Wednesday, 10 May 2017

Wednesday Snippet - The second scream cut through the air

I'm pretty sure I'm going to start reaching the point in the writing process where it's impossible to avoid spoilers, so Wednesday Snippets may start getting thin on the ground. But we're not quite there yet, so let's check in with Lola. Enjoy!

Lola's spine stiffened, fear coursing through her. She shoved her way out of the cluster of people just as the second scream cut through the air – and then abruptly, chillingly, died. Her skin prickled as the red-hot energy of fresh-spilled blood washed over her. She whirled toward the scream and, impossible or not, saw a great, shadowy horse rearing up over the heads of the market-dwellers, fiery eyes blazing in the dim cavern light. The rider wielded a blade that it brought down hard, sweeping through the people tangled around the horse.

A roar of protest went up from the crowd. Lola had a sick, sudden flash of memory, watching video footage of the LA riots in history class. The pandemonium, the mindless violence, the raw anger. Adrenaline flooded her as people started surging around her, some toward the horse, some away. She was buffeted along like driftwood on stormy seas, helpless against the tide and forced to move or be crushed. She wouldn't have fought it anyway – they were carrying her away from the Guard, further down the aisle and toward the cave wall. Stall owners poured into the mass too, abandoning their goods without a backward glance as the Guard forced its panicking steed into the throng.

The horse screamed, hooves thudding with an iron beat as it pushed through the crowd. The rider swung its sword carelessly, sending people crashing into stalls and each other in their mad scramble to avoid the blade. All it did was slow the horse down as people stumbled underfoot and around it, and Lola glanced back to see it rear again, bringing wicked hooves slamming down onto a demon's horned head. A fleshy crunch reached her ears and bile rose in her throat.

She turned away, focusing on fighting through the panicking crowd, dodging elbows and trampling feet. Up ahead, it had split into streams as people shoved their way through gaps in the stalls and tents, moving deeper into the Undermarket and spreading the hysteria like wildfire. Over the roars and screams, she heard the eerie wails of more horses and her heart stuttered, fear choking her.

She had to get out. Every instinct screamed that she had to get out, because if they were after her, if they were hunting her, there was no escape here. The Undermarket was one huge rat trap.

Her eyes fell on the rocky doorway ahead, spitting smoke and shadows. It was far too narrow for a horse to fit through. That was all her desperately churning brain could latch onto. She could hide in there until the Guard passed, then sneak back out of the Undermarket.

It was a terrible plan. It was the only one she had. She started elbowing and clawing her way through the thick knot of demons and humans, toward the gap in the cave wall.

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