Reads: 254  | Likes: 0  | Shelves: 0  | Comments: 0

More Details
Status: In Progress  |  Genre: Fantasy  |  House: Booksie Classic

a short excerpt of a novel i am working on, to be submitted as a short story in the young writer short story contest

Submitted: February 28, 2018

A A A | A A A

Submitted: February 28, 2018




1102 Words


Edmund sprinted across the rooftops as the volley of crossbow bolts whizzed past him, barely missing. One of the bolts met its mark, lodging itself in Edmund’s shoulder and knocking him to the ground.  He scrambled to his feet and turned to face his assailant.

The automaton dutifully marched forward.  The moonlight shining on its metallic body allowed Edmund to see his pursuer in its entirety.

 The machine was beautiful, but harsh.  An artistic tangle of swooping steel plates and brass piping.  It stood squat to the ground, on six wedged feet, skittering about like a spider.  Mounted on the legs was a swiveling repeater, keeping its sights trained on Edmund’s chest.  Overall, it stood approximately four feet tall, but it’s diminutive height did nothing to mask its threat.

“Cease your attempts at elusion immediately, or be met with lethal action.”  The machine croaked from a speaker on its chassis.  A slot opened on the repeater, and a belt of ammunition locked itself into firing position.

Edmund looked over his shoulder, scanning for an escape, but found none.  He scowled, then reached into one of the satchels on his waist, withdrawing a small grey bead.  Cocking his arm back, he hurled the bead at the automaton.

With a loud chunk, the bolt flew from the repeater and struck the bead out of the air.  Its surface shattered, and a flash of blinding light burst forth, quickly subsiding again.  The mounted repeater swung back towards Edmund, unfazed by the radiant flash.

“Hostile intent confirmed, you have ten seconds to relinquish your armaments and yield yourself”  The machine screeched, its voice increasing in volume and pitch.

Despite the automaton’s insistence, Edmund stood firm, with a look of defiance.  The machine approached him slowly, its steel feet cracking and shattering clay roof tiles as it thudded closer and closer.  It stopped about twenty-five feet away from Edmund, and he saw the line of bolts recede from the crossbow, only to be replaced with a different variety; these tipped with small reservoirs of pale blue fluid.

Edmund cursed, and crouched to the ground with his hands behind his head.  A hit from one of those bolts would do a lot more than knock him down.  The corrosive fluid in the tip would dissolve through clothes and skin alike.

The machine approached the crouched Edmund, doggedly oblivious to the sudden dryness in the air, or the crackling sound of ozone that enveloped it.  It did, however, notice the arcs of amaranth lightning that arced between its legs like a jacob’s ladder.  

The automaton reacted violently once the energy struck its core. Its joints spasmed and jerked, and the mounted crossbow creaked violently, shuddering and firing in all directions.  Edmund fell to the floor, pressing himself against the ground to avoid stray bolts.

“Hosssstile in-Kzzzht  Confir-fir-firmed-d-d,”  buzzed the machine,  “ Y-ou ha-ave ten-ten-ten-ten-teeeeeooooogh…”

Edmund stood as the automaton powered down, fried beyond function.  A  lone man smugly strolled out from behind the wreckage.  His face caught the moonlight and revealed to Edmund a familiar smirk.

Edmund cracked a grin and rushed over to the stranger, wrapping him in his arms and pulling him farther away from the still-sparking heap of scrap.

“What’s the matter, neic?? Just can’t run like you used to, eh?” laughed the man, extricating himself from the embrace. Edmund rolled his eyes at the nickname.  Though they weren’t technically brothers, Soren was fond of the way the romanian rolled off his tongue, and eventually the nickname stuck.

Remembering the automaton, Edmund’s face grew grim, and the youthful joy that shone in his smile dropped away. He turned his attention to the defunct automaton, and rushed over to where it lay in disrepair.  Digging through its shell, he spotted a small unfamiliar lens that was affixed to its core.  He plucked it from the drone and examined it closely.

“These vân?tor are different, Soren. No matter where I hid or how far I ran, they followed me. It was almost like they could see me, even in pitch-black darkness,”  He said, handing the small red-tinted lens to Soren.  “I think this...thing lets them track us.  It’s the only thing that’s different than the last generation.”

Soren glared at the small piece of curved glass, turning it this way and that in his hand. He withdrew a small cotton cloth from a pouch on his hip, wrapping the lens and stowing it away once more.

“We’d best take this back to Nona. She’ll figure it all out.” Soren’s expression was grim. Nona was the best engineer back at the enclave. She’d been tinkering on vân?tor parts for as long as she could walk, and none of the teens could remember a time when there wasn’t some sort of tool in her hands.

 Soren quickly resumed his sly smirk. He clasped his hands out in front of him, interlocking his fingers and squeezing tightly.  Edmund’s hair stood on end as purple sparks danced and weaved across Soren’s fists.

He rolled his eyes at Soren.  “You big show-off, can’t we go the normal way for once?”

Soren laughed as his feet slowly hovered away from the clay rooftop. He unclasped his fingers and beckoned to Edmund.

Edmund took his hand, and his skin tingled as the amethyst lightning arced from Soren’s fist to his, crawling up his forearms as he himself rose to meet Soren in the sky.

Edmund’s flight was soon interrupted, however, by the telltale whistling of a flying crossbow bolt.  His gaze whipped back to the rooftop, where several vân?tor had gathered around their fallen comrade.  One had its sights trained on the two boys.  The others swiveled their repeaters toward the two boys, and squawked warnings to the hovering fugitives.  Soren rolled up his sleeve, glanced at a small vial of glowing fluid, and saw that it was nearly empty. He cursed in romanian.

“Hold tight, Edmund,” He called, “I’ve not got enough juice to take them all on. Best I can manage is an extraction.”

Edmund began to worry. Soren’s extractions rarely ended well. His last passenger materialized halfway into a wall, and Nona had to make him a prosthetic leg out of vân?tor joints.

The air fizzled around the two boys, as Soren’s eyes began to glitter and shine with amaranth light.  The lightning that once gently danced across the boys’ interlocked hands now flurried through both of them, stampeding almost painfully hot against their flesh. With a sharp hiss, and a resounding crackle, Edmund and Soren disappeared in a blinding flash, barely preceding the volley of well aimed corrosive repeater bolts.

© Copyright 2019 David Williams. All rights reserved.

Add Your Comments:

More Fantasy Short Stories