Kash started to take command of the duel, pushing Gerald’s saber closer and closer to his face, backing him up in the process. A sidelong glance, and Gerald had discovered the torch burning within his grasp. Kash saw it too, but too late.
The flame licked across Bennett’s shirt front, causing no real damage, but it was enough to distract Kash; throwing him off guard. Gerald threw the torch aside and delivered a boot kick to Kash’s chest; knocking the wind out of him and the saber out of his hand. Gerald followed with a vicious backhand to his face; putting Kash to the ground. A swift kick of Bennett’s saber and Gerald removed any doubt that the duel would continue.
Frantically Leslie dropped the scrolls and looked for something, anything to throw Kash for defense. Nothing.
While she searched, Gerald stalked his prey and moved in for the kill. “Have the board set up in your head, old man? Russia’s black rook to king one. Checkmate.” The black rook revealed and recited his chess move to Kash.
Not quite if Leslie had her way. A frustrated cry erupted from her throat as she rushed a surprised Gerald. He didn’t panic; his reflexes were far too quick and superior to her efforts and he shooed her away like an annoying fly. But it was enough for Kash to gather himself and his saber.
Leslie righted herself and charged again. Even with her stature, she was no match for Gerald’s strength and agility. He ceased her aggression with a rising backhanded blow to her chest and face, hurling her backwards toward the opening and a watery grave below.
Kash reached an instinctive hand of help to her, but couldn’t. Gerald was between them and a powerless scream flooded his ears as Leslie dropped over the edge and out of sight; her dark blue fedora tumbling after her.
Bennett’s nostrils flared as he gulped in air and a murderous rage grew in his eyes as he focused on the black rook before him. He raised his saber, beckoned his enemy to continue their efforts of combat. This time, it was a duel to the death. Gerald Bryant’s death.
A wedged hand between jagged teeth. That’s all that stood in the way of Leslie and her Maker. Her breath was coming in waves as she struggled to swing her lower and upper bodies together to build momentum to bring her other hand in contact with the crusty teeth. Rapid breathing was replaced by exasperated cries of failure and pain. Like the grappling hook of earlier, her fingers desperately searched for a strong hold, anything to grab onto. Finally she successfully dug in and held on.
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