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 Visions of San Antón

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The Laughing Stranger
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Join date : 2013-08-29

PostSubject: Visions of San Antón   Wed 07 May 2014, 19:59

Bruno Smith tossed in his sweat-smeared bed. Normally, he slept like a log, but now the birds were singing. It wasn't very late, but there was work to be done in the morning, and Bruno had been drinking. The large man sat up and pawed at his eyes. The high lilting call of the birds was constant and insistent, like some sort of deranged sentry's warning cry, making sleep impossible. He stared out of his window across the fields at the steady oil-fueled glow that suffused the house. As he idly watched the upper story light winked out, and his mean thoughts turned toward Mrs. Turner. He imagined her lying in the dark, alone, her blonde hair tangled and loose. In his mind's eye she was wearing nothing more than a sheer chemise, her thoughts similarly restless. His amorous fantasy was abruptly cut short by a shadow passing by the field, its tall silhouette momentarily blocking out the shining house.  

"Shit."

Bruno swung his bulk out out of bed and stumbled to the door of his quarters, before thinking better of going out into the night unarmed. He stepped back and reached under the bed, taking out a cruel whip tipped with broken glass. If it is another one of them damn mexicanos stealing shit again, I am gonna beat that worthless goat-lover 'til he crawls back across the Rio Grande.  

Before Bruno could throw open the door and storm outside to mete out his righteous punishment, he heard a soft but insistent knock. He opened the door squinted out into the night.

"Who's there?"

"Hey boss, is me, Big Al." The reply was a hoarse whisper.

"What you doing creeping around in the night then, ya big dumb nigger? Master Turner know you aren't sleeping?"

"No, boss, I came to get you. Strange men were creeping around, boss, and they was wet. Seems like they might have come 'cross the river. Thought they might be snatchers, boss."

Bruno said nothing at first and studied the big slave, his weariness gone, replaced by a growing unease. The riotous cries of the night birds had ceased, and Bruno did not know what that meant. Big Al was loyal, but none too bright. It might have just been a possum or some such nonsense. The sleep-deprived man fingered his lash, wondering if he shouldn't just crack the whip at Al and tell the over-sized lump to get back to his hovel, but he quickly realized that if someone was out to steal the slaves, it was his neck on the line.

"Dammit, fine, stay there," he grunted in exasperation.

Bruno left the doorway and hung the cat o' nine back on its nail. The overseer rummaged under his bed and pulled out a wicked long blade: a serrated bowie knife, as well as a gleaming pistol, which he shoved into his waistband. Hoisting himself to his feet on the worn bed post, he waved the sharp weapon at Al, who silent stood filling the doorway. "Alright, show me were these damn fools were. I don't got all ni-" Bruno made a thick wet blubbering sound as a red-coated blade punched through his neck, just above his clavicle, and carved upward, slicing and sawing his throat and jugular to ribbons. The light went out of Bruno's cruel little eyes and the knife tumbled from his twitching grasp.

Big Al gaped, momentarily stunned by what he saw. A shadowy form crouched on the bed, a massive being cloaked in dark robes, its only discernible feature a pair of predator's eyes glinting in the feeble illumination offered by the window. Its head snapped toward Al as he started moving, diving for the fallen knife without a second thought. He didn't know why, but seeing this creature filled him with intense, irrational anger- a fury so unspeakable and all-consuming that he shook. The hooded thing lashed out, pitching the ruined body of the slave-master forward, and for a moment all Al could see was spurting blood and torn flesh as the carcass nearly bore him to the ground. Unthinking, the slave threw the dead man away and fumbled in the gore for the knife even as he looked up into the half-lit face of nightmare: a fanged maw slung under shining eyes that mirrored his own insane rage. He stabbed wildly, forcing it to shrink back up against the wall, weird animal eyes fixed on something beyond Bruno Smith's mean hut. Then it vanished, leaving Big Al alone. In his haze, the slave turned and stabbed down, sheathing the knife in the fallen overseer. He did not know why.

One after another, lights sprang on in the big house and shouts could be heard, drawing near from the road and river. Al didn't hear them- the last sound in his ears before he lost consciousness was the ringing, mocking cries of the Whippoorwill.
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