Winter Rain, part 54

I growl deeply and reach up to undo my collar. Beside me I hear Brennan rip open his whole shirt. “Bluffing!” I want to whisper to him, but there isn’t time.

Declan and Brawler stumble backward, and Top-heavy turns to run. But Pipe-man isn’t taken in. He raises his pipe to his shoulder, and yells, “Bring it on!”

Suddenly, I hear our car door open and, as I turn to yell at her to stay put, a brownish-grey streak launches from the passenger side and crosses to the wall in two bounds. She leaps it in a third, banks back in, and tears off toward the main road, only her bouncing tail visible above the wall.

It all seems to happen in slow motion, but suddenly time catches up as Declan yells, “Forget them! She’s getting away!” In a heartbeat, he, Brawler, and Top-heavy are all running for their car doors. Only Pipe-man hesitates.

“Stop them!” I yell, launching forward toward Pipe-man. Brennan heads straight for Declan and Brawler, who are already nearly at their doors.

I jerk to the outside and roll beneath as Pipe-man steps forward and swings down his pipe toward my head. I roll up short, beside him and drive my fist up and around his front thigh, hard between his legs, as he overbalances from his swing. He groans and his knees collapse beneath him, his momentum carrying his head toward the ground. An instant later, I slam my left hand into his tailbone as I rise, knocking him forward into an even sharper fall. I reach out with my right hand and sweep his hands out from under him. The pipe slips from his grasp and bounces away. His shoulder and forehead smack into the bitumen and he bounces forward along the ground beneath me. I throw my weight into my knee and drop it straight into his unprotected kidney. The wind rushes out of him with an agonized groan and his hand flails back, weakly, and far too late to protect himself. I knock it away, grab and pull back on a handful of his hair, and drive his forehead into the road.

Behind me, Brennan has Brawler pinned against his car, but Declan is making a nuisance of himself. Brennan sends his leg back and knocks Declan back against his door, using Brawler as a counterweight, but Top-heavy is racing back around the front of the car to join the fray.

I dive forward onto my palms, a few feet in front of Top-heavy, and swing my legs around hard. He tries to stop, but too late. My feet smash into his outer knee, knocking it into the inner one, and sending him twisting down into bonnet of the car. I roll back, away from him, and rise to a crouch as he starts to push himself back up off the bonnet. I launch forward again, low, towards his thigh, reaching forward to grab his knee. His kick is late and slow, and it only helps me yank his knee forward as my shoulder ploughs into his hip. He flails backward, and I push off and roll away from him as he crashes into the ground.

Between the cars, Declan is rising for another cheap shot at Brennan’s back while he wrestles with Brawler. I take off to try to head him off, when suddenly there’s an anchor on my heel. My body jerks taut and I barely have time to get my hands in front of me as I fall toward the ground beside him. I kick back with my free leg, but not soon enough to cut my momentum. I hit hard, my hands and arms sliding into sharp pebbles and rough bitumen, but—too late to help me—my foot contacts something, too. His grip slips from my hands and I pull forward and roll away from him. As I rise, he is slumping back down onto the ground. Fucking idiot! Must have been trying to pull himself up with my heel when I kicked.

I spin to find Brennan pulling up short at the front of the two cars. Brawler is behind him, slumped over the bonnet, sliding slowly down. Declan is lying motionless and face-down on the ground.

“You okay?” he gasps, and glances quickly at my contributions. Top-heavy is out, on his back. Pipe-man is lying mostly face-down, an ugly red smear showing on the near side of his face. His back is moving slowly up and down.

I nod, panting for breath and look down the road, but Keely’s nowhere in sight. When I look back to him, Brennan hasn’t moved. He’s staring at me, his mouth hanging a bit open.

“Get his keys,” I say, nodding towards Brawler. “We need to move his car.”

25 Responses to “Winter Rain, part 54”

  1. K says:

    That was unexpected.  I wonder why Keely bolted?

  2. Kunama says:

    It’s a trap!

    Also, “Fucking, idiot!” looks/sounds wrong.

  3. Good catch on the comma — fixed.  Thanks!

  4. lethe says:

    This paragraph caught my eye:

    “Before he has a chance to move, I throw my weight into my knee and drop it straight into his unprotected kidney.  The wind rushes out of him with an agonized groan and his hand flails back, weakly, and far too late to protect himself.  I knock it away, grab and pull back on a handful of his hair, and drive his forehead into the road.”

    The prose seems to slow down a bit to capture the precise details of the action.  Nice work!

  5. Miladysa says:

    Well I wasn’t expecting that!

    Nor was anyone else :D

  6. srsuleski says:

    pah, bluffing, Tiergan you’re no fun . . . 

    Though they did manage nicely in human form. :D

  7. Vercin says:

    Freakin Keely. Her stupidity is only obvious in hindsight. At least the brutes are all nicely immobilized, now. I say ship them back to Dugan and let him clear up her mess. Definitely the potential to earn some political favor here . . . 

  8. I’m reading this and thinking I spent too much time on making the fight work, and too little (read: no) time on making it Tiergan.  And yet, when I try to figure out where I’d insert reaction from him, I can’t find any place that would work.  But, in the end, the whole thing feels cold and . . . flat. 

    Anybody want to give me a reality check (either way is fine)?

  9. Miladysa says:

    It works for me.

    I think that he is maturing and coming into his own in either/both forms.  He gained confidence with his earlier victory and the events since then.  He appears to be thinking less and relying on instinct more.

    For what it’s worth I think this story is entertaining, it is a great read.  If it jarred with me I would tell you.

  10. K says:

    Now that you’ve pointed it out, this fight does stand out a bit.  Thus far, we get a lot of Tiergan, all the time.  Even in moments of crisis, we always get a look at his thoughts and emotions as events unfold.  I agree with Miladysa that seeing less of that here gives the impression that he’s relying on instinct more and intellect less.

    This makes perfect sense to me.  This fight is different from other crises (perhaps not the right word; cusp events maybe?) we’ve seen because in all the others I can think of, Tiergan either was on familiar ground or had the upper hand.  Here, neither is true.  Tiergan doesn’t have the time to think about what he’s doing, and as things escalate and Keely throws a wrench into the works, he has to react before he can think or even really feel one way or the other about this.

    I think what you see as “cold and flat” is pretty effective here.  It comes across as the sort of emotional distance you’d have to place between yourself and your actions in order to fully commit yourself to acts of impersonal brutality.  Tiergan is running on autopilot and acting on instinct because he’s run out of choices beyond physical violence at this point.

    In any case, I certainly didn’t feel shortchanged here.

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