For Sample Sunday here’s a chunk of my newest novel, Genesis – it’s a little like Mad Max meets X-Men:First Class.
The teens stopped cold at the scene in the store. Jake the storekeeper was on the ground in front of the counter, a large man looming over him holding a baseball bat in one hand. Jake was gasping for breath and holding his ribs, and the man standing over him wore a wicked grin. A thinner, equally filthy man stood by the door with a hunting knife in his hand. Christin and Matt froze in the door, then Matt bolted over to the man with the bat, drawing his pistol and aiming it at the big man.
“Drop the bat.” Matt said, and Christin wondered how he kept his voice from shaking.
The skinny man reached for her, and Christin dodged to one side, swatting his hands away. She put both hands on the counter and vaulted over it, putting the cash register between her and the thin robber. The third thug came into the shop then, and Matt’s eyes flickered over to the door, giving the first goon just enough of an opening to flick the bat out and knock Matt’s gun away. The man stepped forward and slammed his big fist into Matt’s jaw, sending the boy crashing to the floor next to Jake. Christin looked up at the noise, and the thin man caught her while she was distracted, pulling her kicking from behind the counter.
“Look what we found, Elmer. We got us some little busybodies.” The skinny man cackled, dropping Christin to the floor beside her brother.
“Yeah, but this one’s cute. Maybe we’ll take her with us to cook and clean up.” The big man rumbled.
“I don’t think so,” Christin spat back defiantly. “You wouldn’t like what I put in a stew. Like your ears!” The man she now knew was Elmer reached down and grabbed a handful of her hair, pulling her painfully to her feet.
He bent down level with her face and spoke very quietly and slowly. “Little girl, you’re old enough for me to have some real fun with, but I’m not into that kinda thing. Jed here is, though. So if you don’t shut up and stay out of our way, I’m gonna knock you slap out and give you to him for a birthday present. You understand?”
Christin’s eyes watered at the stench of his breath, a fetid mixture of beer, salted meat and human nastiness that had her stomach threatening to revolt all over the front of the man’s coveralls, but she managed a nod.
“Good. Now sit there like a good girl while we finish our shopping.” He dropped her back to the floor next to Matt, and picked up Matt’s pistol. He handed the gun to the third man and said “Watch them. If the boy moves, shoot him. If the girl moves, shoot the boy.” The other man nodded and leaned on the door, blocking it shut and keeping the gun by his side. The men moved through the store methodically, piling camping goods, hunting equipment and various tools on the counter. When they had amassed as much gear as they could carry, they loaded duffel bags with all their loot and started for the door.
Elmer stood for a moment at the counter looking down at the three of them sitting on the floor. Matt and the shopkeeper were glaring at them with eyes full of rage, but Christin was just trying to avoid the notice of the skinny Jed until they were gone. Elmer cleared his throat and said “I’m sorry we had to do this, Jake, but we ain’t had no work in three weeks, and now I don’t know what’s gone happen to us. We gotta get by best we can, and I’m sorry I had to knock you down for it. We won’t be back.”
“You better not, Elmer Clausen. If I so much as see you cross the street again I’ll kick your sorry ass and your worthless brother’s ass, too!” Jake spat a glob of yellow phlegm onto the big man’s shoe, and Elmer reared back to kick the old man in the face. As he did, Matt reached out, grabbed Elmer’s heavy work boot and pulled backwards with all his strength. The big man toppled backwards, dropping his bat as he flailed around trying to break his fall. Christin shot up and flung herself towards the door, hoping that she could get out and get help before the men regrouped. Jed was too fast for her, though, and he caught her around the waist, lifting her off the floor. She kicked uselessly at the air and squirmed, but the wiry man’s grip was like steel. He carried the struggling girl to the back of the store, into the small storeroom where Jake kept his cleaning supplies.
“Naw, missy, you ain’t gettin’ out of here that easy. You’re gonna give ol’ Jed a little taste before we get done here. Now just lay there and be good.” He tossed her to the floor and turned to lock the door behind them. The small room was dimly lit by a small window set high in one wall, and Christin could see nothing that would help her get away from her captor anywhere on the floor. Christin scooted on her butt along the floor until her back hit a shelf, then she clambered to her feet and made ready to fight off the skinny man.
Jed looked at her standing there, fists clenched and hair tousled, and let out a cackling laugh. “You’re a feisty one, ain’t you? That’s alright, I like ‘em with a little spirit.” He unfastened his belt and pulled it through the loops in his jeans. He wrapped the buckle in his calloused fist and let the worn leather dangle. As Christin looked around for anything she could use as a weapon, Jed flicked the belt out at her legs. The leather snapped painfully on her calf and Christin jumped sideways, only to find the belt flashing in at her from the other side. Again and again he lashed out at her legs and arms with the belt, striking like a cobra at her flailing limbs. Christin started to feel dizzy, and the edges of her vision started to sparkle.
Not now, she thought furiously. I will not faint now. Her head felt stuffed, like the air pressure in the room was too great, and she shook herself to clear her vision. The belt snapped painfully across her right arm again, but this time she reached out and caught the lash before Jed could pull it back. He grinned a nasty grin at her and pulled hard on the belt, dragging Christin into his arms. He put his hands on her upper arms and leaned in for a kiss. The pressure in Christin’s head increased until it felt like someone was stabbing her in the nose with an icepick, then she felt a huge rush outward, and Jed suddenly flew backwards away from her.
The skinny would-be rapist flew through the locked door, splintering it and landing in the aisle of the store. Christin looked down at her hands, which were surrounded by glowing blue sparkles, as if she was generating electricity from her body. Jed clambered to his feet some five yards away and pointed the pistol he’d taken from Matt at her. Christin raised her hands to ward off the bullets she expected to rip through her body, and felt that rush of power again. From behind clenched eyes she heard a terrified scream, and opened her eyes to see Jed running for the front of the store. She walked after him, hands crackling with energy, and watched as he bolted right past his cohorts and out into the street.
Matt stood over the other two men, bat raised for another swat as she made her way to where he stood. Matt took one look at her and dropped the bat. Elmer and his other partner scrambled to their feet and ran for the door as Matt and Jake gaped at Christin. “Sis,” Matt said “what happened?”
“I have no idea.” Christin said as a wave of weariness passed over her like a blanket and she collapsed in the front of the store.