It Continues: Company of the Damned, Part 2
This one is a little shorter than the first; but I felt it was better to post now at the end of a complete scene, than to cut off halfway through the next scene or delay posting till later this week. If you’re just joining us, start at the beginning: Part 1.
Company of the Damned, Part 2
Odi followed the man for some distance into the night. In the darkness he relied as much on the clopping of the horse’s hooves, and sharp scent of smoke from the cigarette the man had lit, as on the silhouette he presented against the night sky. Though his feet were sore and he was tired, Odi spoke no word of complaint when the man passed by seemingly suitable campsites. Instead he felt at the sharp edge of his stone, and let his eyes rove over the horizon.
After somewhat less than an hour they stopped at a stand of scraggly trees, which appeared only as a blotch of blackness against the gray-white sea of moonlit grass. The old gunslinger hopped down from his saddle, and turned for the first time to see that the boy had indeed followed him.
“Good lad. We’ll sleep here tonight. The ground’s hard and I can’a risk a fire, but yer welcome to me poncho if’n you need a pillow.”
With that he led the horse into the greater darkness of the trees, leaving Odi to follow -or not- as he chose. For a few long minutes the boy stood, searching the shadowy shapes before him and listening to the gentle whisper of the breeze dancing across the plains. When he saw and heard nothing suspicious, he slowly walked in among the umbrous leaves.
At first the swaying limbs of the grove blotted out the moon and stars, plunging him into a pitch dark gloom. He stumbled over roots, and felt sharp ended twigs stabbing at the soles of his thick calloused feet; and even once took a branch in the face, etching a line of pain across his cheek. But after a bit he came out into a small clearing, to find the horse already unsaddled and brushed down, and Jaime settling in against a tree. He glanced over at the boy briefly when he entered the clearing, then nodded over to a rumpled roll of cloth laying on the ground and closed his eyes. Odi looked from Jaime to the poncho and back again, before walking over to it and laying down. He lay very still in the dark, his stone clutched to his chest, but did not close his eyes.
Later that night, as Jaime lay sleeping, the boy stood in the moonlight, sucking his thumb and watching. He hefted the weight of his stone in his hand, and took a small step forward. When Jaime didn’t stir, he stepped closer. After a few minutes of silent, slow, progress, he stood over the sleeping man.
In sleep the hard edges of his face softened some, but he still looked like something carved from desert bedrock. Odi stood, watching the slow rise and fall of his chest for some time, before he raised the stone over his head, gripped in both hands. Poised to kill, he rose to his tip toes, when his eyes caught on the soft green of an apple that had rolled from Jaime’s pack. Exhaling slowly, he lowered the stone and turned to walk away.
“Smart move, boy. It’d have been a real shame to kill you.”
Odi glanced back in time to see Jaime close his eyes once more, and the flash of moonlight on the barrel of his six-gun as he tucked it back in its holster.
“Now get some sleep, I aim to rise with the sun.”
Odi stumbled back to where the poncho lay, letting the weight of his stone fall to ground, before curling up and slipping into a deep slumber.
Continued: Part 3