Time: 10 minutes
Source photo: Lindisfarne Castle by Mark Mullen
I was running flat out, sprinting towards the castle, when the first projectile chattered off the stones to my right and careened another hundred yards, over a wilting split-rail fence into the field beyond. I flinched, jumping a bit to the left, as I ran -- as though to avoid the blow that had just missed me. I tried to run faster, breathe harder, push farther with each stride. Something brushed my shoulder, catching briefly in my tunic, tearing a hole, as it screamed past to chip shards from a cobblestone forty feet ahead. It pulled me off a fraction of a step and I caught my toe on an upturned ledge. Down I went, too fast for outstretched hands to slow my fall. Hip, elbow, shoulder, chin -- whack! -- flat into the ancient mosaic path. The sky went dark. I was awake, conscious, but lights sailed across my eyes and the horizon jittered. Another missile flew through the air above me -- where my body had just been. It was heavy and fast enough to have shattered my spine. It dislodged three paving stones, where it hit, leaving a head-sized crater. I pushed myself up and ran on. Another three hundred feet and I'd make the turn of the road, where it spiraled round behind the castle, where I'd be sheltered from the fusillade. If I could get there. Faster. I had to run faster. Brown, grey, moss-covered black, the smooth, hard faces rushed past below my feet, my bare, bloodied toes finding purchase in the cracks, clawing and grabbing, shoving with every muscle and sinew for more speed. Just a hundred feet to the shelter of the sod wall and my left arm exploded in pain. Sharp, ripping pain, at first, then a dull hammer-blow ache pounding through my shoulder and chest, rolling through my head and body, threatening to steal my consciousness. I reeled, nearly fell, staggered on. Something was wrong with my balance -- something out of sync. My right fist swung forward and back with every stride but my left flailed wildly by a hinge of soft tissue. The humerus was snapped above the elbow and blood flowed freely from where ragged ends of bone protruded. A spray of red painted the road with ever pendulous arc of the maimed appendage. I had to ignore it and run on. I was nearly to the curve. A dull thud to my left and a splash of mud and grass marked the site of another near miss. If I could make it another thirty feet without taking another hit, I'd be able to crawl the rest of the way. They were a mile away and moving slowly. Only their cannons and catapults could stop me. I panted hard, unable to take breaths big enough to compensate for the blood I'd lost. Just ten more steps. I stumbled, caught myself. Six more steps and I could rest, make tourniquet of my belt, limp the rest of the way to the gate. Four steps to go. Almost there. If I could close the gate behind me, activate the defense grid, signal for help. Two more steps. So close.
(about my timed writing exercises)
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