Wednesday, November 19, 2014

11-19-14 Writing Warm-up
8:40 AM

11-19-14 Writing Warm-up

11-19-14 Writing Warm-up
Artwork © Francisco Badilla, All Rights Reserved -
Story and Characters © Brannon Hollingsworth, All Rights Reserved
Brought to you by Four Fools Press: “Crazy Good Stories”

--1918, Russia--

Siberia, in winter, is not for the faint of heart--even when you have a Zemyla-yolem at your disposal...

Despite being the 27th of December, it was not so bitterly cold today, and that was a good thing. Riding atop a twenty-five foot tall creature in the ripping winter wind is enough to freeze a man solid. Today, the Good Lord had graced me, his humble servant, Oleg, with bright sunshine and precious little wind.

Even in the heart of winter, in the heart of Russia, in the heart of war, it seems that God can smile.

If so, then God was the only one. The Whites and their damned Komuch (the People's Army) were again shaking their tiny, but persistent, fists at the Reds. Word had just reached my unit that they had taken Perm on the 24th, only three days prior. That would mean more work for me and for my Egor--

With this thought, the massive stone beast beneath me rumbled comfortingly. I had never understood the manner in which the Zemyla-yolems were made--it was a secret closely guarded by the Orthodoxy--but I was glad for their making. Somehow the mystical beasts could hear their man's inner thoughts. Some said that the very disposition and attitudes of the creatures were a direct reflection of their man's heart-of-hearts.

Truth be known, I had seen many of the massive stone beasts that were as evil and black as a man's sinful heart. I could only hope that my Egor (rumble) was not so.

Regardless, there would be much more work to do. White raids against the Trans-Siberian Railroad would again be as sure as snow and ice; they had done it before, in May. White raids against the railroad meant the hauling of more supplies for repair. The hauling of more supplies meant more long, cold, thankless work for Egor (rumble) and me. My giant companion seemed not to mind the long, the cold, and the thankless, however; so, too, would I remain stoic.

Suddenly, the crisp winter air was split with the crack of a rifle--Mosin Nagant by it's sound--and a chip of stone whipped past my eye, narrowly missing it! The shot had come from before me, slightly to my right. It had struck Egor's (rumble) boulder-like head; a few scant inches higher and St. Pitr and I would supping together. I saw the rifle's long bore staring at me through a massive snow bank atop a tumble-down rise of ice-laden rock.

"Halt! Stay your beast, Red!" A voice, thready with weariness and perhaps fear, floated over the white burm to find my ears.

With a thought, I halted Egor, my own hand moving imperceptibly towards my recently salvaged Steyer Automatic strapped to my thigh. The Mosin had me in spades in terms of range and power, but I would not be taken alive by a White. I replied, eyes straining for my attacker's face, "I have done so. What is your purpose here? Who are you?"

"Ha! I'll not give you my name, Red. As to what I am doing, I will be taking your beast of burden, once I pull your still-smoking corpse from it!"

At this, Egor GROWLED. It was the sound of a small earthquake. I knew his carved pit-like eyes could not, but it seemed as if they were drawn tightly in anger. My stone-made Zemyla-yolem had none, but I could feel his hackles rise. With a movement far quicker than any I'd ever seen, he clambered over the rocky rise. I thanked God for my saddle-and-steering straps, or else I would have plummeted to my death!

The man screamed and scuttled down the snowy scree like a man possessed. "No! NO!! Keep away! Stay away!" He dropped his rifle and scrabbled across the ice like a dog, digging in with his hands and feet. "I am sorry! Just...Just leave me be!"

It was then that I saw the little girl. She looked worse than he: completely scared, half-starved, and nearly frozen. The man, now completely unarmed, stood and protected her with his own body. He stood in between this tiny daughter (she had his eyes and mouth) and a massive mammoth of living stone-and-magic four times his height.

He spoke, his voice (like his spirit) completely broken. "Please. Leave us be. I meant no harm. I only wanted to save....her...."

They were Whites, I knew. Likely Bolsheviks, through and through. But, deep down they were people. They were hungry. They were in need. I had to help them.

Egor rumbled, and reached towards the two--father and daughter, most likely--as gently and calmly as a grandmother might reach for a baby.

Egor rumbled...and the two Whites smiled.

Even in the heart of winter, in the heart of Russia, in the heart of war, it seems that not just God can smile.


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