Parallax - Chapter 1, Part 2
As I mentioned last week, I want to give my readers a little sneak peek into Parallax, so I've decided to post the opening of the novel chronologically on the blog.
Below is Chapter 1, Part 2. If you haven't read Chapter 1, Part 1, STOP right there! Go back and check it out!
Chapter 1, Part 2
There was more excited talking, then the tube shook and made a thunderous sound. A puff of smoke appeared at the opening. The earth next to him exploded.
William heard himself screaming as his host dropped to the ground, taking cover. He felt the man’s utter confusion and panic. Then he stood up, and the curiosity flooded his body again.
A voice cried out behind William. He turned around. The woman with the baby at her breast was shouting something at him. William felt his arm wave at her, making a gesture. It felt ambiguous.
He turned back to the soldiers. They had turned the tube vertical again, and they were dumping more powder into it. He warily approached the group, his eyes fix on the tube, half walking, then hesitating.
One hundred thirty. One hundred twenty-nine.
The Spaniards had grown agitated now, shouting at one another, pointing at William as he approached. The one dumping the powder couldn’t get the stick out. He was yank- ing and pulling.
More shouts from behind. William turned. The woman was pointing at the strange visitors and hollering.
Then William felt something hit him in the back, between the shoulder blades. He fell to his knees, his pain receptors firing, then got back up again. On the ground lay a rock, about four inches across. The Spaniards had thrown it at him, probably out of frustration, while his back was turned.
Angry, William watched his hand pick up the rock.
His arm pulled back, then windmilled forward. His hand released the rock. It cut a narrow arc through the air toward the Spaniards and glanced off one of their helmets. They be- gan yelling. At last they pulled the stick out of the tube. As they lowered it to aim toward William, the tube exploded. One of the Spaniards stumbled backward, hands over his face, and then fell on his rear end.
William breathed a sigh of relief. They’d intended to kill him, but the gun exploded too early. He knew that it happened frequently with early weaponry.
One of the Spaniards turned and whistled. Behind them, several more Spaniards appeared on the ridge. These men weren’t wearing steel plates on their chests, and they were holding long steel knives in their hands. They ran down the slope toward William.
He felt himself hyperventilating. These Spaniards were out for blood, Mayan blood. His blood.
His host turned and ran backward, away from them, back toward the woman. She was retreating, too, stepping carefully with her short legs.
Sixty-seven. Sixty-six. Sixty-five.
William’s host moved fluidly and carefully across the land that he’d been peacefully tilling a few minutes earlier. The squish and the squelch of the mud around his flat feet slowed him down, seeming to glom onto his heels. He imagined the same was happening to the Spaniards.
He glanced backward. To his surprise, he saw that they were gaining on him. Their legs were longer than his. His host had probably never seen men with such long legs.
William redoubled his efforts. If he could get to the edge of the jungle, on the other side of the clearing, he could lose them.
He arrived at the woman, hurried her along with his hand on her back. Her skin felt sweaty and soft. The baby had re- leased its mouth and was starting to wail at being jostled.
A sound behind him. The Spaniards were yelling. They had gained on him. The jungle was just a few steps away.
He heard his voice urging the woman on. William presumed that this was his host’s wife and child; otherwise, he would’ve easily gone faster.
The Spaniards were suddenly upon them, and William felt himself knocked to the ground. To his left, he heard a short cry, his wife had been knocked down, too. Their baby had flown a few feet away, and one of the Spaniards had grabbed the child.
William felt intense panic radiating through his body. He’d never experienced a snap this intense before.
He tried to get up to reach for his baby. He felt something kick him in the ribs, and he fell over. Next to him, his wife was wailing. The Spaniards were speaking in a language he couldn’t understand.
One of the Spaniards stood over him and lifted the long steel knife.
“Vaya con Dios,” the man said.
The man thrust the weapon toward William.
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