About The Grave Watchers
by Missouri Dalton
Death rides a pale horse, and she is a beauty. Since man first buried
his dead, she has watched over them. With her hand she raises those select
few, those disturbed and maimed, to new life. These risen souls are duty
bound to protect the souls still buried and resting. The souls restless and
Mara Ismine, author of Smoke, a Dark Masters Story, writes: This is a
fascinating story set in a complex paranormal world; an enjoyable, fast
paced adventure in the world of the Grave Watchers.
The stone beneath my feet seemed sturdy enough, despite the natural seeming formation of the bridge being no more than a meter wide. But there was a good kilometer between me and the other side, maybe more. It was hard to tell with the fog rising from the ice.
I was somewhere past the halfway mark when I heard a noise. A splash.
“Fuck,” Claude swore softly.
“What?” I turned.
“Rock…it fell into the water.”
Every one of us froze, eyes on the ripples spread out from the rock’s entry point. There didn’t seem to be any movement elsewhere.
“We should move.”
We started forward again, a bit faster than before, when the fin emerged from the still water, breaking a bit of ice floating there.
I can’t tell you who said it, but we all did. The fish was fast, and a still some distance from the bridge it rose out of the water, propelled by a tail I couldn’t see. Its head was long and pointed, like a pike’s but more so. With its jaws parted one could see the sharp needle-like teeth that would have been fully at home in the common pike’s mouth, though admittedly much larger.
Claude swore in Latin and I said something. I’m not sure what it was, but I said something. I assume it was probably similar to what Claude said without the references to the various body parts of Roman gods. The fish burst out of the water and into the air, catching Bones off guard and dragging him into the water on the other side of the bridge. The broad spiny tail was the last thing to enter the water, and I estimated quickly that the fish was a good twenty meters long.
“Bones!” I hurried to the side, looking for any sign of him. My heart pounded against my ribs and after a moment of indecision, I jumped in after him. I heard Claude call out something, but I didn’t have time.
The water was colder than the air, and the weight of the armor was dragging me down. I ripped at the stab vest and managed to wriggle loose of the chain mail before I could start swimming after the fish. I could still see its tail in the dark of the water.
I hadn’t learned to swim until after I died, but I was damn glad I had as I started towards the fish. It thrashed in the water, but I didn’t see any blood. I pulled the knife from my boot and made quick strokes to its flank. I’d fished as a boy, and no matter how big this fish was, it had to have the vulnerabilities of its kindred.
I thought I saw a flash of gold and black braid somewhere ahead, and then a bloom of blood started to expand through the water. I thrust the knife under one of the fish’s scales and it thrashed. It was just a pinprick, but I had to distract it from Bones. I swam closer to the throat and got a grip on a gill vent. I dropped the knife to pull my sword.
I could see its eyes from here and pushed myself off the fish to head towards the head where I could see Bones more clearly. He was bleeding from a wound in his leg, but I couldn’t tell how bad it was.
Dear God…please let this be the only fucking fish in this fucking ocean.
I’d go to Confession when this was all over.
I got close enough to the eye, and thrust the sharp point of the blade into the dark spot of the iris. The fish turned on me, and it was Claude that was now pulling Bones to safety. I felt teeth slice into my arm, and grabbed for the hilt of my sword, pulling it free by pushing my legs against the fish’s side.
One massive pectoral fin slammed me away from the main mass, knocking what breath I’d managed to suck in out in a burst of bubbles. I snapped my mouth shut as quickly as I could recover and kicked my feet to propel myself back towards the surface. Before I could break free, something pulled me down—the fish had caught my pant leg in its teeth.
It opened its mouth again to strike, and I struck out frantically as it sucked me into its maw. The blade sunk into the roof of the mouth and into the tiny brain. It thrashed in death throes and I felt a hand wrap around my arm and jerk me to safety. I was burning for air when we broke the surface, my lips and fingers felt numb. The shoreline of caves was closer than the lowest point of the bridge, and I could see Bones and Claude had already made their way there.
Henry and I followed, Claude pulling us onto the embankment. I went to Bones, Claude had already managed a field dressing out of his shirt and the blood seemed to be slowing.
“Thank God. I thought…I thought I’d lost you.”
Bones smiled. “I’m okay.”
“You are an idiot!” Claude shouted at me. “Why the hell did you jump in wearing your armor?”
Honestly, I hadn’t been thinking clearly at the time. “The fish had just eaten my friend. What did you think I was going to do?” And in retrospect, the armor and prevented me from breaking any ribs when it struck my torso.
“Not that.” He shook his head. “I’ll go fetch the stuff we left.” He stalked away to the bridge; I could just see a pile of discarded armor.
“There wasn’t time,” I explained to Henry. He didn’t look receptive either.
“I appreciate what you did,” Bones said. “But next time, take the armor off first.”
“Oh look, the fish is floating.” I pointed to the belly-up corpse. “I don’t suppose anyone is hungry?”
Even Bones rolled his eyes.
“I think my sword is still in that fish’s mouth.”