Linus ducked as the bruiser swung his club in a wide arc, then he angled his forearm to block the guy's kick. As he'd thought, the clumsy slash was at least partly an act; this jerk wasn't nearly as drunk as he pretended to be. He was either already mad about something and looking for a fight, or he just had it in for people that smoked cheap tobacco. Or maybe - Linus ducked another slash, blocked another kick - it had something to do with the sign on the wall of the tavern.
Who had ever heard of a tavern that didn't let you light up? And who the hell was King Nosmo, anyway? Why should he have the right to tell people what they could and couldn't do with such a simple pleasure of life?
Another slash, another kick. Linus had this guy's number now. At first, he'd thought the guy would pull a double-fake and go for a complicated attack on the backswing of his lead cudgel slash. Linus was accustomed to fighting some pretty canny opponents and was on the lookout for such techniques. But no, it looked like there was no hidden reserve of subtlety beneath the fake, no lurking sophistication in the guy's fighting style. He was clearly a local tough with a limited bag of fighting tricks, skating on his reputation for being a tricky fighter. As such, he was no match for a truly skilled soldier, an expert in hand-to-hand with a wide experience in the most dangerous parts of the continent.
On the fourth swing, Linus ducked under it and angled over to get perpendicular to the anticipated snap kick, preparing himself to use it to flip the guy backwards. The foot came up and Linus made to grab it.
Before Linus' eyes, the world went white, the world went black, the world went all starry sparkly swirly.
And then it went black again and stayed that way for a while.
It was a long while.
A very long while.
When the blackness went from a black blackness to a reddish sort of blackness, Linus became aware that he was in trouble. It took another couple of minutes to associate the incredible pain in his head and ribs with the pulsing of that reddish blackness, and another couple of minutes after that to realize that the pulsing of the pain and the pulsing of the reddish blackness coincided perfectly with his breathing.
He considered giving up breathing altogether, but his resolve wavered after only half a minute. Slowly, Linus opened his eyes - discovering in the process that his eyes hurt, too - and the reddish blackness gave way to a shiny blackness. It was enormous, shifting and pulsing fuzzily, but not in time with his breathing. He was trying to understand where he was and what this shiny blackness meant, when it moved toward him, filling the world and blotting out the sky. With an effort that tore off the top of his head and filled it with a swarm of angry wasps, Linus tried in vain to pull away from it.
The man standing over Linus again nudged him on the nose with his shiny black shoe.
"Hey, buddy. You OK?"
Perspective snapped into being, and with it, Linus' world shifted from abstractions of color and pain, light and darkness, and instead became a broken nose, a split lip and a bundle of cracked ribs, all lying on cold flagstones in a mixed puddle of cigarette ashes and stale beer. He closed his eyes again.
"Nah, come on, now, you don't wanna do that. Don't go to sleep, pal. The way you got thrashed, you might not wake up from it. Hey, buddy, I'm trying to do you a favor. Let's get you up, get you some fresh air."
Linus snapped open his eyes, fear overcoming his desire to sleep.
The man was bending down so he could pull Linus to his feet. Linus saw his doom coming but was powerless to stop his would-be savior, incapable of waving the man off. Though it made the world water and swim with the pain in his ribs, he drew a deep breath. Screams of agony, he knew, took plenty of air.
WRITTEN BY... TONY NOLAND!!!
The story you just read appears here on my blog as a part of the Great April Fool's Day FridayFlash Blog Swap, organized by Tony Noland. You can find my story for today at TONY NOLAND's website HERE. To read all the dozens of stories swapping around as a part of the GAFDFFBS, check out the GAFDFFBS index over at Tony's blog Landless. For hundreds of thousands of words of fantastic flash fiction stories, check out the FridayFlash hastag on Twitter. It happens every Friday!
Read more: http://www.tonynoland.com/2011/03/great-april-fools-day-fridayflash-blog_9145.html#ixzz1I7eZeONy