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Where the Black Sheep Wrest - (Ch. 16) Part 2: Two-bit Bridle

by Wriskypump


I saw Vinny nearing the cluster, nearing our soldiers. One of the Uzi’s on the end was flirting with disaster, leaning partly off the side. If it fell, even assuming it didn’t start ripping off shots unmanned, the simple clatter would put the bird on red alert. Before that had a fatal chance to play out, Matt reached up and saved it in his own clutch. When he did, Vinny’s ginger shuffle step improved to a limp, and as he trudged by, he said loud and clear, “Here’s your water.”

Operation H-2-O was in full swing.

And I almost jumped out my skin as a husky voice next to me breathed, “The battle scars are as fresh as they ever were.”

Together we trotted up beside the antler-railing and peered down over the ledge, waiting, for it would not be but moments more until the battle horn would cry. I guess, what Gutterson was trying to say was that war tasted pithy no matter how the dice turned up, but more, that a bitter smell would reverberate in the nostrils of all those who get mixed up in a bloodbath. This birdbrain had chosen the path for us, and yup, it sure smelled fowl.

To me, this was strictly defense on our part. The goonie on the roof was the one who liked to polish its fingernails in birdbaths brimming with red—heck, I owned no feathernails to paint had I been into blood-bathing.

The Foul croaked, “I’ve been patiently enduring your insufferably meager questions, your crude etiquette, and your outright feebleness, so do tell, do you have any last requests?”

Perfect. The beast gets tired of putting up with us right before we thumb back the hammer. We had a go-to question for this exact case, but Vinny hadn’t yet had enough time to relay the message. He was to tell one of the three sitting together how it was all set up to go down, so they could pass on the word. I’d fed him brief lines and he was repeating them to the first person, and Matt, sitting alone, was to know last. So Matt became the stall guy. You can call him the fall guy if you want. He came up with a request off the top of his head. “Hey, what does that swirly thing on your head do? Is it like an energy synthesizer, or a transmitter of some kind?”

“I can tell from the tone of your voice that you’re not interested even a tidbit to know the answer to the question you just asked,” reproved the bird. “What are you masking?”

I blinked. That thing was perversely sharp.

Hurry it up, Vin, break the news, it’s catching on!!!

But I knew he could only go so fast.

“Okay, you want the honest bottom line?” It was Pheonix. Vin had gotten her first, and Matt was shaking in a stupor not knowing what else to say to keep the wild goose from appearing the docile pond goose that it was. “We’ve got to talking down here and we don’t believe you.”

The dino-bird all but gasped before it shrieked, “What are these misgivings? Do you find my words apocryphal?”

Matt came back in, “What does apocryphal mean?” I think it was just reflex to ask about a word he didn’t know.

The bird was slightly annoyed, probably thinking we should all be as word-wise as it. Whoop-dee-doo.

Dino-bird rephrased, “Do you not take me at my word?”

“Not at all,” Sister Crowley said calmly and stroked the Saiga 12. “And it’s not that we don’t doubt your capabilities, but like the story of the rogue merchant, only an honest fool would buy something and take it all the way home before testing it out. And there is one glaring thing you have not proved us.”

She was dragging it out, luring it on for those couple of critical seconds.

It was losing its composure a bit. “State your trouble.” There sounded a flurry of feathers. Impatience.

“Well, it’s just that,” she paused, “how can you assure us that our friend is truly well enough that he won’t be dead and gone by the time we reach him? Or that he isn't lying dead somewhere as we speak?”

This was the hinge on which the whole operation hung.

“And why,” it spat haughtily, “should I do that? In fact, why does it matter the least bit? You can never breach me. Your fellow is as good as dead.”

My throat slammed the door on my breath sharper than I would have liked, and I just about had a nervous breakdown because that meant one thing: our surprise was canceled. It obviously wanted to withhold that information, information that kept us moving to the beat down its intended warpath.

It doesn’t take much for any Joe to mark the predictable movements of the Rook. What I wanted was some Knight action—Straight to Queen Birdy’s nest. I didn’t want to horse around and allow the queen to get out of the place we had her boxed into, allow her nimble movements to trip our pieces over their own feet and get all tangled in a web of complication. She is as dexterous as a black widow. And we were bugs, not horses.

Out of nowhere my foot was on fire. Some size ten shoe had just decided to pulverize it. Don’t worry, this was all part of a scenario slipping into reality. You see, there were several reasons why the operation was codenamed H-2-O: It all just felt too grave not to slap a code name on, it is the chemical name for water, the crux of all life, and I had run up a few closely-related scenarios in attempts to predict how the monster might respond (generally) when it came to Dudleys condition, then adapt in accordance to the scenario that played out. So like a molecule it was compound (more complex than the atom) and a little bit of a mystery as to how the operation would come together.

Or the atoms could be incompatible and never bond—even have a catastrophic reaction. I'll leave the friction to your imagination.

Believe it or not, I had told Gutterson to do exactly what he did: lay the smack down on my foot if it looked like I might, and I quote myself, come out of my shoes if anything coming out of that goon's mouth is south of a positive identification of Dudley’s whereabouts. Because if Dudley was in a bad location our actions would end up very limited. Somehow, the Stomp Effect, an almost absurdly counteractive measure in that the new pain made me want to make more, even louder noises, reminded me by diverting my attention (to my poor toes) so I could reach back, catch, and mute my yelps as snappily as a frog mutes the buzzing of a fly’s wings.

“Then we don’t have a reason to fight you, do we?” Rocky had taken the reins now. Dallas was getting briefed.

“Why, there’s no escape whichever way your slender legs may lead you.”

“So then should I just tell you to your face to get some new acoustics and pop this candystand right now?” he was feeling up the long handle and snout of the mega-handgun, the 460xvr. An UZI sat idly by across his lap.

Not a good time to get cocky, Rocky! We don’t want to push it with our words, you cocky imbecile!

Well, I might’ve done the same thing on the fly, adrenaline pumping and all.

“How dare you make satire of me!” It stamped a behemoth foot with what had to be a fraction of the pounding it could’ve unleashed. So a space of about five cubic feet sank in, which reminded me much of curling my fingers around an aluminum can: effortless.

Then it gathered itself and got all puffed up again. “Oh-ho-oh," it clucked. "You are in such position to barter: over a barrel. You will find out shortly what sport of dealer you are dealing with. Are you coming out, or am I coming in?”

This underdeveloped scenario was not one I had foreseen. And now the bird was barking out straight up options, two more runaway scenarios: you move, or if you don’t you forfeit the chess match.

But before anything ugly had time to develop, Dallas wrested the divergent trails and twined them back into something more on target. “Wait a second Cheese Dust.” I guess he had given it an offbeat nickname during our leave. “That isn’t fair. You have to hand us the scoop.”

The word fair, I think, was the one that stuck in the winged creature’s craw. After all, it wanted to keep things fair. That was really its only obligation to itself: a sort of genteel fight.

“You had better have a relevant grievance because in the good chance you don’t, no being will ever locate One. Single. Remnant. Of your corpses."

Temperature dropped as if the president had used the term A-bomb like he wasn’t afraid to use it. Teeth chattered, knees knocked, jaws locked, lips parted to reveal black caverns, and a gut rumbled next to me. Nobody was quite sure what the tyrant was about to do—these days with so many countries capable of nuclear strikes, using an A-bomb was guaranteed to backfire. Even waving it around in the enemy's face didn't come free.

Dallas, the Mossberg leaned against the couch next to his shin, kicked his feet up on an ornamental table. “In a game of chess, if a player makes a move, and the opposing player isn’t looking, the one who made the move has to tell the other guy what he moved and where. See now, what you haven’t lawfully made known?”

Lawfully and opposing were about the most dynamic words that were ever going to be harbored behind those lips. That was the only thing I’d ever seen him do that merited any praise. It was cunning, and beyond all, smooth. I did reference chess when I was telling Vinny the summary of what to repeat, so I guess he'd kept something of the sort in there, the something that had given Dallas his idea.

It didn’t say anything for ten whole seconds. It was hard to say what it might’ve been thinking. Well, either it would barge in and make a mess of us, or it would comply. And a decade of seconds proclaimed that the thing believed his argument did indeed contain worthy substance.

When its voice came back, it was as if over a rickety loudspeaker. And Oh, baby, was the bird ever hot! “Oh, little law man, when this is beginning to be over, your tongue will be the first, delicate flesh of your body to be pruned back.” Dallas fidgeted some at that, then saddled up his two-handled Mossberg, and started to get his feet under him. Begrudgingly, the hellish bird proceeded to make public knowledge of a location it had so desperately desired to keep classified, muttering, “Speak, Manling.”

There was a horrid choking, closer to gagging, and I heard fragments of words so laden with handicaps that it caused all kinds of impediments, and there was nothing coherent about whatever Buck was trying to convey to us.

“If you must know,” prattled the bird, words raw with fury, frosting its humiliation. “I told him to keep quieter than a sleeping mouse if he wished not to witness the inaugural of a new slaughterhouse.”

But nobody was listening to Snagglebeak's unprompted backstory. It had already told us all we were straining to hear, all that we had been using tarry-tactics to get into position for. Our ears closed; our eyes opened. Snagglebeak’s turn was over. It had moved a trifle pawn, and unwittingly denuded its queen.


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Sun Dec 28, 2014 11:27 pm
pendr wrote a review...



Hey, Ho! What's up? I'm here on behalf of The Grinches/the Green Team :D I'm just here to warn you before I start reviewing that I have not read anything of your story before now, and I do lots of nit-picky, detail-oriented corrections. Let's get started, shall we?

"I saw Vinny nearing the cluster, nearing our soldiers. One of the Uzi’s on the end was flirting with disaster, leaning partly off the side." Leaning on the side of what exactly? (If it's explained in a previous chapter, then don't worry about it so much)

There are some things that are pretty confusing, but I know it would make sense if I were to read it all. Hey, who's to say I won't? XD

You have great punctuation skills, and a great, variety-filled vocabulary!

"I blinked. That thing was perversely sharp." What was sharp?

“Okay, you want the honest bottom line?” It was Pheonix. Vin had gotten her first, and Matt was shaking in a stupor not knowing what else to say to keep the wild goose from appearing the docile pond goose that it was." Maybe change 'from appearing the docile...' to 'from appearing like the docile.' It would make more sense, in my opinion.

“And it’s not that we don’t doubt your capabilities, but like the story of the rogue merchant, only an honest fool would buy something and take it all the way home before testing it out. And there is one glaring thing you have not proved us.” This is fine the way it is, but I think it would flow better for people if you just added the word 'to' after 'proved'

"It was losing its composure a bit. “State your trouble.” There sounded a flurry of feathers. Impatience." First, does 'It'/ the bird thing not have a name? I would suggest calling it more than just 'it.' Even 'the bird' or 'the creature escorting us' would be better than saying 'it' all the time. Also, who is it talking to when it says "State your trouble."? Maybe put a tinge more detail there.

"It obviously wanted to withhold that information, information that kept us moving to the beat down its intended warpath." the second part of this is worded in a way that I can't understand. Reword it, if possible, please. :)

"Out of nowhere my foot was on fire. Some size ten shoe had just decided to pulverize it." I wouldn't say that her foot was on fire because I thought that's what you meant, literally. Also, try to make it more transitional; it's very abrupt, and that's alright, but maybe try something along the lines of 'All of a sudden,' and don't forget the comma!

"You see, there were several reasons why the operation was codenamed H-2-O: It all just felt too grave not to slap a code name on," make the 'it' after H-2-O lowercase. Also, that whole paragraph is more so a run on sentence, so if you would be willing to shorten it or split it in half, I suggest you do.

Ok. So overall it's hard for me to understand what you're saying or what you mean because you try to apply so much detail that it's almost too much. You do have great ideas and ways of expressing them, but so often you use a bunch of detail, which makes you have really long and on-going sentences. Along with that comes some confusion. It's fine, really, and some people like that kind of detail, but it can also easily throw people out of the loop.

I do wish for you to keep writing, and this story is very intriguing and different than anything I have read, as far as I can tell. You still have great voice and content, and I'd love to see more of your writing, but always remember that there is such thing as using too much detail :) Happy Holidays!




Wriskypump says...


Thank you! Will try to work on clarity, and chop up real long sentences. :)



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Sun Dec 28, 2014 10:29 pm
Pretzelstick wrote a review...



1.I see two mistakes in one sentence that I will point out:
". The goonie on the roof was the one who liked to polish its fingernails in birdbaths brimming with red—heck, I owned no feathernails to paint." First of all you need to add a s to goonies or use goony. Also feather nails are two separate words.
2.Another word must be separated in this sentence:
"face to get some new acoustics and pop this candystand right now?” Candy stand must be two words.Please fix that.
3.Please make sure that you don't capitalize unnecessarily:
"no being will ever locate One." Please lowercase to one and make it grammatically correct.
4.The word manling used in “Speak, Manling.” is not a real word. Please either use mantling or manning. I stress this to everyone that you actually have to use real English words.Do not make them up or they will look very unprofessional.
5.Your plot line is developing very nicely.
6.I don't particularly like your last sentence or ending.It could be way more interesting.Please work on it,edit it,change it do whatever to make me want to read more because at this moment I really don't want to read the rest of the story.There is no longing like that and it is up to you as the author to wake that hunger up in me.
7.I have reviewed a lot of good stories and the best endings are those who make me want to read more and completely finish the story.
8.Well I have to say compared to other stories you didn't have a lot of grammar issues. I always advise all writers to check and double-check and edit before you submit so we reviewers can focus on the content more than the English.
9.Anyway,I hope my review will help and as always I encourage you to write,review, and keep on submitting your stories.Good luck!




Wriskypump says...


Thank you! :D

Tho, what is a mantling and a manning? I know Manling isn't exactly a word, but what else can I say, man creature, man... thing? human filth? I feel human filth is over the top, xD

What if I just left it at, "But nobody was listening to Snagglebeak's unprompted backstory." and do away with the rest of the paragraph, will that be any better?



pretzelsnow says...


Yes,just leave it at would you said above: "But nobody was listening to Snagglebeak's unprompted backstory." (but just saying back story is two separate words so please disconnect them).You are very welcome and Happy Holidays!




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