GIVING THEM A HAND.
I gave them a hand. Or not exactly gave it to them. But they’ve got it. And they’re keeping it.
There were three of them – huge Rangat males – coming after me right out the blue. They ambushed me out by Calinger’s Feralair farm where I’d been repairing some machinery. I was keeping an eye out for them, because Charlie had been killed just down the track only a few wekkies ago. Very nasty way to go – ripped to shreds and eaten by Rangats.
Shoiks! I don’t know how I got away so fast. I’d left the buzzy-bike in gear with motor on idle, and it shot off within a half-second. That was a surprise, they usually stall or cough on a leaping start, especially at dawn on a planet as cold as Mimador III.
I absolutely hurtled round the Four-Cap and across Big Plat fields. It’s all of two mills from there to here, under the blue-tone lights, at that.
But I kept the speed on max, even on the turns, which is Big Risk Two, after Rangat Males at Big Risk One. Didn’t breathe all the way down, just going, ‘Come on come on come on,’ and geeing the buzzy with my knees and fists and backside. Nearly lost it to a side-skid round Ethan’s Bends, but I was staying just ahead of them – triple mass of slash talons and razine teeth in my wake.
Nearly there at the marshalling yard. Hurtling hard-over through the main gates into the open turning area.
The roll-up doors on the storage gate started lifting when I was fifty away, and these three Rangats were hardly a length behind me, doing eighty. I buttoned for the roller-door to start dropping again and figured I’d just about make it ahead of them. Not too soon or they’d get in there with me, and that’d be fatal for all of us. And not too late, or I’d be stuck out here with them. I wouldn’t stand a chance, not even against one.
So – down the door started coming. Fraction too fast, too early!
Racing straight at it. But. No. I had it about right – Yes yes yes!
Dropping the buzzy onto its side at full speed, I went skidding forward across the yard. I’d make it – scuffing and burning on the ’crete, but I’d make it.
I was half under the door, zapping through with not even a brad to spare.
Yoik! What?! My arm was stuck. I spun. Must have been a ground fixing bolt that caught my sleeve. My arm behind me. My hand was the other side of the roller-door as it crunched down the last fraction. Dead flat to the ground, and then slotting flush into the groove.
That brought me to a dead halt. It had me trapped by my skin, and probably sinew as well. Not bone – I’d felt all that shatter apart.
Yesss, the blood was pouring out, pumping away. I was in total shock. Couldn’t believe it. But I knew it had happened. Not a dream. It was true and happening. My hand was the other side; they’ll have ripped it to shreds by now.
Needed to get my arm free – get at the stump. Bind it up. Stop the bleeding. Get the Triple-X before the pain starts.
Dammit. I’m in deep-deep dung now. This’ll be my third body-part replacement. I’m only allowed three. Then I become the bank for the others.
When I was found guilty, I wondered why the sentence was so short.