Out Back – Short Story

I didn’t get much mail, making the white, crumbled envelope crammed under my heavy door more exciting. There were globs of orange the same shade as my hair all over the outside, with my name sprawled across in large calligraphy, Ava “Teamkill” Jackson. I hadn’t seen my full name in a while, and never with my street name. The whole invitation was a mockery of my past, and the terrible things I’d done to shed my birthname. Let alone all the friends, and allies I’d stabbed in the back to get the brand my title was. The invitation letter was specifically designed to irritate me, and to make me lose my hot head.

And it worked perfectly. I crumbled the fancy letter in my first with a smirk, and a bad idea firmly in mind. A blatant trap, but an intriguing one. A tea party hosted in the Outback of the Commonwealth of Australia. New South Wales was practically no-man’s land, between the slaughtering of aboriginal people, and rioting convicts losing patience with forced manual labor. The party was at least bandits, at most some shmuck with a personal vendetta. Either way, I could handle them. No doubt I’d have to pack some heat, probably some firecrackers, and maybe a smoke bomb? I thought I was better off preparing for the worst, and entirely capable of dealing with the rest.

The hard packed outback was brutally dry, spurts of cacti, and spiked bushes scattered across the desert. An entrance to a cave slowly slinking below sea level faced me, the only thing of interest in the empty plain. A cracked teacup was placed at the mouth of the cave, delicate baby blue designs contrasting with hot red sand.

I wanted to scoff. The trap was so blatant it hurt. But I couldn’t deny my curiosity, flared at the slight against my pride. My only question was how to spring this trap, preferably in a way that didn’t cost any limbs? Gun powder wasn’t exactly easy to come by, with Australia dependent on the monthly shipments regulated by the colonist, and smuggling contraband on ships full of soldiers wasn’t easy. I had a single flintlock pistol, and was considered luck to have one. Getting the gun had cost me the man I sailed over with, but considering the mangled body I left behind, I called myself lucky. If whoever planned this had firepower, it would a hand cannon, or something small without a doubt.

So, I stepped directly on the delicate glass, and cracked the teacup. I grinded my leather boot into the red sand, and walked into the cave with glass dusting my soles. Fuck a tea party, I remember thinking with a mean grin, light shows are better for the soul, anyways.

The cave narrowed into a cramped tunnel, slowing cooling as it dove under the earth. A few minutes later, and I was before a huge spider web. The web was intricately woven, with bundles of flies scattered like stars across it. The cave was dark and damp, but I didn’t see any Huntsman spiders claiming the web, and I was tired of pussyfooting around in a stupid cave. I took the Harpers ferry model 1805 into my dominant left hand, and half-cocked the flintlock. I dug inside black waist pouches for a lead ball wrapped in a small piece cloth, and a vial of gunpowder.

Not that it mattered. I stepped through the spiderweb seconds later with a fully cocked pistol held steady, but was met with tight resistance. The sickly thread wrapped around my face, but refused to break. The webs held me in place, becoming tighter as I struggled and twisted. I froze when a deep laugh inches from my face started, and a grizzled hand grabbed my left hand, swiftly disarming me.

“You don’t need that for tea, now do you?” he growled out. My adrenaline ran, but I had no where to go. Sweat poured down my back. Rough fingers grabbed my chin, twisting my face as the older man appraised his catch. “I have use for you,” he promised with a gleam in his eyes as they moved up and down my trapped form.

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