Sometimes, you just need to run.
My mother’s voice woke me from a light sleep. As I’d slept, the wind had picked up, and I found myself on the edge of a large forest. It was a far cry from the small house I’d bedded down in.
Sitting up, with my Colts in hand, I listened again for her wretched voice.
It didn’t take long for her to speak again.
“You’ve come far, Duncan.”
The words rolled through the woods and assailed my ears. The slight echo to her voice told me she wasn’t near enough for me to kill.
Reluctantly, I slid the Colts into their holsters and went about the business of starting a fire for my morning coffee.
“Did you not hear me?”
It was the smug tone of laughter in her voice that prompted a response.
“How could I not?” I asked. “Breaking glass sounds better than you.”
Her angry laugh rippled through the air. “I’ve seen you die a thousand times.”
I set the water to boiling, took out my pipe and packed some tobacco down. “That a fact?”
“I’m looking forward to the thousand and first.”
I lit the pipe and reclined a bit. “Sure you are. I’ve killed you a few times.”
She didn’t respond.
“Nothing quite as spectacular as the first,” I continued. “There was fear that first time. A rush of adrenaline I’ve not quite been able to match. ‘Course, I was only a boy.”
“I hate you.”
The trees shivered and bent with her hatred.
I chuckled, let out a stream of pipe smoke and nodded. “Feeling’s mutual, Mother.”
“I’m going to watch you die,” she snarled.
The ground shook, and I looked up.
A great dust cloud roiled across a large field, and a heartbeat later, I heard them. Hundreds of hooves pounded the earth. Then, from the dust, they emerged.
Horsemen with banners and lances.
When they caught sight of me, they let out a long and powerful cry.
I stood up, pulled on my rucksack and used my coat to pull the pot off the fire. I cursed the heat, dumped the wasted brew onto the flames, and turned my back to the enemy.
I sure as hell didn’t have enough ammunition for them all, and above the pounding hooves, I heard my mother urging the riders on.
With their weight of numbers, the riders would fear her more than me.
It was time to run.