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Chasing Dreams: a novella


For your reading enjoyment, here is the opening scene from Chasing Dreams, a novella that tells of the journey of twin brothers as they progress from strong-armed thugs to highway bandits to bawdy house owners to politicians.  Along the way, they are harassed by vigilantes posing as heroes.

This novella is in Tales From Gundarland, a collection of six humorous short stories and two novellas






Zarro pulled down the black mask to cover the upper part of his face then peeked over the edge of the roof.  On the hanging platform below, a trembling dwarf stood over a trap door with a noose around his neck.  He had been caught stealing a loaf of bread to feed his starving wife and six dwarflings, a common event in the town of Mud Flats.  A large crowd had gathered to watch the entertainment and to enjoy the fine spring weather.

He took in the rest of the platform and gulped.  Three yuk guards!  He expected to face only one.  Two atTFG award coverthe most.  Ferocious fighters, the large, green-skinned yuks wouldn't take kindly to his interference and they were twice as tall and twice as wide as a dwarf like him.  All three wore the constabulary uniform: tan breeches and shirts open to their navels because their thick, clumsy fingers couldn't handle the buttons.

Zarro stood up, smoothed his black tunic and checked that his black pants were tucked into the top of his black boots.  Satisfied with his appearance, he uncoiled his bull whip and snapped it forward.  The end wrapped around the stout timber supporting the noose.  He put a death-grip on the handle, took a deep breath, leaped off the roof and flew towards the platform, his cape flapping behind him like a demented bat.

“It's Zarro!” a spectator yelled.

“Zarro has returned!” another screamed.

The whip unraveled and Zarro added to the chorus of screams before he crashed onto the platform and bumped the prisoner.  A gasping sound came from the dwarf as he dangled at the end of the noose and scrabbled to get his feet back on the platform.  Zarro dropped the whip, pulled out his cutlass and hacked through the rope.  The dwarf fell into the crowd.

“Wot's this then?” a dwarf in the front row said.  “No hangin'?”

“I been standin' inna hot sun for hours,” another said.  “I ain't gonna be cheated.”

The spectators threw the sobbing prisoner back onto the platform.

Two yuks charged Zarro from different angles.  He shifted his feet, got them tangled in the whip and fell on his face just as the yuks slashed with their swords.  Both constables stabbed each other in the leg.  Their swords clattered to the platform as Zarro scrambled to his feet and faced the last yuk.

"Zarro!" The crowd roared.

Zarro backed up.  His opponent growled in anger and strode forward, his cutlass raised over his head.  Zarro gulped.  His sword was less than half as long as the other's blade.

"A half-penny says Zarro loses his guts," a spectator yelled.

"Done," another replied.

Before the yuk could strike, Zarro's donkey, Belinda, trotted up the steps in the rear of the platform.  The wood planks shook and bounced as she ran over to the yuk and bit his shoulder.  The yuk howled and dropped his sword.  Zarro thanked the Fates that Belinda hated yuks even more than she hated him.  He looked around for the prisoner and saw him hurrying away surrounded by a bunch of dwarflings.  A female walked backwards holding a stout tree branch and threatened anyone who came close.

He fetched his whip and coiled it.  Then, with rapid slashes of his sword, incised the letter Z on the yuk's chest.  He crept close to Belinda from behind and leaped into the saddle.

“Zarro!” the crowd yelled over and over.

Belinda stood on her rear legs and shook herself.

“Stop trying to throw me, you stupid animal.”  Zarro barely held on.

The crowd cheered.

Zarro held the reins and squeezed his calves as tight as he could.  Belinda leaped into the air and bucked while trying to bite Zarro's foot.  He bashed the back of her head with the whip handle.

“Zarro!” the crowd roared.

Belinda jumped off the platform and ran towards the woods.  Zarro's cape billowing and snapping like a loose sail.

He managed to duck in time as Belinda ran under a low-hanging branch trying to scrape him out of the saddle.

“Zarro!” the crowd screamed.