"Roylsden" drabbles by Drew Martyn

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Giving Up

Roylsden #317

And without warning the tears flow fast and loud and my whole body begins trembling. My vision darkens around the edges and I'm so sick and faint.
I give up - I'm too tired to fight this anymore, a tiny voice from a different time tells me.
It's my voice.
Give up, I tell myself. Let it happen. Let death come.
Then, another voice:
Deny life if you want, Anna Cody, but you cannot deny there is always a road back.
I'm shocked that it's not Taya Two-Horses voice.
It's mine.
Damn you, I shout, I'm not giving up anything!

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The Dark Study

Roylsden #316

McGinley's study doorway. Looking in, there's hardly enough light to see anything, but I can make out a herd of bodies... and faces that don't look real.
There's the Sheriff roping Mrs McGinley into a chair. Mickey, Eddie and the Doc together. Sam and Zeke and their Pa, huddled in a group. They're all staring at me like I was a ghost.
Shock in their wide eyes.
Why don't somebody say something?
It's unreal. This place. These motionless wax effigies. It doesn't exist!
This feeling that everything is unreal - that's the only real thing here.
Is this how death feels?

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Roylsden #315

As I crawled away from the window, the thunder of gunshots reverberated around the single thought in my head: why'd she want me dead?
Clicks of empty barrels and commotion followed me, my name screamed over and over again. Beneath the screams, Mickey O'Donohue's voice, like an indistinct bass rumble.
And then - Oh, thank you God! He's alive! - Sheriff Cole's strong, reassuring voice, shouting above the screams:
"Good boy, well done Clint, get me some rope!"
If Clint can get rope - never mind, I can't think straight anymore, he's alive and I've got to get inside and see he's okay.

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Reflected Motion

Roylsden #314

As her weapons strained in her hands to stare at me, there was movement in my reflection.
I refocused.
Ignored Mrs McGinley. Ignored her guns.
Behind me, an eagle landed. Alongside me, Taya Two-Horses sat astride an enormous shimmering Appaloosa.
And everything slowed.
When there was a flash from the rifle barrel followed by another from the pistol, the horse reared high beside me and it's hooves pushed hard against my shoulder, throwing me sideways.
And when the windowpane exploded into a million shards I was lying on the floor, and its jagged rain stung my face.

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Before The Shooting

Roylsden #313

It's weird when you see your face and it doesn't look like you.
Here, at this window, here's my reflection, but the me that I see reflected is enough to frighten the dead. Maybe my reflection is showing me I am dead?
I must be dead.
Must be, because behind the reflection of my eyes and through the glass's flickering light, I can see Mrs McGinley standing, screaming because I'm scaring her worse than ol' Satan would.
Maybe I am dead and it's my ghost we can both see. Poor cow.
But now Mrs McGinley's weapons are seeing me, too.

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Find Anna

Roylsden #312

Sherman and O'Donohue knelt alongside Doc Morris, who smiled weakly.
"I've staunched it," he said, "but I could do with help getting it up on a chair."
Eddie Sherman raised the leg, the Doc suppressing a wince. Mickey dragged a chair and helped him get comfortable as Eddie tightened the tourniquet around his thigh.
"Find Anna," Doc Morris whispered.
"Stay quiet, Doc," Mickey ordered. "I'll find her, then we'll sort out your leg."
No one mentioned the silence outside.
Or what it meant for Anna after the storm of bullets which had just torn the flesh from the night air.

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Roylsden #311

Lucy was powerless against the terror that now completely occupied her, and frantically she threw both pistol and rifle at the deeper blackness of the window. Over and over, she screamed Anna Cody's name, until Clint's leg swung from behind her and through her calves, taking her legs from beneath her. The room whirled and she sensed herself spinning backwards and falling before she felt the pain in the backs of her legs.
Cole reacted quickly, leaping at Lucy and pinning her frantically flailing arms to the floor as, in abject fear, she continued screaming the name of Anna Cody.

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Roylsden #310

Cold wind shrieked into the room, the lamplight flared briefly, stuttering a jaundiced yellow, then died. The room became all but blind.
"Leave me alone!" Lucy screamed at the cold black night outside, her sobbing loud and desperate, "Let me be, Anna Cody! Let me be!"
The repeated clicks of the pistol's hammer on its empty chamber rattled the room as she desperately tried to pour more bullets through the shattered window. The last of the Winchester's ammunition had been used up, too, but she still flung the rifle backwards then forwards, trying in vain to feed its hungry barrel.

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Roylsden #309

Lucy saw it.
Its hair was matted, filthy burial clothes spattered and smeared with mud fresh from its tomb, its arms hung limp and lifeless.
It slowly advanced, inexorably closer, revealing its features: face yellowed; lips taut, snarling; but those eyes! Black, sunken and soulless, sought only her. Lucy beheld eyes of hatred, the eyes of the dead who cannot rest, the eyes of innocence seeking terrible revenge.
In one swift movement, Lucy raised and fired rifle and pistol into the blackness of the window, her terrified scream accompanying the ferocity of the hot rain pouring through the shattering glass.

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Roylsden #308

I know they're in there, I heard shots, heard yelling. But what can I see from here? Nothing but lamplight, its fake promise of home and warmth, not even a promise anymore, not even false hope to cling on to, oh he's dead, isn't he?
Clint? Can you hear me speaking in silence to you?
You hang on, Clint Dempsey.
Please, Clint, please...
I'm heading for that window. Even if I cant see in, maybe Clint can see out.
And the closer I get, what can I see? Nothing, except my own mucky reflection staring lifelessly, soullessly, back at me.

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Roylsden #307

Now! It must be now!
But Cole couldn't move! Yet it wasn't fear that held him.
Had he moved, Lucy's pistol would have spat lead and a bullet would have stopped Cole's heart instantly before burying itself in the far wall.
But he was frozen by Lucy's face suddenly paling deathly white and the guttural scream of horror erupting from her gaping mouth.
Movement outside the window had terrified her. In her heightened state, her stomach had flipped and her heart missed a beat even before she'd realised she'd seen anything.
To Lucy, everything suddenly became unreal.
Death was approaching.

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Skirting The Glow

Roylsden #306

I want to be warm again.
Clint's in there.
And Doc.
And after them gunshots, they could both be dead.
I can't stop shivering.
Lamplight is warm. Seen from far away it's home, a yellow welcome. The lamp in the window, the soft, warm glow outside.
Careful, Anna Cody, my grandma would say now.
Move like the spirits, Taya Two-Horses would say: silently, with knowledge and understanding.
So, skirting the yellow glow, staying in the shadows, I try peeking in through the window, but from this far away all I can see is lamplight painting patterns on the glass

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Hold The Eyes

Roylsden #305

Hold her eyes Cole, he told himself. Hold the eye contact. Nobody shoots a man they look in the eye, a man who's soul they can see.
Hold the eyes.
The sobbing had stopped. Samuel knelt transfixed on the desk. Mickey O'Donohue, arms still stretched out in front of him, sat statuesque.
The flickering flame on the windowsill gave unreal movement to the shadows.
Outside, under the wind-buffeted black blindfold of night, the rain had stopped completely.
Then Lucy's eyes left Cole's to glance briefly at the window; and he knew the end was but a trigger squeeze away.

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Roylsden #304

The recognisable click of the Colt's hammer as it locked into position sent a tremor around the room.
If this is it, thought Sheriff Cole, so be it, but no one else is going down.
He braced himself as his eyes met Lucy McGinley's head-on. The collision revealed to her his suppressed fear; it revealed to Sheriff Cole that there was something inside her that was destroying the human being. Could be her childhood, perhaps, could be that maybe Kashmir is in there still.
Either way, those eyes foretold death and there was no compassion to alleviate any pain.

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Roylsden #303

Lucy's thoughts were in turmoil, every foreseeable course of action she could take carried with it so many unanswered questions. Everything was so confusing.
But after darkness comes the dawning.
Don't complicate matters you worthless fool, she whispered to herself. Keep it simple. Act now. Deal with the consequences afterwards.
And with four men dead, there could be no consequences.
It would all be over.
Such a simple, straightforward solution.
She raised the Winchester, pointing the barrel at O'Donohue. And with the pistol pointing at Sheriff Cole's heart, she cocked back the hammer with her thumb.
"You first, Cole. Goodbye!"

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Roylsden #302

Everyone, victim or witness, acknowledged murder was inevitable. But perhaps it was O'Donohue's prophecy that delayed the inevitable. His words were quiet yet carried with them a glimpse of the truth: "Mrs McGinley, Anna will always haunt you. You know that."
Strange, thought Mickey, how, with death as close as ticks to a clock, I think of something weird to say.
But it did seem that what he'd said had made Lucy think. And Mickey admitted to himself, as if he were pointing out something to an interested observer, that he had no idea why he'd said what he did.

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Silent Confession

Roylsden #301

For a split- second, Lucy McGinley confessed to herself she really wanted to kill her husband. Put two bullets into his chest and silence his incessant whining. But gathering her control immediately, she spun back to Sheriff Cole and in a voice that was both frantic and controlling screamed "Don't move!"
At that point, Cole expected to see and hear the flash and crack of the pistol and feel the agony of his own death, but instead he saw nothing but the trembling barrel and heard nothing but Samuel sobbing loudly, repeating over and over again "I'm not leaving you!"

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Hints Of Desperation?

Roylsden #300

"Boys! I'm in charge here!" Lucy's voice was strained, becoming high-pitched.
Almost desperate? wondered Sheriff Cole, as she leaned towards her sons. "Get out now!"
"Dear God Lucy, please let them boys be!" Minister McGinley was visibly trembling but somehow he managed to force the words out. "You're not well, Lucy, you're -"
"Shut your mouth!" Lucy screamed, and the barrels of both the rifle and the pistol swung up to stare black-eyed at her husband's chest.
"No, Ma!" yelled Samuel and he climbed frantically onto the desk, kneeling, shaking and sobbing between his mother and his father.

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Leave Now

Roylsden #299

"Children. Please leave the room."
Her voice quavered. Joshua McGinley, still staring in disbelief at Mickey, shot a look of alarm first at his wife then at Sheriff Cole.
"Leave now, children." Her voice grew stronger.
They didn't move from their father's side.
Words spoken slowly, anger suppressed, but only just: "Get out! Now, boys!"
It's not right that they should see four men being murdered. No, not being murdered. Being released.
"I'm staying, Ma," Zeke blurted out.
Could they cope with it?
"Me, too!" whispered Samuel.
Or is it better to release them, too, before they remember these deaths?

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The Courage Of Release

Roylsden #298

Lucy fell silent.
All memories hurt, hurt real bad. Yes, Anna's better off dead, not accumulating any more horrible memories. Lucy's memories mirrored what O'Donohue said of Anna. It would have been easier on me if I'd been released earlier, she thought, if someone had the courage to release me.
And here, these men have to be released too, whatever their lives are like, however good or bad or -
Lucy shook herself. All this conjecture was pointless. Outside, the wind howled just as strongly but the rain had eased. The storm was ending.
It was time to end matters here.