Bountiful Lands

This is a short story written for the fiction boards of the Dark Tempus LARP, the award winning system based in Northern England.

This story was based on an image prompting exercise in the DT Fic Community on Facebook. The two images that inspired this piece are:


(Cathedral in Winter by Oehme)

and


(by Pascal Blanche)

I hope that you enjoy it!

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The thick blanket of looming grey clouds that threatened the storm warned the mortals beneath to seek shelter indoors.

As the rain began to pour, one man in a long coat strode across drowning flagstones towards the tower before him. Doors that once stood heavy and proud now lay upon the floor inside,off of their hinges and broken to time.

The ceiling was high and vaulted, barely lit and hidden to vision were the furthest corners of the crumbling room. One corner of the remains sat in ruins, opening up the room to the violent elements outside. The once fine architecture that brought reverence from the local sector now sat alone in the wastelands, left to rot amongst a world without order. This place was a tomb now, a mausoleum for those left inside. Shadows and silhouettes of people congregated as soot on the time-weathered stone, still visible long after their owner’s departure. Others who had died here remained in the open. Their rotted rags stuck to bones like caught fabrics in a dead tree’s naked, clawed branches.

He was not alone. Dirk could see that one other sat in this room on a heavy oak bench, one of a few that were not scattered and broken about the opened cloister.Their sanctity and peace was quashed now that Dirk had arrived. He stood in the stone threshold for a small while longer before he flicked the remains of his cigarette outside, where the thin smoke trailed the life of an ember that was extinguished in the rain.

Behind the upturned collar of the thick bomber jacket’s ragged fur Dirk could see that it wasn’t in prayer but in thought. Heavy fingerless gloves ran themselves along the skull in her hands. Dirk stood just behind her, to her right. It was easy to see that it was bigger, and slightly longer than a human’s. It may have belonged to a mutant once upon a time, but with the dented mark revealing the metal beneath the stone paintjob it could only have been a helmet. Dirk made note of the rifle, without its magazine, that lent haphazardly against the pew. His eyes lingered on the backpack at her feet, patched together by various metallic components.

Fingers circled the marking near the skull’s apex, a deep groove along the temple, caused by a pistol in a previous chase.

“You’re here then.” She remembered the man who shot her.

“Yes,” said Dirk.

“I can’t keep running then.”

“No,” he replied as she looked to him. Her face was red and on the verge of tears. Dirk’s gaunt face looked back down at her. He didn’t have sympathy. He asked her if she knew what would happen now, hands never left his long coat’s pockets.

“I thought that I could reach Newtown at least. I’ll probably hang.” She stopped fidgeting with the helmet and put it against her head, fore to fore. She finally let out a breath and tears finally broke out. She was so tired of running from him. “That’s what they’ll do, right?”

“They could. There might be a firing squad. It’s not important.” He let her cry a little more. He brought his hands out of their pockets and, moving to sit next to her, pulled his trousers up at his knees. He took off his own hat, brushed his lank, grey hair back and replaced his headwear. Once more he looked to her and wrapped his tongue around his next words. “Do you know the price?”

“On my head?” Dirk hummed before he nodded confirmation at her question. She shook her head.

“Gillian the Grotesque,” a tribute to her helmet rather than her thickset face. “Alive, four hundred credits. Dead, three hundred. For unlawful murder and the obstruction of Peacekeeper justice.” It was her bounty details, word for word. She killed a witness and prime suspects. Dirk knew that the details of the investigation claimed that one was a pre-existing bounty; the others were collateral. He glanced around at each of the broken windows. He knew why she wasn’t running. She was surrounded now, chased across mile upon mile before being sheperded into this hole.; this oubliette of the past.

Dirk sighed at the silence that was broken up by various rumbles of thunder.

“It’d be easier for us if you came along of your own free will.”

“I know,” she sighed. Her tears had slowed to the point where her face was the only obvious sign that she’d been crying at all. Dirk nodded and got up. He managed to affix one button before Gillian spoke again. He wheeled around to listen. “I’m not going back though,” she stated. She smiled crookedly that even through tears managed to contradict her nickname.

The old man stretched his lips across his face, gave a slight bow, and met eyes with her.

“If that’s what you want.” Dirk straightened his hat. “It was a small pleasure, Gillian.” She pursed her lips before smiling through the pain again.

“You’re a liar,” she laughed rather than cried through her nerves. “Be seeing you.”

Dirk left her alone. After a few steps he heard the scraping of metal on metal, the tell tale sign of a reloading rifle. As he came to the doorway he produced another stick from a grey standard packet, revealing the pistol rig to his colleagues who stood nearby. Melody waited for his word before carrying on. He took in a deep breath and looked to the others around her, four in total, all decked in the fatigues of Sanc. Melody never took her thin eyes from him, awaiting orders.

Dirk blew out the contents of his lungs. With a rasping voice he gave his orders.

“Target has chosen to resist arrest. Sentence is death.” They were told to leave nothing for bounty hands.

The fireteam filed into the dead building, training their rifles on every corner, every angle. More thunder rumbled in the dark, grey sky. Dirk continued with his cigarette whilst, in the background, gunfire echoed the violence in the skies.

by Kier Sparey

© Copyright Kier Sparey 2014

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One Response to Bountiful Lands

  1. Pingback: New Short Story! | Kier Sparey – Writer.

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