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Tuesday, July 23, 2024

Dust and Sand – Chapter 30 – By Sean P. Wallace

That Which Sins was greater than the white force by far, a cruel and seemingly endless being that filled its sphere entirely, but its passage into the world was stunted by the door. And somehow Penelope instinctively knew her struggles had narrowed it further.

“No. Stop this. I am my own,” Penelope thought.

That Which Sins’ doorway narrowed in response. Penelope would have laughed if she could. She still had a choice, a say in the fight; she had not yet given herself over. And she chose to be her own.

That denial squeezed the door shut. The oily voice screamed but was cut off, wounded, leaving the god’s dwindling influence stuck in Penelope.

If That Which Sins couldn’t have her prize, she would destroy it in the process; the god’s magic  presence broke from the fight and crushed Penelope’s ribs, knees and skull. Though Penelope could see this was impossible her body disagreed and she could barely breathe for the overpowering agony.

The Indian warrior was knocked back by a riposte from That Which Sins, her will finally breaking. Penelope’s treacherous hands threw the black and blue wolf to the floor. Her fingers twitched and twisted before going after the Wanted Man, trying to rip his flesh apart.

The punishment escalated further without the warrior; serrated ice blades were driven in and out of her and warm acid was pumped into every orifice. In her mind, Penelope shrieked and shrieked. She begged with faltering breath for the Wanted Man to stop, to give her over to the bitch god if she wanted Penelope so badly. But Penelope had made her decision already and this pain was the price of freedom. She had held on for days in a shivering place of horror and she would have to cope with a few minutes more to be rid of what she’d inflicted on herself.

“Fucking arse. Damn-fucking Hell-arse fucks,” she said. Swearing helped, even if her repertoire was limited.

More of Penelope’s body was freed from the god’s control, revealing dozens of self-inflicted wounds. Freedom reached her upper arms and she pulled her vicious hands away from the Wanted Man, gave him some respite from the clawing. Her vision focussed slightly and she saw great lumps of flesh beneath her remaining nails, blood dripping down her fingers. To maintain a battle of wills with a god whilst his flesh was being torn from him… she was shocked out of her pain, such was her awe of him.

Soon she felt those horrible lumps of the Wanted Man’s flesh under her fingernails and the dull pain from the nails she’d lost. Her head and ribs popped out, felt round and unimpacted, and her senses sharpened. Her hands and feet twitched and were healed. Sounds even returned to her. She was back to normal.

Thank you,” she whispered.

Her savior smiled then collapsed, falling like a puppet whose strings had been cut. There was a thud as his chin cracked the altar before he landed in a crumpled pile.

Penelope rolled over. She recognised him as the strong-looking man she’d seen in the corridor, though most of his clothes had been burned away to reveal a horribly scarred form. By his feet was a comically large gun that could only be Noose. It was the Wanted Man, as she’d hoped. And he was out for the count.

Penelope sat up, looked to the Indian warrior and her strange wolf. “Is he okay?”

The warrior stood on her tiptoes and examined him. “Probably.”

“Should we help him?”

She nodded. “Probably.”

Penelope swung her legs off the altar and her cuts and bruises sang out. She winced but got to her feet, stood free of gods or compulsions. She was her own person, changed and freed, though not in the way That Which Sins had hoped. It was a terrifying and wonderful prospect. And the first thing she did was kneel to help the Wanted Man.

Sean is an editor, writer, and podcast host at Geek Pride, as well as a novelist. His self-published works can be found at all good eBook stores.

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