Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Marsh Madness: Part Four

            "Can I sit here?" Leopold asked.
            Raven looked up from her lunch and stared at him for a few long moments. To him they felt like eternity. Finally she swallowed the food that she was chewing and made a sweeping gesture with her hand to the rock that she was sitting on.
            "Be my guest." The tone was less than sincere. "I thought that I was so small as to escape your notice." She clearly didn't want him to sit, but he did anyway.

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Marsh Madness: Part Three

            The sun was up again and shining through the trees, and the mosquitoes and gnats were out in full vengeance. Leopold led The Group out into the marsh, heading toward a large patch of stedillion. Daniel had suggested that he lead the party since he was the youngest and had made some lame excuse out of that fact. Leopold knew that it was just an excuse; he could tell that Daniel was scared of this swamp. The wizard simply didn't want to be in the front in case there were ghosts or something of the sort lurking about. Leopold certainly didn't put any stock in stories of the sort; the worst thing that they had to contend with would be the plants that they were gathering and the bugs that continued to bite them. A snake might happen along or perhaps something a bit larger, but it was sure to be nothing that they couldn't handle. He looked back at his brother. The older boy had brought an axe today, ostensibly to aid in the plant gathering, but more likely it was to fight with should that become necessary. Even Raven seemed ready for a skirmish. Though she was dressed as lightly as the previous day, her hand rested on the hilt of her dagger, always ready to  use it at a moment's notice.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Marsh Madness: Part Two

            "You and your stupid contracts are going to get us killed one day, Daniel," Midas groaned. He waved his swollen hands in the air. "What am I supposed to do about this?"
            "Suck it up and be a man," the wizard suggested. "Everyone else has the same problem."
            Raven and Leopold nodded in agreement as they looked over their swollen bodies. No matter how much care they had given, the thorns of the stedillion always seemed to find and pierce their skin. They had taken on so much of the poison that their hands and arms were swollen almost beyond use. One side of Leopold's face was also swollen due to an unfortunate accident with one plant.
            The biggest problem with the plants was their stems. Though they were tough enough to require a knife to cut them, they were also extremely flexible. Trying to slash through their stems simply resulted in them bending over and not breaking. It was necessary to hold the plant with one hand while cutting through it with a knife. In other words, there was no good way to do it.
            "I don't get it," Raven said suddenly. The Group had stopped gathering a half hour ago and were now waiting on their dinner to cook.
            "What don't you get?" Leopold asked. He was using his knife, as well as he could given his swollen hands, to sharpen a stick.

Monday, August 12, 2013

Marsh Madness: Part One

            "You have the whole world to choose from and this is the job that you pick?" Leopold asked, looking out over the swamp that stretched before him. It was thick with trees and swamp plants but not so thick as to hide the sticky, squelchy mud underneath. The smell was horrible but every so often a large bubble would rise to the surface of the mud and burst, releasing a foul odor that, as Midas was fond of saying, would knock a buzzard off a manure wagon. A dull sucking sound indicated that this had happened again, and Leopold's nostrils were assaulted by the awful stink.

Friday, August 09, 2013

The Poker Table: Part Seven

            "Holly cow, did you see me!" Killjoy exclaimed when they were several blocks away from the Free For All. "The Safe Haven being worth two or three million! I can't believe that I pulled that one off with a straight face."
            "Your ship?" John asked. The tone of voice was stern, but there was a smile on his face. "Since when did you own that ship? You could have lost it, you know."
            "So what?" Killjoy asked. "If I lost it, we'd be out the biggest piece of crap in the entire world. I'd be a lot more worried about what Jacobs would have done when he actually saw the ship. Two or three mil indeed!"
            "You sure played the situation well," Angie offered. Though the look on her face during the whole ordeal had been one of terror, she had regained her confident attitude. "You play poker a lot?"
            "Hardly at all, any more," Killjoy said. " The salary of a Space Corp Chief doesn't pay well enough for me to be able to afford it. Besides, don't have the time anymore."

Wednesday, August 07, 2013

Marsh Madness: Introduction

Marsh Madness is the second short story in my series that chronicles the adventures of some soldiers-for-hire who call themselves The Group. Part 1 of Marsh Madness will be posted on 13 August 2013 with new parts every two days or so.

As always, enjoy the story and if you have any comments, please share them in the section after the story. Also, if you like what you're reading, suggest my blog to others. Thanks!

-Peter Last

The Poker Table: Part Six

            "We have to do something," John said. His face showed no expression, but this was as worked up as Killjoy had ever seen him.
            "Do something about what?" Killjoy asked. What his friend was so worried about he couldn't tell.
            "Angie," John got out. "She's been bet on that stupid poker game. That thug just came and dragged her off."
            "She's a slave, Bulldog," Killjoy said. "There's not a lot that we can do."
            "Go buy her," John offered.
            Form Mr. Jacobs?" Killjoy asked with a humorless laugh. "Not a chance! That man has so much money you couldn't tempt him with the world. He'd refuse to sell just for the fun of it."
            "Then we kidnap her," John said. "She doesn't deserve this. She's no slave."
            "Don't be an idiot," Killjoy said. "There's no way that we could kidnap her. Jacobs has a dozen guards with him."
            "Then gamble him for her," John said, motioning to the duffle bag on Killjoy's shoulder.
            "That's money for the ship," Killjoy said. "We can't afford to lose it."
            "You said that you could win," John countered. Killjoy sighed.
            "Yes, I did say that."
            "Then win," John said. "You win, and we all walk away from here with the money that you've already won for the ship."
            "Fine," Killjoy said after several long moments, "but we're going to do this my way.

Monday, August 05, 2013

The Poker Table: Part Five

            "I don't have the money to stay in," Andrew said, looking at the empty table in front of him.
            "And you don't gamble more than you can afford," Killjoy said. "I suppose that means that you're going to have to fold."
            "Now hold on a second," Andrew said. "I can afford to lose a little bit more, yet. I have full stock back at the store. What about a shield generator? I've got the Mark VII in stock."
            "Mark VII?" Killjoy said with some surprise. "That's supposed to be the latest and greatest. How much do those things retail for?"
            "Around two hundred thousand," Andrew answered matter-of-factly.

Saturday, August 03, 2013

The Poker Table: Part Four

            Killjoy glanced at his cards and then at his watch. It was 12:30; most of the big rollers would have arrived by now. He had more than enough money now to get into one of their games, so this would be his last round at this table. It would be increasing his pool of cash a little more, he didn't even have to see Bulldog's signals to know that. Four of a kind will win just about any game of poker, particularly one of five card draw. He continued to pump money into the pot, walking the line between too much and too little. Too little and the game wouldn't hardly be worth playing; too much and he would scare off the other players. The bid was called and the cards were down. Killjoy raked in the pot and began to organize the coins and bills.

Thursday, August 01, 2013

The Poker Table: Part Three

            Midnight was approaching, and John's pocketbook had never looked better. Angie was a fantastic pool player and clearly not a new comer to the sport of gaming people out of their money. She threw the right shots, even the lower stakes games, to keep up the charade that she and John were just another couple looking to gamble a few dollars on a friendly game of pool. John appreciated the fact, knowing that he would have to fly below the radar to make the next part of Killjoy's plan to work. He didn't want to make a name for himself lest he be recognized, snooping around the poker tables later.