Fiction on Odyssey: Mercy
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Fiction on Odyssey: Mercy

Maria shut her eyes and exhaled as the gun went off.

Fiction on Odyssey: Mercy

The side of Maria's face burned against the dry, scorched earth and she thought of nothing. She objectively listened to the fumbling and rustling of the bandits' greedy paws rifling through their belongings in the wagon when she remembered her father's lifeless body lying next to her. One of the men in the troop, still in a frenzy of adrenaline and bloodlust, seemed to sense her sudden return of awareness and threw himself on her. She waited patiently while, seething with the excitement of his part in the near-perfect execution of the robbery he fumbled with her dress, trying but failing repeatedly to pull it up around her waist only for it to get caught under her legs. He would have to pick up her entire lower half because Maria had resolved to become dead weight. He was the one struggling. The man grew frustrated and in one final, failed attempt to remove her dress smoothly so as not to embarrass himself in front of his comrades, he grunted in disgust, throwing her legs violently to the side and cocked his pistol over her head.

"Sorry sweetheart", he said, "dress was too tight."

Maria shut her eyes and exhaled as the gun went off. The crack of the pistol firing was so loud that she felt it vibrate all the way down to her temporal lobe, and was followed by a dull thud. After a few seconds, she realized she was still breathing and slowly opened one eye, followed by the other before she swiftly flipped herself over on her back. The sun blinded her for a moment before she saw the silhouette of another bandit standing over her. This man was taller than the first, and she could make out wiry muscle of his neck and arms, and the smoking revolver in his hand, blacked out by the blazing sun perfectly behind his head. Suddenly he knelt in front of her and every detail of her captor-savior snapped instantly into focus. He appeared to be in his late twenties, but with the facial features of someone much older, with a freshly shaven face and a dark shock of hair that was neither long nor short that seemed to have a habit of falling slightly in his face. She could do nothing but stare and saw an unusual coldness staring back at her that she could not conclude the meaning of. The others were in a frenzy behind him but the man before her seemed immune to it, even unaware of it.

After looking her over for what felt like an eternity, he seemed satisfied with what he saw and stood up, pivoted and walked back toward the group.

"What the fuck Ash?" said a blonde man from the group with a scarred face.

"Too much blood already," he replied "she ain't worth it."

"But you killed Chester. That was worth it?"

"I said she ain't worth it," repeated Ash."No good will come to us from killing a woman like that."

"Who the hell are you to say what's good or not? We're all goin' straight to hell when this is all said and done anyway," replied the blonde man."Only you just gave that son-of-a-bitch Chester a head start."

"Maybe so," said Ash, "but I'd rather hell stay below the earth while I'm still living on it."

The blonde man with the scarred face tensed up slightly and raised his chin a few degrees."You actually believe in that shit?" he asked genuinely. Ash didn't acknowledge the question and nobody else spoke and a tense silence overtook the group as they continued to search for anything of value in the wagon.

"Mr. Chandler ain't gonna be too happy when he finds out you shot his son in the back," said the blonde man through a knotted throat as he found the courage to speak again. He felt a sudden chasm separating the group between Ash and everybody else. He jumped on the opportunity to be the spokesman for everybody else.

"Is he going to find out?" Ash replied.

"You know as well as anyone how the truth comes out Ash."

"We'll see compadre. If you've got everything you can carry, we'd better get going. The sun will set soon and we wouldn't want to be stuck out here with the snakes."

The man called Ash tied Chester's horse to his and mounted it, followed one by one by the other four men each with a sack of Maria's family's belongings slung in front of them perpendicular across the horses' backs. Maria, still lying in the same spot, thought she saw Ash look back at her, even just for a split second before they rode off, the sound of the horse's hooves not even fading completely before she limply dropped her head to the ground and slipped into a half sleep in the dying light of the setting sun.

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This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.
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