Snake Dance

The alley was a dead end. The gorgon was trapped. She turned slowly to await her pursuers, who obliged by blocking her only means of escape, at the other end of the brick impasse.

Tristan assessed the assembled fiends cautiously. There were 12 of the uniformed goons, each uglier than the last and all leveling AK-47s in her direction. Not great odds. The Legion commander stepped forward, grinning evilly.

“Check and mate, my dear,” Arioch hissed. “There will be no more of your fancy moves. Only death.”

Tristan smiled back, her snakes writhing with agitation. “Games not over yet, you two-bit goblin.”

Without waiting to see the snarl grow on Arioch’s ugly face, Tristan bowed deeply from the waist, leather creaking as she presented the crown of her head, and the cluster of snakes thereon, to the demonic death squad.

“Kill her!” Arioch barked, stepping back behind the assassins. The guns began barking in response.

Moving with supernatural speed, Tristan’s snakes zeroed in on the bullets streaking toward them and snatched them out of the air, appearing to swallow the lead nuggets and go on alert once more for another snatch grab. The gunmen continued firing until only the clicks of spent cartridges could be heard. Smoke filled the alley, slowly dissipating to reveal a solitary figure, standing tall.

As the smoke cleared Tristan glared meaningfully at Arioch. “My turn.”

Arioch blanched. Eyes widening, the fiends began to back up. Without so much as a twitch, Tristan relinquished control to her snakes. In a concentrated effort bordering on precision, they spat the bullets rapidly, and silently, back at the would-be assassins. The hellions danced and dropped like rag dolls in a hurricane.

Tristan smiled, running her hands lovingly through her tresses – much to their delight – and walked slowly toward the bloodbath at the end of the alley. She looked down into the shocked dead face of the Legion commander, making note of the single bullet that had pierced its scabrous forehead.

“Correction. That’s checkmate. My dear.”

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What the hell did I just read? Good question. Allow me to elucidate. Years ago, I began working on a series of speculative short stories set in an alternate universe, in which the world we know had collided with the world of myth and magic. It’s not a new concept, certainly, but it was my spin on the genre and I called it Otherwhen. Some of these stories have been published, but many have only been shared with friends.

The main character of these stories was a gorgon demon hunter named Tristin Desmond, a merciless warrior with deceptively feminine wiles. Alas, Tristan has become something of an anachronism in the current climate of gender fluidity and identity. A throwback to the ass-kicking female combatants made popular in the James Bond and Avengers series, along with other male-dominated offerings of their ilk. The ultimate goal was, and still is, to gather her adventures together into a book. When the time is right, of course.

Maybe some day the pendulum will swing back around and ultra-sensitive activists will realize that there is no harm in depicting sexy, bad-ass women who don’t take shit from anybody in a heroic way. Or so I hope. In any event, what you just read above is one of the excerpts that didn’t quite make the cut, because I had other plans for Arioch and his death squad. Just one of the many tricks our heroine has up her leather-clad sleeve. With luck, one day you will see the rest.

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