16Sunsets – Showdown


“Joaquin, I’ll distract them, you run away.” Peter ignored a look of disbelief from Joaquin and continued. “Head south until you hit a service road and follow it to a town.”

Two mercenaries burst through the door. Joaquin staggered back and tripped over a fur cast aside from the construction of the football. He fell on his rear and a yelp of surprise escaped his lips. Peter spun and charged toward the mercenaries, ignoring shouts to freeze and to get on his knees.

The lead mercenary raised his weapon and the bark echoed off the tall ceiling. Peter fell against the table flipping it on one side, blood flowing from neat hole in the center of his forehead. The other mercenary trained his weapon on Joaquin as the one who killed Peter knelt to check for a pulse.

He reached, and before his fingers could find their way to the carotid artery, he slumped forward. Peter leapt to his feet, a wooden table leg in his hand. The wooden leg made contact with the remaining mercenary’s weapon. The weapon vibrates with the impact and the mercenary loses it. It’s tethered to his combat vest, but for the time being, it dangled at his side.

The mercenary recovered and thrust his open hand toward Peter’s solar plexus. The heel of his hand made contact and Peter staggered back, the wind escaping with an audible ooph. The mercenary leaped forward and grabbed Peter by the hair and started to bring his knee up.

Peter lunged with the tips of his fingers into the armpit of the hand gripping his hair. He felt one or more finger joints bend in ways they weren’t designed to do. The mercenary staggered backward, but not before the momentum connected his knee with Peter’s nose. Peter tried to shield himself from crashing to the floor, but the pain of his bloodied nose caused his free arm to pause, not knowing what to do. His shoulder slammed against the floor, reverberation travelling down his arm causing instant numbness. Peter rolled on his back, reaching for his shoulder.

The shoulder distracted him to the movements of the mercenary. The merc came down hard on Peter’s back, punching Peter in the kidney. He’s too good, thought Peter. He may have acquired the skills of the lead mercenary, but mercenary number two had more training and skills and knew how to use them properly.

The weight of the mercenary on Peter suddenly vanished as Joaquin lunged slowly. Peter could see Joaquin’s body parallel to the floor as he made contact. The mercenary rolled with the impact, and used Joaquin’s momentum to throw him towards the cabin door.

Joaquin struck the porch and rolled to a stop. The mercenary got up to advance on Joaquin, but Peter staggered to his feet and attempted to stop the mercenary with a bear hug.

“Run, Joaquin!” Peter screamed as he clasped his bloodied wrist around the barrel chest of his target. The mercenary threw his head back and hit Peter’s already injured nose. Peter lost his grip, staggered back and fell to the floor next to the fireplace once again. It’s not death that he feared, but only that he wouldn’t allow Joaquin enough time to escape. To get far enough away before he died and his power triggered.

Peter’s foot seemed to lash out by itself as the mercenary turned toward him. His booted foot stuck the mercenary’s leg squarely on the kneecap. The pain was evident on the mercenary’s face, eyes wide, and jaw hanging open. Peter reacted again, he reached into the fireplace and grabbed a burning log and flung it at the mercenary.

The smell of charred flesh – Peter’s flesh of his working arm and hand. He heard a scream of pain moments before the realization hit him: his own throat was burning from his scream of pain. The edges of his vision darkened and Peter felt the fight leave him. He still tried to fight through the pain toward the mercenary.

The mercenary waved his hands at the embers raining down the front of his vest. The log was deftly deflected with his forearm and it landed next to the bed and rolled under. But he immediately dealt with the shower of flaming debris. He reached up to work the release latch on his combat vest, but found that the burned arm wouldn’t quite work as it was supposed to.

Peter staggered forward blindly and his head struck the mercenary in the crotch. The mercenary doubled up and his coccyx struck the floor with a crack that Peter heard through his own screams of pain. The mercenary’s head struck the kitchen counter and his own vision faded.

Peter and the mercenary lay sprawled on the cabin floor as the structure burned around them.

16Sunsets – Cleanup


About Mark Gardner

Mark Gardner lives in northern Arizona with his wife, three children and a pair of spoiled dogs. Mark holds a degrees in Computer Systems and Applications and Applied Human Behavior. View all posts by Mark Gardner

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