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AUTHOR'S NOTE: Another Vince story. I didn't mean for it to come out this dark, but there you go. Be sure to drop by Three Word Wednesday and Weekend Writer's Retreat for more fun.

"What the hell did you think you were doing?"

Speedball frowned. "I thought she was with the Catorces."

Vince pressed down hard, trying to stanch the blood. "The Catorces are our allies. If you'd lay off the drugs once in awhile, you might be able to remember a thing or two."

Speedball stepped back with an injured air.

Ozone had been digging through their box of medical supplies, but he stopped and gave Vince a look. "Be fair, man. Things change practically every week."

Vince was in no mood to be fair. Speedball's impulsiveness might've gotten them in serious trouble this time. Their alliances had never been very robust, and injuring someone for no reason could be their death sentence. "Has someone gone to get Sara? This girl needs proper medical care."

"Gitana left a little while ago." Ozone selected a clean rag and brought it over.

While Ozone took over, pressing his fresh rag into the wound, Vince looked at the girl more closely. Her smooth dark skin suggested tribal blood, and she seemed young - barely out of her teens. Her clothes and weapons suggested fight training of some sort and the money to get kitted out properly. Perhaps Speedball hadn't been wrong to think she was a threat.

Vince patted her pockets, hoping to find identification or some sign of gang affiliation, but found only a crumpled card from a local church commemorating the Feast of Simon and Jude, and an odd hand-stitched item that he couldn't guess the use of but suspected was a charm of some sort. Meant to ward off evil, it had been useless against Speedball, who was merely reckless.

Vince looked at the card again. Wasn't Jude the one who helped with lost causes? Maybe he could help where Vince couldn't. He tucked the card back in her pocket, feeling Speedball's gaze on him the entire time. "What?" He got to his feet.

Speedball looked away. "Nothing. Just...I'm sorry, you know. I was only trying to protect us."

"I know." The girl still lay motionless and Ozone's rag was starting to soak through. For all any of them knew, the girl might have been a threat, after all. Just because she was young and attractive didn't mean she wasn't deadly. Vince suppressed a grim smile. He was always quick with the assumptions when he saw a pretty face. "You meant well, but next time..."


"Capture intruders. Don't go off on them like this."

The girl's breathing had become strange and hoarse, as if she were choking. Vince knew the sound and turned away. "I might've liked to have talked to her, find out what she wanted. And now we'll never know."

For more stories about Vince, go here.


Alice Audrey said...

Whoah! It's dark all right. Well written, of course, but dark. Kind of reminds me of parts of Steal Tomorrow.

September 9, 2010 at 1:35 AM
Gary Baker said...

Interesting .. I shall read more about Vince ..

September 9, 2010 at 3:01 AM
christopher said...

well done, you caught me and I read all the way. An intriguing setting.

September 9, 2010 at 4:12 AM
R.S. Bohn said...

Wow, that's tough. A lot of tension all around, which you captured well.

September 9, 2010 at 6:41 AM
Thom Gabrukiewicz said...

Very tense, but I now expect no less with these stories. You've created another look into this desolate world and it just keeps getting better and better.

September 9, 2010 at 9:15 AM
Jane Doe said...

It is dark, but I love dark. Very well written.

September 9, 2010 at 11:54 AM
K said...

Ann...seriously intense writing. Think before you act, right? I totally agree with Alice, in that this is very Steal Tomorrow-ish. And you know how I feel about ST. Loved it! This too.

September 9, 2010 at 5:38 PM
dolorah said...

Oh, but I like it. Well built characters who seem comfortable with each other, intriguing action, tension, empathy.

Oh yeah, I like it.


September 10, 2010 at 1:49 AM
Thomma Lyn said...

Excellent piece, my friend -- stark, dark, and poignant. This line, one of many that says so much: "Meant to ward off evil, it had been useless against Speedball, who was merely reckless."

September 13, 2010 at 7:45 PM
Susan Helene Gottfried said...

Really fascinating. There's real depth to Vince here and a self-awareness that he doesn't like to let show.

Sometimes, we need the dark stuff in order to see it.

September 15, 2010 at 2:44 PM

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