Friday, March 13, 2015

3-13-15 Foolish Friday
8:08 AM

3-13-15 Foolish Friday


Artwork © Tom Babbey, All Rights Reserved - http://tombabbey.com/
Story and Characters © Brannon Hollingsworth, All Rights Reserved 
Brought to you by Four Fools Press: “Crazy Good Stories”

It's Friday the 13th, so we thought we might give you a little something spooky. As it happens, this Friday the 13th also coincides with a Foolish Friday update, so we'll go a little nuts and give you a glimpse into the next episode of Tenet's Tales! We just released The Truth Is Out There (Tenet's Tales, Part 0), so enjoy this shivery scene from The Tanzanian Terror (Tenet's Tales, Part 1); coming to you soon from Four Fools Press!

***
August, 1517 A.D.
Pemba Island--east of Tanzania, Africa.

For all its devastation to my escape, I was thankful for the supreme distraction afforded to me by the Eid al-Fitr. With the entire island seemingly in the throes of a festival, at least for now there were precious few interested in engaging a stranger in conversation. I had no doubt that this would wan as both wine and time flowed but for now, so long as I remained in the shadows, few had reason to be interested in me.

After quickly obtaining an evening meal of a spicy rice known to the locals as pilau and coconut bean soup and a steaming mug of chai tea, I retreated again to my roof perch. The pilau was like a smoky fire across my tongue, a nice compliment to the homely, yet sweet beans from the soup. The heady, spicy scent from both the burning and the living cloves wafted around me like a soothing, invisible sea. As the equatorial heat of the day drained away into far cooler night, I felt a measure of the tension from the day begin to slip away as the food hit my grousing stomach.

Perhaps that’s why I was taken at unawares.

A tiny pinprick of sensation on the right side of my neck, quickly followed by a cold, but burning line of metal across my throat. My soup and rice were scattered carelessly across the roof as black silhouettes blocked the stars from my view. My spine stiffened as my body unconsciously recoiled from the razor sharp line at my naked throat. Something hard, hot, and sweaty stopped me cold and a gust of rotten-fish breath rolled over me like a gout of putrid sick.

“I have you, Mzungu. You only thought you could escape me.” The voice and a laugh that sounded like a man strangling another immediately informed me: Spittle-beard, one of the skin-hunters who'd been chasing me; seeking my white flesh. A cold spike of fear shot through my gut. Spittle-beard growled with satisfaction and wrapped a thick tentacle of an arm around my chest, yanking me closer.

One of the dark shadows before me squatted, his eyes white and wide with excitement. They bored into mine with the look of a man enspelled, but his words were for his leader’s ears. “How shall we skin him, Master, from the toes up--or the head down?” A diabolic leer spread across his dirt-brown features.

In an instant, cold sweat sprang up from every pore in my body. A thready scream erupted from my lips, “N-n-n-ooo!”

Rough hands grabbed me, yanking me backwards while pulling my wrists together behind my back. My shoulders and elbows flared in hot agony as i felt them pop out of the sockets from the sheer violence of the movement. The third thug produced a thick coil of heavy, hand-woven hemp and fished for my flailing feet. The men moved with such synchronization, it was hard to tell in the dark where one man’s hands ended and another began.

The shock of the initial affront began to recede and I began to thrash my extremities and scream like a mad-man, careful to keep my head and neck as still as stone. Again came the sharp stab of pain on the right side of my neck, jangling oddly on the edge of my awareness, but there was no time. The silver flash of a knife in the waning moon’s pale light caught my eye as surely as the first rays of dawn.

“Be still fool! Scarred hides are worth far less than pristine!” The second man’s words were full of equal parts mirth and evil intent. The thug’s knife began slicing away my cassock in skilled strokes. My body and mind screamed in fear, knowing that my flesh would be next. My voice had vanished--perhaps in an attempt to save itself. My throat felt raw and bloody.

“Drag him to the edge and bleed him out there. That should calm him down a bit!” The third man, his voice almost indistinguishable from his two companions came from near my feet--both of which were now bound tightly. My robes hung in tatters about me, naked and defenseless the men hauled me like nothing more than a massive day’s catch towards the roof’s edge.

The knife vanished for a moment, followed by a blow of something hard and calloused into my gut. The wind was blasted from me, along with a scream--finally.

“NNNNNOOOO!”

The skin-hunters laughed: a trio of evil, mocking voices and flipped me over. I was nothing to them--little more than a prize to be prepared for slaughter and then for market. A sharp pain in my neck, like a sliver of metal gouged into my flesh and bone. My head hung over the side of the roof, but the street was lost in a haze of fiery tears that I could not blink away.

Again came the scent of fish, left too long in the sun--of bloated bodies and buzzing, hungry flies.

Hungry.

Palms coated with scouring sand snatched my forehead, my eye sockets, my nose and upper lip, yanking my head up and back. My neck cracked with the sound of a snapping branch. I warbled out a small protest.

“please...God...no…”

Again came the raucous laughter. This was nothing more than a game to them. I was nothing more than an object--not a living being. Another deep sharp pain flared in my neck: cold and needy.

Hungry.

The voice of the knife-wielder erupted near my right ear. “His God will not hear him nor help him now, eh, Spittle-beard?”

For a split-second, the world stood perfectly still--poised on the head of a needle, as it were.

‘Spittle-beard?’ Why would he call him that?

Something in the universe snapped back into focus and I looked up from my rice and beans. My neck throbbed and I could feel a small line of hot blood on my neck. Everything on the roof was calm and still, but the celebration still surged in Chake-Chake beneath me. Only moments had passed since my last bite. Spicy rice was still on my tongue.

What had just happened? Had I imagined it? Impossible--my pulse still raced with raw terror and panic.

I touched the right side of my neck--wet with blood, but something else, embedded in my flesh. I plucked it out and brought it before my black-and-silver eyes. A small, razor sharp tooth.

The taste of copper was stuck in the back of my throat.

What was the meaning of this? One thing was clear: there was more at work here than merely some depraved albino hunters. Whatever it was, it was abnormal and intently focused on me…
***
If you like this, you can read more just like it in our latest Four Fools Release, The Truth Is Out There - already an Amazon Bestseller! Get your copy today!