like an exhausted runner. She opened her eyes again, but the little speck was lost. Frantic, she searched the tree line for any indication of motion.


A shot rang out in the distance. Then another.


Her father’s retort echoed in her ears. He was on the other side of the house, but the noise was colossal. The next few moments unfolded like an orchestral crescendo: First, a flash of light below the tree line, then a bang, then a crash as the window above her head shattered, then a roar as Glad’s gun fired in response.

Her dive away from the falling glass felt like an eternity. She watched each fragment as it followed its path to the floor. She watched her hands as they flew up unbidden to protect her face. Then she clenched her eyes shut.

Those two seconds felt like the longest of her life, which made the next ten minutes feel like it took forever. Osman held his finger up to his lips to call for silence. Abby’s right ear rang. Together, they watched and listened for any indication of their attackers. Her heart beat loudly in her ears.

Abby struggled not to cough. The blocked windows kept air from flowing, so the smoke from the musket lingered.

In the distance, she heard men yelling. She couldn’t make out the words; the wind had picked up, and they were far off. The voices got quieter and quieter. She let out a slow sigh of relief.

They were retreating.

Abby and Glad turned and sat together with their backs to the wall, exhaustion setting in as their adrenaline bled off.

Glad turned to her “So why does your brother call you Robin?”

Despite everything around them, Abby couldn’t help but smile. “Jealousy mostly. When we were little I had a way of convincing my parents to side with me any time we had an argument. He says it was because I was the only girl, we both know it’s really just that I’m much smarter than he is”. Glad looked puzzled “That doesn’t really explain the name…”. “It began with our older brother Jackson referring to me as a ‘Robber Baron’ - a title usually given to wealthy and unscrupulous landowners, because Emery was convinced I was bribing our parents to get the best of him. Eventually ‘Robber Baron’ got shortened to just ‘Robin’.”

Night settled on them with an agonizing slowness. Abby tried to keep her mind engaged, but with nothing to do but keep her eyes locked on the tree line, her mind was quick to wander. She would blink, blink again, and then suddenly she’d be diving away from the window again. Over any over she re-lived the roar of the gun, only to open her eyes without even realizing that she’d closed them.

Osman walked slowly around the house, whispering to each person in turn.

“Go up to your room and try to sleep, I’ll keep watching”.

Abby went to her room and laid down, for a time it felt like sleep would never come, but eventually she drifted off.

Then she was diving again. The gun roared, and she awoke, drenched in sweat and breathing heavily. She took several deep breaths, listening to the deafening pounding of her heart in her ears.

As her breathing slowed, the sound of her heart grew quiet. Abby closed her eyes again.

Then she heard the slow creak of a door opening. At first she thought it was just her father, walking through the house… but it was coming from the west. That must have just been the wind. She thought hopefully. “Click”. The sound of a door closing couldn’t be mistaken.

Abby pulled off her covers and tip-toed into the hall. It was a cloudless night, so she could see her path by the light of the moon. She could hear her father walking downstairs, but the noise had come from the second story. Abby wanted to call him for help, but she knew any noise would let the intruder know he’d been heard.

A crash disrupted her thoughts. It sounded like the intruder had tripped and fallen. “Who’s there?” Called Osman from downstairs. “Someone’s in here!” yelled Abby. A cacophony erupted as Osman raced up the stairs and the intruder fled. Osman yanked the door open and charged into the west wing. Abby followed, sprinting from room to room behind her father.

They found themselves totally alone. They stood in silence for nearly 10 minutes, hoping that the intruder would tip his hand and make a move.

They never heard anything. Too alert to go back to sleep, Abby took a seat in the kitchen and watched the sun rise over the trees.

Chapter Eight -->

Copyright 2016 Tyler Smith

No comments:

Post a Comment