Raven’s Run 147

The eye is a sphere about the size of a target’s bullseye. Don’t look at the visible lids and lashes. See the eyeball behind it. See it as the bull of a target.

Sgt. Davenport had told me that, in Germany. His voice echoed in my ears as the sight picture came into focus. There was a tearing jolt that staggered me and the picture wavered. Then the sights settled again and I squeezed the trigger.

I shot the stranger through the right eye with my last bullet. Small, fast, and jacketed, the round went in and out of his skull with little fuss. He staggered and fell, rolled over twice and ended face down, staining the water of the lovely green seep.

I had to get to his revolver, but there was some confusion about how to get there. Something fierce had a Rottweiler grip on my leg. I looked down and saw blood spreading across my thigh. Then the pain hit, and I had to fight it down. I started forward, stumbled, then lunged up and staggered toward where I had seen the revolver fall. I heard another shot and the whip of the bullet as it passed. 

Susyn was there; she had circled beyond us and was standing near the verge of the drop. The revolver was on the grass, closer to her than to me, and she was looking over the sights of Alan’s automatic. Her violet eyes were mad. She would not miss. And she would not fire once. She would empty that cavernous magazine, and every shot would go home.

Then her eyes wavered. Someone else was behind me, moving away, drawing Susyn’s gaze with her as she moved. Someone Susyn hated nearly as much as she hated me. Raven. 

As Susyn’s eyes followed Raven, and the gun muzzle moved, I lunged forward. Susyn twisted the gun back and fired. Something hit me hard and I staggered. Left handed, I slapped the gun aside. 

Right handed, I hit her in the mouth. 

I tried to break her neck with the blow, but most of my strength was running out of bullet holes in my side and leg. She flipped backward and went gracelessly heels over head down the short slope to the brink of the cliff. I went after her, dragged by my own momentum. I dug my heels in and slid to a stop at her feet as she staggered for balance. She had kept hold of the gun. I knocked it upward, and that was all it took to overbalance her again. She fell backward. 

Some things are automatic. Like man overboard drill.

I reached out for her. I grabbed for her flailing hand and I swear I could have caught it. Could have dragged her back, even then. Could have calmed her. Could have convinced her, eventually, that there was nothing she could do for her brothers and no need to die trying to avenge them.

But I saw her eyes. I saw the violet madness in them, and knew that nothing would ever calm them. That as long as she lived, neither Raven nor I would have peace. I saw that madness just as she reached – instinctively – to grab my hand and save herself.

I saw her eyes and closed my fist. 

She reached for a hand no longer open. Her straining fingers brushed my knuckles and she fell away screaming. I saw her eyes when I closed my hand, saw them as she fell away, saw them in my mind all the way down until the clatter and whump told me the fall was over.

Saw them still, when Raven stood over me, wrapping my wounds and stuffing them with torn clothing to keep the life in. Saw them through the endless time of waiting, lying in the mud and grass, through the dimness and cold of a long Norwegian evening while Raven went for help.

See them still, in these fever dreams. more tomorrow


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