They wanted to take me back.

I had finished stripping down, cleaning, and reassembling my newly acquired rifle when the scout stumbled into my camp.

“If you’ve a mind for some tea,” I told him, “you’re welcome to sit. If you think I’ll stand up and go anywhere, I’ll put a bullet in your gut for your trouble.”

A moment later, his shaky voice sounded in my head.

“You’re to be brought back to the city,” he told me. “They know you’re hunting Gao, and we’re to stop you.”

I shook my head. “Get on back to your commander and tell him I said to leave me in peace. If he pushes the issue, I’ll kill everyone in my way. Gao needs to die. No one else.”

The soldier’s eyes flickered to my rifle. When I didn’t pull the trigger, he turned and bolted from my campsite.

Soon, I was on the path.

I’d gone no further than a mile or so when I came to a river. A pair of soldiers stood at the head of a long, narrow footbridge, across which more soldiers were moving. When the two soldiers saw me, they brought up their rifles and opened fire.

I killed them both.

On the long, narrow footbridge, the soldiers brought their own rifles up, but I dropped down behind a bit of deadfall, sighted in on the first man and killed him. The man beside him swore, tried to avoid the body of his comrade and ended up in the river instead. Others behind the corpse pushed forward, and I cut them down. A few tried to climb over their dead and failed. The soldiers continued to fire, trying to pin me down, but my position was good, my line of sight fine.

Some men attempted to get into the river, but the current swept them away. The men on the bridge were pinned down.

Finally, after almost half an hour, the men ceased firing and hunkered down. A man at the far end remained standing, gesturing and slapping soldiers with the flat of his saber.

He brought the weapon up once more, clearly trying to drive his men forward, and I put a bullet in his left eye. As he collapsed to the bridge and tumbled into the river, his men stood, turned around, and went back the way they’d come.  

And as they went on their way, I went on mine.

Gao was waiting.

#China #Horrorstories

Published by

Nicholas Efstathiou

Husband, father, and writer.

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