Disclaimer: Happy and neat, all rolled into one, the only character so far that belongs to me is Sarah, the rest are someone else's. Women love women here, and there's some violence.
For comments, put downs and suggestions I can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. I love feedback.
The Past Tense of Love
Without thinking, Sarah was up and on her feet, charging the steed that raced toward them. In three long strides and with a courage she didn't know she had, Sarah leapt at the side of the horse, grabbing hold of the woolen tunic the ruffian wore and latching on with all her strength. Gravity and surprise took over causing the man to lose his balance, and with a yelp he tumbled to the ground, landing on top of Sarah.
An angry growl erupted from his chest and he doubled his fist, slamming it hard against the side of her head. Blackness threatened to overwhelm her, but some basic instinct took over and she punched him in the throat. With a strangled choke he rolled off of her, both hands clutching at his windpipe.
Scrabbling to her knees, Sarah laced her fingers together and brought her fists down on his stomach. After getting to her feet she kicked him in the ribs as an afterthought and turned to look for the girl she'd been spying upon.
The young woman lay in a heap several feet away. Sarah rushed to her side, smoothing blood-tinged strawberry hair out of her face. She was breathing but certainly unconscious. Judging by the strangely shaped bruise already forming on her right shoulder, Sarah assumed, the horse must have trampled her in its fright at the rider being pulled from its back. She glanced at the man she'd just finished attacking, comforted that he still wasn't moving.
"Just what the hell is going on here?" she wondered silently, glancing at the battle that was taking place a short distance from her. Who were these beastly looking men and why were they charging about on their horses attacking people with their swords? Swords, of all things! And who were these women, and how the hell did the dark headed one just do a back flip over the heads of the two men who'd tried to sneak up on her as she was fighting another?
Seeing how uneven the odds were, Sarah went back to the man on the ground and searched him for a weapon. Finding a very sharp looking sword, she went to his horse, which had stopped a short distance away. Mounting it, she said a silent prayer to her grandfather for teaching her how to ride as a child, and spurred the horse on toward the melee in front of her. She had no idea how to wield a sword but she'd be damned if those men were going to pick on a single woman who, by the way, appeared to be holding her own quite well.
Riding into the battle, Sarah was more than a little dismayed as three of the men noticed her and started in her direction, calling to each other in a language she'd never heard before. As they bore down on her, she didn't need to know their language to understand what they meant to do to her.
Doubt overtook her as she stole a look at the weapon she held in her hand. What on earth had she been thinking to ride out into the middle of this mess and try to be some kind of hero? She didn't know how to use this thing and she'd be damned if she was going to lose an arm trying to figure it out.
Another glance at the men in front of her told her that her fear was evident to them. Deciding to use the element of surprise, she let out a yell and hurled the sword at the nearest man and kicked her horse into action, charging the man as he knocked the sword out of the air.
Taking her right foot out of the stirrup she let loose with a kick that sent the man to the ground with a loud crack, his neck breaking from the impact. She reined the horse around and cringed, reality setting in that she had just killed a man.
Seeing her pause, the other two came at her from opposite sides. Knowing she only had enough time to get one of them, Sarah lunged from the top of her horse at the man on her left and felt a sudden gush of blood as his blade sliced into her right arm as they toppled to the ground. She used her left arm to pummel him with blows to the neck and head.
He released his sword to try and defend himself. Seeing this, Sarah reached for it with her injured arm and felt her body being lifted into the air. She landed with a thud that knocked the wind out of her, leaving her to only look on in horror as the other assailant raised his sword to finish her off.
As if someone had pushed a pause button he stood still, arm raised, as a stain spread quickly across his chest. Falling forward, he revealed who had pushed the pause button- it was the dark headed woman.
"You better learn to watch your back," she stated matter-of-factly.
Momentarily angered at the audacity of this woman after she'd tried to help her, Sarah kept her mouth closed. She was distracted however, by a man rising slowly to his feet behind the towering woman, a dagger ready to make its way into her back.
"Behind you!" Sarah blurted out, and was amazed at the speed with which the woman spun around and in a single fluid motion, disemboweled him. She returned her steely gaze to Sarah, who was wide-eyed with horror.
"You- you killed him!" Sarah finally managed to say, then covered her mouth as bile rose up in the back of her throat.
"What do you think he was going to do to me?" the deep voice asked her in amusement.
Sarah turned her head, surveying the scene around her. The once tranquil desert was now littered with the bodies of the dead. Riderless horses wandered about, foraging for a bite to eat, oblivious to what the scene around them meant.
To Sarah it meant that the impossibly tall warrior woman who stood regarding her warily was no one to mess with. She'd seen the ease with which she killed and how unaffected she seemed by it. It made the hair on the back of her neck stand on end, and reminded her of the feeling she'd had earlier that something was going to happen.
"something did happen," she reminded herself. Something horrible and somehow she knew her whole life would be changed because of it.
The electricity she'd felt earlier returned, and Sarah thought the horizon seemed to blur and waver. The sky seemed to melt into the earth and a sudden gust of wind blew particles of dirt into her eyes. The force of the wind increased until it was a deafening roar and she thought she heard a clap of thunder.
She covered her head with her arms and trembled. She knew storms could come on suddenly in the desert, had even seen it happen, but nothing like this. This felt like the end of the world, like the very fabric of existence was tearing apart. She fell over and it felt as though it took her an eternity to hit the ground.
Then, as suddenly as it had come, the wind was gone. In the ensuing silence Sarah thought that she had gone deaf. Raising her head from the ground, she looked cautiously about. The bodies of the men were still covering the ground. The horses were still wandering around. The earth and sky were in place. She still felt the emptiness in her heart that Melissa had once filled. Tears came to her eyes at that and she took a deep breath to try and calm herself.
"Get a grip!" she chastised herself. "This isn't the time."
Releasing the breath she looked up at the leather clad warrior, whose blank expression made her think maybe she'd lost her mind.
"Didn't you feel that?" Sarah asked timidly.
"What was it?" she barked, grabbing Sarah and dragging her roughly to her feet.
"I- I don't know!" she stammered. "You were here too, you saw what happened didn't you?"
"Where did you come from?" the warrior demanded.
"Where did you come from?"
Sarah's head jerked back as the woman grabbed her by her shirt and lifted her off of her feet so that she was an uncomfortable mere inches from her face.
"I asked you a question," she growled.
Sarah swallowed hard, thinking of all the dead men, then answered.
"I was already here. I saw you and your friend coming and hid, then I saw the others-"
"Did you see where my friend went?" she interrupted.
"She was over there." Sarah raised her hurt arm and pointed to where she'd been hidden. "One of your "friends" came along and she got knocked out-"
"What do you mean "knocked out"?" The warriors narrowed blue eyes had suddenly seemed to lose all their color, frightening Sarah even more.
"Sh- she was in th- the w-way-"
"STOP SPLUTTERING AND SPIT IT OUT!"
The angered woman shook Sarah's body with each syllable until she thought her brains must have been knocked loose. The sudden headache it caused sent her into a fury and she screamed back, "If you'd put me down and stop interrupting me I"d be able to tell you what you want to know! And stop shaking me! It makes it hard to think!"
The warrior's mouth dropped open and her eyes widened in shock. Sarah assumed by the look that people didn't talk to her that way and live to tell about it. Figuring her body would be joining the others in a lifeless heap on the ground, she closed her eyes and thought of Melissa.
She opened her eyes in surprise as she felt herself being gently placed back on the ground. The warrior's face had regained its steely composure and amusement curved the corners of her mouth.
"Look, I'll just show you where she is and be on my way. I don't know who you people are but from what I've seen I don't want to know more. You don't play very nice."
Sarah marched off in the direction she'd last seen the blonde and wasn't surprised that in a few strides the woman had caught up with her. She cast a sidelong glance at her and noted that for the first time her face wasn't so menacingly chiseled. In fact she looked almost distraught.
Catching Sarah looking at her, the warrior's face went back to what Sarah could only describe as warrior mode.
"What?" she spat.
"Jesus, lady! Don't bite my head off! She's your friend, it's ok to be worried."
A grunt was her answer.
"And such a conversationalist as well."
They continued on in silence, Sarah's mind torturing her. She missed her friend. She missed the way her eyes sparkled when she was excited about something. She missed how all she had to do was smile and all the worries in the world couldn"t keep Sarah's heart from soaring.
She sighed, unaware of the warrior who was now watching her. She'd have gladly given her life for that of the one she lost. Her soul mate was gone and now there just wasn't any point to life.
"You look like you just lost your best friend," came a gentle voice beside her.
A tear burned its way down her cheek and she walked as fast as she could. She didn't want to share her pain with anyone. She didn't want to let go of any of it, fearing it might cause her feelings for Melissa to fade.
She was so enrapt in her emotions as she led the warrior through the sagebrush that she didn't see the blonde coming and almost knocked her down as they collided.
The young woman grabbed Sarah's arm to steady herself and quickly let go at the yelp that escaped her lips.
"You're hurt," she said gently, her eyes following the tickle of blood that made its way out from under her sleeve.
The blonde's slight form was swallowed in a bear hug from the warrior. Sarah looked on, sure now that what she'd seen on the warrior's face was just this side of panic.
She smiled softly at the sight, then turned and made her way back out of the sage to the open desert. She'd take one of the horses and go back to her car, then leave this nightmare behind. There was nothing she'd like better than to go have a beer. And Tequila. That was definitely in order after what she'd seen here.
Sarah rode east, sure that eventually she'd run into a crossroad or some other identifying marker so she could get her bearings back. If the truth were to be known, she didn't care where she went as long as that cranky warrior woman wasn't there. And those dead men. One of them dead by her own hand ... Or foot. Either way she'd still killed him.
Sarah leaned to the side of the horse as she felt her stomach clench. The force of her retching caused her to lose her balance and she fell off the horse head first, knocking herself unconscious.