Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Short Fiction: The Guardian of Farsee Mesa

The Guardian of Farsee Mesa
by Void Munashii

Wise ~ Heat ~ Rocks

    Hey kid, get off’a that! You need’a show the Guardian Stone some respect!

    No, it ain’t just some old rock; the stories ain’t xcrete neither, an’ you better watch your mouth! Come over here, I’ll tell ya the truth.

    ‘Cause I was there, that’s how I know.

    It was hot, just like today actually, when the attack happened. They’d attacked one of our trade convoys first, and Ricky Delgado had managed to get away on his hoverbike, but not without gettin’ shot first. It was his crashin’ halfway up the switchback that got Raj Patel, he was on switchback lookout that day, to sound the alarm.

    Before he passed, he told Raj, Doc Morris, and Sheriff Rico that a mighty raider army was a’comin’. As Ricky breathed his last, we could already see the dust cloud bein’ kicked up by the marchin’ army.

    Sheriff Rico and Mayor Vargas put the standard town defense plan into action. All’a the folks too young or too old to fire a gun were sent to hide while we adults took up defensive position, just like we’d done drilled.

    Now that weren’t the first time someone’d gotten it into their fool head to try and attack Farsee Mesa, but it was a rarity. The combination a’the inability to sneak up on the mesa, and the long switchback with its barricades a’rocks n’ debris n’ such making any attackers have to make bogging shootin’ gallery targets’a themselves gettin’ up here was enough to dissuade your average desert raiders from tryin’, but this guy was wise, as far as raiders go: he knew the key was to swamp us with numbers.

    We formed up, rifles in hand, and Sarabeth, the blacksmith, donned her battle armour. T’was an amazin’ thing; war tech from the before. Sure it were missing its armoured windscreen and it belched smoke like the from the diesel engine she’d had’a replace its original power source with, but the guns could put out more shot faster’n all’a our rifles combined.

    We had’a wait until the raiders were part way up the switchback, workin’ their way back an’ forth up the lone road onto the mesa; wait ‘til they was in effective range.

    Then the shootin’ started. We had the advantage’a height an’ cover to shoot down on ‘em, while all they could do was take poorly aimed shots back at us as they advanced.

    We rained hell down on those raiders, but for every one we killed, seemed like two more came up in their place. The swarm’a  attackers ‘round the end of the switchback looked like an angry colony’a stinger ants when ya step on their nest. That’s why we have ‘splosives down there now. Things might’s gone different if we had’em then.

    Was about a minute into the shooting that Sarabeth’s twin guns roared to life. She fired short bursts to conserve her ammo. Her guns burst those bastards like blood-filled waterskins.

    The fight went on too long though, and time was our enemy. Mellow, their leader, had amassed an army like I’d never even heard’a before or since. Never know how he got his hands on so much Krimson, but those red-eyed bastards were so hopped up on the stuff that they’d’a run straight off the side’a the mesa if ordered to.

    Stay away from that stuff, kid. It’ll make you powerful, fearless, and dumb as a cow in a stampede.

    Our ammo was runnin’ low, and they was gettin’ in the occasional lucky shot. They were many an’ we were gettin’ to be fewer by the minute. I took a shot in the leg myself; s’why I limp like I do.

    The real turnin’ point was when Sarabeth caught a round in the face. I’m sure she were dead ‘fore she hit the ground, but she kept pulling the trigger as she fell; she took out at least six’a us, including Mayor Vargas an’ the lookout tower that Raj had been shootin’ from.

    The raiders swarmed up, an’ surrounded us; tol’ us to drop our weapons. They didn’t shoot anyone who obeyed. Some chose to die rather than surrender. Others took it running; got it in the back as they fled. The compliant among us, kids and old folks included, were forced to the end’a  Main Street, right over there a bit away from the stone.

    Once all’a survivors quieted down, Mellow made his appearance. He was a mountain of a mutant: seven foot tall and a cyclops. His eye was clear, no Krimson user there.

    “Who leads?” the cyclops bellowed.

    Sheriff Rico, Deputy Barnel, and the preacher, a woman called Kimmers, stepped forward.  They were shoved over to stand right in front’a the Guardian Stone. The sheriff was clutching his left arm; the sleeve’a his shirt stained with blood from where he got shot himself.

    “You don’t need to do this,” said Pastor Kimmers, “Whatever you want, we give freely.”

    “I already have what I want,” Mellow said, “I have Farsee Mesa now, soon to be Mellow Mesa. Anyone who ever tries to bog w’me again is gonna get his xcrete handed to him.”

    “Okay,” sheriff said, “let the people go, and the mesa is yours.”

    “Why would I let so much fresh meat go? Do you know how much my men eat” Mellow asked, “Of course if you wanted to get down on your knees and beg me, I might consider letting some’a the kids take their chances with the desert. Who knows, some of’em might find help before the heat takes’em.”

    Mellow stepped forward, and took the preacher’s chin in his hand. He looked down on her and asked, “What’ya say, holy woman, you gonna get on your knees?”

    “There is only one being I get on my knees for,” the preacher tol’ him, “and it ain’t you!”

    Then preacher spit in his face.

    Mellow roared, and shoved her back against the Stone. He pulled a gun from his holster, it was a rifle that had been customized to shoot like a pistol in his oversized hand, and shot her in the face. Before she had even fallen to the ground, he did the same to the sheriff and deputy; bathed the stone in their blood.

    Now I’m not ‘xactly sure what it was about their blood that did it, but ‘fore Mellow could do anythin’ else, the whole mesa began to shake; thought it were a quake at first. The stable next to Sarabeth’s forge an’ the balcony’a the Forsee Saloon collapsed in the rumblin’. Mellow stumbled back and fell on his ass.

    The ground ‘round the stone split, and the Guardian Stone started to grow, ‘cept it weren’t growin’, it were pullin’ itself out of the ground. When done, it stood towering over us; it were twenty foot tall if it were an inch. The Guardian Stone had awakened!

    It reached down with one massive stone hand and plucked Mellow up like one’a your dollies. I swear I could hear his leg bones shatter as it squeezed’em, even over Mellow’s screamin’

    The Guardian stopped Mellow’s noise-makin’ by grabbing his top half with its other hand, and rippin’im in half like you might snap a pickle, tossin’ each half in a diff’rent direction.

    It was chaos after that. Some’a the raiders tried shootin’, some ran; made little difference. The guardian took after’em, punchin’, kickin’, stompin’, crushin’ the raiders who stood their ground. It didn’t touch a single one of us though. It didn’t look like it was bein’ carefull, but it didn’t even accidentally hurt any’a us.

    When it were done killing the bravest raiders, it took off after the ones who ran. It chased them all over the mesa, killin’ them as it caught them. Hidin’ didn’t do any good; The Guardian knew where they hid, like one’a them seeker drones from the before.

    By the time the sun set, there weren’t a raider left breathing on the mesa. Then the Guardian headed down the switchback, after the ones that got away.

    We all thought that we’d never see the Guardian again after that. We set to tending the wounded, and cleanin’ up the dead. It was alotta work: folks to bury’n raiders to burn, and so many of us already injured from the battle.

    Imagine our surprise a week later when the sun came up and the stone was back in the ground right where you see it. Don’t know how it got past the lookouts, or how it buried itself back down in’a ground like it had never been disturbed. If it weren’t for the dried blood covering it, you could be excused for doubting it had ever moved.

    Yeah, scoff all you want, kid, but this is wisdom I’m givin’ to ya. I hope you never hafta see the Guardian rise up, but you can trust it’ll be here if we need it.

    Now get outta here. I think your mom’s callin’.

The End

Do you want to read more stories based on this prompt? Go to the Clever Fiction Writing Challenge page to see what other authors have made of these three words.

Author's Note:

This is the fourth or fifth run I have taken at story.

The first time was a number of years ago as an entry into one of Escape Artists' flash fiction contests. I knew then that this story needed to be longer than just a flash piece, and this prompt gave me the opportunity to expand it a little bit.

This was the first thing that came to mind when I read this Clever Fiction prompt, but it was not the only one. There may be a second story coming based on these same words (although likely after the expiration date of the prompt itself).

1 comment:

Jennifer McMurrain said...

Wow, Void, great voice and action. Really enjoyed this.