Saturday, December 13, 2008

Teaser - Men of Twelve Chapt 3, Scene 10

From the draft of my novel in progress Excerpt from The Men of Twelve Chapter 3, scene 10 By L. V. Gaudet © January 2007 Started writing Jan 16/07 Without warning, one swirling tornado cloud swooped in with incredible speed, freezing in place half a foot from Stewart’s face, stopping motionlessly even as its swirling mass of dust continued to churn, mesmerizing. Startled, he froze, blinking, staring at it, eyes wide and mouth open. From its depths a darker form seemed to materialize, drawing forth from the swirling mini-tornado of dust particles, with a speed that would shame a poisonous viper, the form lunged forward from the cloud of swirling dust; stopping bare inches from his nose. It was a human form; its head and face very clear, arms, hands ending in sharp claws rather than human-like fingernails. It had a heart-shaped face, wider at the eyes, narrowing towards its sharp jutting chin, and framed with dark hair that seemed to rustle in the non-existent wind fueling the cloud of dust. Little pointy ears peaked out from the hair at the sides of its head. It was very solid, yet at the same time its entire being in perpetual motion as the dust that made it up continued to churn and move. Its body seemed to become less solid as it disappeared into the churning cloud of dust, leaving the disembodied head staring at the man from the roiling mass of dust. The creature had seemed to be dressed much as any mortal man would dress. It certainly was not dressed as a man would for battle. Off in the clearing, a large Draephid standing still as it surveyed the edge of the forest line surrounding the clearing suddenly sprung into a clumsy charge, it’s ‘legs’ pumping furiously as it ran awkwardly with tremendous speed. The dust creature stared at him, unblinking. It studied him as though simply curious about him. It was not an unpleasant looking creature. Then, with a wry smile, it stretched out its arms, palms up, slightly bent at the elbows. With a shrug as if to say, “what else can I do,” it cracked it’s mouth open wide, baring impossibly sharp pointed teeth, it’s face twisting into a gruesome mask of malevolence, and it exhaled a shriek like the gale of hurricane winds whistling as they tore the world apart, right into his face. The force of the shriek blew against his face and hair like gale force winds. The young horse he still held onto balked and pulled at the end of its reins, whinnying shrilling and biting fearfully at its bit, eyes rolling wildly until almost nothing but the whites showed. He didn't even notice the panicked animal pulling on the lead clutched tightly in his hand. Stunned, Stewart turned his head towards Aiken, who still stood not far away swiping at swirling clouds of dust that swarmed around him. Stewart opened his mouth to call out a warning and vanished in a violent concussion of impact. Where he stood a heartbeat before was … nothing. A thunderous crack echoed across the sky, like the sharp crack of thunder exploding only inches away. The dust devil still hovered where it was before. Next to where the man had stood on seconds before, a tree stood, fractured and splintered. Its bark sprayed out on the ground like a fan, shattered and exploded out from the great impact. The raw wood of the tree pulverized, thick viscous sap slowly oozing from its shattered raw wounds. It had but a few branches and no leaves. It’s crown broken off before where it would have sprouted. It stood pressed against a much taller tree. It was the very same Draephid that earlier had met the men in the woods, greeting them in a friendly and thoughtful manner. Slowly, it tipped away, peeling away from the taller tree with a wet sucking sound. Stiff and unmoving, it toppled and fell with a dull thud. Its eyes, the color of raw wood, were open, staring, glazed. Its mouth gaped like a crooked gash in a tree. Its form mostly pulverized and shattered, covered in a sticky wet red jam-like substance. The tree that still stood dripped with the same red jam-like ooze, its trunk cracked down the center from the tremendous impact, its branches broken and twisted. The ground, the trees, the leaves, all was sprayed with fresh wet droplets of red. It was as if the sky itself had opened up and rained down large crimson droplets on that small area. The droplets were larger, more numerous around the standing tree, pooling red puddles slowly being sucked up by the thirsty ground. The droplets fanned out, becoming smaller and more distanced as they went. Droplets dripped from nearby leaves and tree bark. Behind the standing tree was a straight line of clean earth where it’s mass blocked the spray of blood. There was nothing left that could be identified as human, just a wet jam-like smear dripping down the tree’s broken trunk. Stewart's horse still stood where it was before, eyes wider than you can imagine, silent now and motionless, scant inches from where the Draephid impacted against the tree with explosive percussion. The animal trembled violently, head held high and nostrils expanding and retracting, breathing heavily, eyes rolled back until almost nothing but white was visible. The horse's lead hung limply now, the end disappearing into the thick red muck oozing down the tree, where a heartbeat before it was clutched tightly in Stewart's fist. Red jam-like ooze covered the animal, slowly dripping down it to fall casually to the earth with ever so soft plopping sounds as of fat lazy water droplets. Shattered fragments of bark and fresh pulverized wood hung caught in the animal's mane. The hovering dust devil laughed hysterically. The woods groaned, a low deep sound like the wood of a hundred trees being bent in unison. Aiken turned just in time to witness the other Stewart, staring at him with wide eyes and mouth, suddenly vanish as though he were never there with a sudden violent crash in a blur of movement. One heartbeat he was there, the next a blur of motion and the air he occupied was empty. It was empty but for a laughing hideous human-like creature that seemed to be part real and part cloud of violently swirling dust. Red wetness oozed and dripped from everything. Most strange seeming of all, was the motionless horse dripping crimson ooze, standing statue-still as though caught in a picture despite the sudden violence a second before.

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