He moved slowly, so that Sam had time to dodge. But his fist connected with the balcony floor itself and smashed through, sending debris into the air and shaking the structure like an earthquake. He turned and went for Sam again, and Sam had to bound over the ledge to escape. The ledge crumbled before Seth, and then he was flying at Sam.
I aimed my gun at his back, sure I could hit him dead center. But at that moment the floor caved out from under me. I went down in a blizzard of stone and bits of wooden pews and dust and landed sharply on my legs, nearly splitting them. The pain caused the gun to fly from my hand, clattering away amid the rubble.
Meantime, they were going at each other, Seth throwing punches and Sam ducking out of the way, dancing across the floor of the church. Seth was slow, but Sam had to stay out of his range or get liquefied. Sam had the knife out, but couldn’t get to where he needed to be, which was within range of those fists.
Sam slid on a spare stone and faltered, and Seth grabbed the blade of the knife. It snapped off in his hand and he tossed it into the dark, blood trailing behind it. Sam drew his other hand from his coat, but Seth grabbed that too.
Sam screamed as his left hand was crushed, and along with it the watch. Seth let go and blood and gears spattered over the ground.
I searched frantically as Sam collapsed and crawled backwards away from Seth. Seth’s back was to me, and he didn’t know I had the bullet. It was a perfect opening, and I was missing it.
“This is a good look for you, Sam,” he growled, his voice a nighttime thunderstorm. “Broken and terrified instead of all high and mighty. Will I know what that’s like when I kill you?”
Damn it damn it damn it. Where was the gun?
A pungent odor hit my nostrils. The rotting of that poison – eiter? Or whatever. It was buried in the rubble somewhere. Did Seth really think we were planning something against him with that stuff?
“Sam!” I shouted. “The poison! I have it!”
Seth turned. I held my hand out in a fist as if holding something I could throw. Sam scrambled away from Seth’s reach.
“You think eitr will hurt me?” Seth roared, clearly angered by the insinuation.
“Come over here and we’ll find out,” I dared.
I could swear he turned darker, and that the air around him faded, that even the snow around him turned black. He stepped towards me and I was frozen, driven to deer-in-headlights mode by his aura of depthless rage. I couldn’t even look away, my eyes were so drawn to him. And I knew he could kill me, and I wouldn’t be able to do a thing about it. I realized then that I had screwed myself over with this taunt of pretend poison.
In my stupor I had forgotten about Sam, but Sam had been looking for the knifeblade. He didn’t find it, but he did find his spare arrow.
Seth screamed and the blackness around him roiled and I thought this was some precursor to coming at me full of death, but Sam’s voice sounded under it, tired and hurt and without force. Seth collapsed to the ground, and I saw the arrow in his back. Sam had driven it in with his right hand, like a spear.
He stared at the fresh corpse, breath puffing hard in the air. All of his body was sagging, his work finished, but without pride, without any sense of accomplishment. He fell to his knees and rested his good hand on Seth’s back.
I turned away. I still had yet to find my gun. And I didn’t want to see Sam like that, like he was feeling remorse, like he needed consoling. Like he was hurt beyond his physical pain. With the snow falling all about him through the holes of the church.
I noticed something crawling over the crumbled ruins at my feet, and I thought it must be a rat or roach disturbed by all the action. But it was a line of black shadow, trailing over the remains of the balcony that had been smashed. I looked further, tracing its line back to the entranceway, where it seemed to be seeping through the gaps in the doors.
I looked up to see what could be causing such a shadow, and there was nothing solid to cast it, but I saw something else.