Saturday, February 23, 2013
Saturday's Chapter - The Harker Legacy by Teel James Glenn
The Harker Legacy by Teel James Glenn
from Anachron Press (available from Amazon.com)
One Family. One Legacy. One Problem.
Texan writer, Robert Howard, travels to London for inspiration for his stories when he finds himself in a street brawl. Aided by a struggling actor, Howard sees off the thugs and sets about returning the favor for his newly injured and incapacitated friend. Howard agrees to take over his role as a 'whipper-in' on an upcoming foxhunt hosted by the Harker family.
Howard meets the Harker's and learns about their travels in Hungary and Romania, before settling in England once more to closely guard a terrible secret.
Putting his considerable horse-riding skills on show, Howard catches the eye of Gwendolyn Harker, the daughter of Jonathan and Mina. Her parents regard Howard's intentions with suspicion, and their dark and deadly legacy is revealed before him, leaving him with a fight for his life.
Can Howard unravel the secret and save himself before it's too late?
Below is a excerpt from chapter two where the Texan, who has just arrived in London and had a drink at the ‘meets’ some of the locals...
Out of the Fog
The husky Texan walked slowly from The Hanged Man feeling the stronger English beer more than he thought he would. The night air was heavy with moisture though it was not actually raining.
Thick fog was rolling in off the river to the south and softened the edges of the brick buildings that were crowded one atop the other along the street. It had the effect of muffling the late night sounds of the bustling city but it was still more noise than the Texan was used to from his home.
The sleepy Texas town that he had grown up in was in the midst of a vast plain and though it had boom and bust times was never more than a spot on the map barely worth stopping in. No library, one school and about as isolated as one could get; yet his mother had instilled in him a love of literature and he had been able to escape it the dusty town through the pages of books.
Books that opened his eyes to the whole wide world beyond Texas and he had filled his writings with stories of far off kingdoms, by gone times, strange magicks and exotic locals.
When his mother had passed away the previous year he had confronted dark places in himself, even contemplated the ultimate surrender to despair but her life long belief in him and encouragement of the poet within him had helped him through the loss. He had taken what little financial inheritance she left him and in her memory become determined to see the world first hand.
Howard patted the typewriter that was his constant companion and smiled. “You left me a greater inheritance than money, mom,” he thought, “ you left me the ability to dream.”
Howard became aware of muffled footsteps on the wet cobblestones behind him. There was more than one set. And, most disturbingly, they were matching his speed and direction.
The Texan turned off Cable Street at the next corner and soon was in a warren like maze of tiny East End streets. Behind the footfalls behind him kept pace.
“Looks like I got me some suitors come-a-courtin’” the Texan thought as he glanced behind him. He pulled his typewriter to his chest and reached under his coat to finger the six-shooter he had in an inside pocket. “Well I got me some party favors for them if they want to have a hoedown!”
Just as he reached for the butt of the revolver an object came out of the murky mist ahead of him and slammed into the side of his head. The Texan dropped to his knees, the typewriter slipping from his grasp to clatter on the pavement.
A shape stepped from the fog to reveal itself as a man. The new arrival was holding the board he had hit the Texan with.
When Bob Howard tried to pull the gun out the figure swung the board again to smash into his side. The gun was knocked from his palsied fingers and skittered into the darkness.
Suddenly three more shapes came from behind the fallen man and they moved in to begin kicking him.
“Don’t let the blighter up,” one of the shapes called to the others, “He’s a brutish lookin’ fellow!”
As he gained his wits from the first blow to his head the Texan could do little while they put the boot to him but cover up. He brought his arms up to cover he head and tried to prevent them from striking him in the face or vital organs.
The heavy boots of the thugs slammed into him with practiced technique, laughing and joking at they worked.
This angered the Texan and he rolled violently to collide with the legs of one of the attackers. He latched on to the limb with both arms and brought the man down. The attacker slammed into the cobbles with a curse.
“Hell and brimstone!” the man screamed, “He’s got me, Marty!”
The other three men moved to continue the attack but the Texan clung tenaciously to the man he had grabbed and that thwarted some of the kicks.
“Get him off me!” the fallen man yelled, “You’re kicking me!” but the three standing men continued the assault unabated though the thrust of it was blunted.
“Hold him fast, Charley,’ one of the men called, “I’ll hit him again with the stick.”
“They’re gonna stomp my head lest I can get a breather,” the Texan thought but he didn’t dare slacken his grip to fight back.
Just then another figure came rocketing out of the roiling mist with a low war cry and slammed into the standing figures to carry two of them to the ground.
It was the break Howard needed and he squirmed free of the thug he had grabbed. The Texan rolled to his knees and threw a punch at the struggling Charley that connected with his jaw. The ruffian fell back semi conscious.
This allowed the Texan to make it to his feet and confront the last standing attacker.
The man Howard faced was as tall as he but built along rougher lines. He had a face that proclaimed his participation in many fights with a nose that was barely a lump of gristle and one eye whose lid drooped.
“All right, Yank,” the attacker growled, “time to take you to school.” The man exploded at the Texan then with a flurry of punches.
Howard was not, however, a mere armchair adventurer. He had boxed in many icehouse bouts and he accepted the charge with forearm blocks, moving smoothly backward to be clear of the fallen Charley.
The Texan let the English thug drive him back five steps until he knew he had room to move. Then, with a war cry that would do any Comanche proud, the Texan lowered his head, hunched his shoulders and counter punched.
Howard let all his Celtic blood boil to the surface and launched a series of trip-hammer combinations at the thug that the English ruffian could not block.
The thug was taken completely by surprise by the fury and the skill of the counter-attack and could not backpedal fast enough to avoid a hard right cross. The blow staggered him and Howard pressed.
The writer slammed a series of body shots into the mugger that elicited a sharp wheezing cough from the thug. The English rough had clearly never fought anyone on an even keel and his defense melted against the ferocious onslaught.
Howard stepped inside the man’s weak guard and sent one last one-two combination into the criminal. The thug dropped unconscious at the Texan’s feet just as the three figures rolling nearby on the ground broke apart.
Marty rose out of the mass of bodies. The two bodies left on the ground still locked in struggle were one of the thugs and William Pratt.
Marty looked around the then bent to grope for the board he had used as a cudgel.
Howard looked around for his six-shooter but when he saw the gang leader swing the board into Pratt’s back he knew he could not wait anymore.
The Texan charged across the space, spotting and picking up his typewriter on the run. When he got close enough he swung the hard leather case and smashed it into the side of Marty’s head. The thug dropped as if pole-axed.
Pratt was hurt but still held onto the cutpurse he was wrestling with.
Howard reached past his rescuer and bounced his knuckles off the criminal’s chin that took the last of the fight out of him.
As suddenly as the violence had begun all was quiet again.