*random number generator*
KM WALTON, you have won! Yay, KM!
In honor of me getting back into my Stream Pirate-y mood (and in honor of the giggle-worthy titles ya'll came up with), I have decided to post a snippet. And though I was CERTAIN I had posted snippets of Stream Pirate recently, the only ones I could find were from January. Blasphemous. I must rectify this problem at once.
It is SO HARD for me to choose a snippet. A short one, a long one, a romantic one, an action-packed one, CHOICESCHOICECHOICES. Argh. The scene I finally settled on happens fairly early in the book. Alluvial, after employing the stream pirate Yazoo Oxbow to help find her father, was put to work on his steamboat shoveling coal. She runs up on deck when the boat gets attacked by-- well, you'll see.
The river water was green. A murky green, as though Backswamp’s moss and slime sullied these waters. That should have been enough to convince me that I did not want to fall overboard, but something held me there, clinging to the railing with my nose nearly touching the surface.
A face. Green as a strand of seaweed, with eyes so yellow they had to belong to someone who was ill. Strands of sea grass floated around its head – though, as it bobbed up and down, it became clearer that the strands were hair. It smiled, revealing surprisingly white fangs behind scaly lips. Its back and arms, more of the green skin covering bundles of muscle, pulled back, a defensive pose. Somewhere far beneath it the tip of a tail twitched, and it shot toward me.
The great slimy body flew up out of the water, its crocodile tail propelling it up and up. Water droplets leapt off its skin, soaking my hair and clothes, throwing mossy water across the deck. Arms outstretched for me, its smile never wavered, its yellow eyes never left mine.
I screamed. An arm closed around my shoulders, keeping me pinned to his chest. The world around me, the distant tree-lined shore, the brilliant blue sky, all whirled and shifted as I was dragged through the air. My feet slipped on the moss-coated deck and I locked my arms around Yazoo’s neck, hanging onto him, my eyes still on the crocperson.
Its arms still reached for me. The yellow eyes hadn’t left mine before Yazoo’s pistol pointed at its chest. One tug of his finger, and he sent a wad of lead into the crocperson’s heart. The yellow eyes snapped shut as the force of the shot shoved it backward, back into the river, back down into the murky depths it had brought with it. Its body sunk below the surface but left in its wake a slowly-growing splotch of black-green blood.
“They’re leaving!” Perry screamed, but I couldn’t look away from the water. I couldn’t look at the water. I closed my eyes and pushed my face into Yazoo’s shirt, the after-effect of fear making my body quiver in his arm.
When I had composed myself enough to breathe, I looked up at him. There was nothing annoying about him now, nothing frustrating or mysterious. His good eye was narrow, the gleam in it dim and soft. Shoving his gun into his belt, he unwound his arm from my shoulders.
“You stink,” he said and turned for the pilothouse.
Arachne took that as her cue to take my arm and steer me toward the stairs. I was still barely aware of my surroundings enough to maneuver across the slime-covered deck.
“What was that all about?” I asked her.
“You do stink,” she said. “Quite a bit, actually. Working in the boiler room can do that.”
“No,” I shook my head, “why didn’t we outrun the crocpeople? Ron and I could’ve shoveled faster–”
Arachne led me into a small bedroom, complete with a short wash bucket, a bed, towels, and my satchel, looking entirely un-messed-with. “There’s no changing Yazoo’s mind. He’s always been infested with a desire to rid Radial Stream of crocpeople. Could be the richest stream pirate, but instead just devotes his time to blocking rivers that lead from Backswamp. Strangest man I’ve ever met,” she said and slapped a bar of soap into my hand. “There’s a freshwater pump in the next room. Please do us a favor and make good use of it.” She left, waving her hand before her nose to reinstate the fact that my time with Ron had left me rather pungent.
I fingered the soap bar. It was an acceptable answer; Yazoo wanted credit for ridding Radial Stream of the nuisance that was crocpeople. I would have accepted it, had I not seen the look Yazoo had given me.
My father had given me that look after he had finally let me in to see my mother’s body. When I had stepped up next to her bed, seen her pale face, her still chest, I’d dropped to the floor and screamed. Tom had cradled me in his arms but didn’t speak, didn’t cry, didn’t do anything but give me that look. The look that said “It was my fault you screamed. If it’s in my power at all, you’ll never scream like that again.”