Close up of female eyes with knuckles clenched near nose.

Shock Sets In

C.J. dropped the rock he used to hit the Apache. None of the last few minutes seemed real, but he had an arrow sticking through his side that attested otherwise.

He had just murdered another person. An enemy, but a human being nevertheless.

Then the unspeakable happened.

Esther May mutilated the man.

Sweet Esther May. How could she do that?

C.J. held his side and sat with his back to a stump, careful to keep from bumping the arrow and slipped into disassociation. His side was on fire making him visualize splinters had sheared off the shaft like porcupine quills and stabbed him. His visions were a trick of this not-real world where he no longer interacted, only observed.

Esther May Not Much Better

He watched Esther May use the knife to cut the rawhide that bound her ankles. It was a two-handed effort since her wrists were still tied.

She was keening in soft high monotones with long tails. Every breath she took, the eerie wail slid uninterrupted through her lips as she sawed the cord.

C.J.’s awareness was enough to realize that if he weren’t observing through the gauze of his detached view, Esther May’s moaning would raise the hair on the back of his neck.

Esther May freed her feet. She came up on one knee pointing the knife at the Apache. He hadn’t stirred but his ribcage rose and fell with shallow, irregular movements.

She stood, walked the few steps to C.J., knelt in front of him and extended her bound wrists. The message was clear enough. Still pressing his side with one hand, he tried to untie the rawhide cord with his other.

He wasn’t solving Esther May’s problem and she was hollering at him. Strong words. It wasn’t his fault. He was just so sleepy.

She pushed the knife handle into his hand. How had she done that? Was it even possible?

With C.J. and Esther May both trying, they cut the cord. A massive wave of relief swept through C.J. He saw himself dancing around the spot, this tiny arena in the hills filled with life and death.

Tending the Wounds

What was Esther May doing? Telling him something? She used the spine of the knife to tap against the arrowhead.

Something was wrong. The arrow didn’t go straight through. Every hit Esther May put on the extended end, C.J. felt in his side and all the way up through his chest. The arrow must bend inside of him. He had to tell Esther May to stop.

He couldn’t remember saying the words, but he must have because she quit hitting the arrowhead.

She was close to him now. Almost nose-to-nose. Her eyes were serious, almost scared.

C.J. glanced at the Apache. He was still sprawled as C.J. left him. What was scaring Esther May?

She grabbed the long end of the arrow shaft and jerked.

C.J. felt her yank the air out of his lungs. His pain increased to such a sharp point that he no longer felt it. That was good because the arrow hadn’t come all the way out.

Esther May tugged hard again and had it all in her hand. He could heal up now.

The force of her pull turned C.J. to one side.

Something was wrong. Esther May was looking at his back. Did he have a big hole where the arrow poked through? Was he bleeding? What?

Esther May reached behind him and pulled his pistol out of his gun belt. Somewhere during the hectic events, his belt must have gotten skewed around.

Esther May held the gun in front of his face and screamed, “You stupid (here she used a very unladylike word). Why didn’t you shoot him?”

Is C.J. such a milquetoast that he was too petrified to act when he first saw the Apache? Is he worthy of Esther May? Leave a comment now.

Do you have trouble believing that a gun belt could shift around? They weren’t like the western movies portray them. Check them out here.

To read the series, click on September 2017, in the Archive list and start with Tales Old Roy Told.

Writing Fiction is published on Wednesdays.

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2 thoughts on “Trauma

  1. Oh my goodness….. this just gets worse! I can’t imagine how tired, pained, hungry and scared these two people are… if the Apache isn’t dead, Esther May needs to confirm the kill in whatever way she can but don’t waste bullets. Poor CJ, he’s hallucinating due to the excruciating pain, can’t imagine what he is going through. It would be nice if some good people found them, got CJ doctored, get them cleaned up and fed. Someone that can be trusted and know the territory.


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