Gravel – John Cook

It pressed into her face, the sharp points and edges like a hundred needles igniting her nerves. Her lips pulsed with her beating heart. She could taste the blood in her mouth mixed with the dust and grit as she grimaced. She wanted to close her mouth against it but couldn’t. It got into her eyes stinging. Her vision blurred and darkened, her mind was too overwhelmed by the pain to bother with seeing. The world consisted of sharp gravel and the boot pushing her face into it. She tried to twist, to push herself up, and free herself of this reality, but this was met with formless jeers that rang hollow and distorted in her head.

The pressure lessened and She felt herself lifted up, pieces of the gravel still clinging to her face. Blinking through the grit an image started to form, the twisted and pinched face of her tormenter. She hung lose in the grip of the other, the swelling on the back of her head from the blunt blow sending sharp shards of fresh pain through her skull. The face moved forming words, words that were too lost in the distance between tormenter and pain. Without warning reality snapped back, her hearing sharpened, her limbs came alive.She felt it then, the warm, sticky flow, as it pulsed over her hands. She looked down; her hand was against the others abdomen. The handle of her long knife in her hand, the blade buried deep in the other. The others face had paled and he looked slightly confused, his victory so assured a moment ago now slipped away with his blood. Where did the knife come from, how had she pulled it out and used it? Strange and worthless questions now hung between them. Reality had set in.

With another spurt of adrenaline she pulled her knife out and aimed higher, thrusting in to the neck of the other. More blood rushed to meet the air and she lost grip on the blade as her hand became slick from the loss of life. The other staggered and fell the gravel giving way under his fumbling steps. His smooth red blood flowed over the gravel replacing the rough grit with its glossy shine.She brushed at her face watching the other die, removing the bits of gravel from her skin and unknowingly replacing it with blood. The other dead, the adrenaline burned, she sank to her knees, the sharp rocks biting into her once more rooting her to this spot. Keeping her upright when all else seemed to fade away.

The tumultuous crunch and grind of the gravel alerted her to more people rushing towards her. She scrambled on her hands and knees yanking her knife free and turning to meet the new assault. She stood, a wicked smile breaking her face, as drops of blood beat out a rhythm on the gravel.

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