Dresden: fighting the Malks

From a Dresden piece that I wrote recently. I’m not entirely happy with this section; it’s been re-written three times, and I’m still not sure I’ve caught the emotions that I want to…but I have to admit defeat at some point!

One of the Malks* makes the mistake of getting too close to me, and gets a foot in the ribs and then a gun-butt in the side of the head. A high-pitched yowl comes back to me as it retreats hastily, a livid wound marking the side of its face where the steel has burnt the fur away. I’m just turning to see where the other one is when my body meets the ground; something heavy lands on my back and claws dig into my shoulder and arm, pinning me down. I can’t help a sob at the pain, and the Malk’s breath is warm in my ear with something that’s almost a purr. “You struggle so delightfully, little Summer child…”

My gun’s flown out of reach; the claws dig in further and then I feel sharp teeth tighten slowly into the back of my neck…I’m sobbing into the snow, struggling helplessly against the weight pinning me into the cold ground. I’m going to die. I’m going to die here in the frozen wastelands and there’s nothing I can do-

-and then the weight’s gone. I gasp in pain as I roll, hearing a hiss and snarl as the second circling Malk lands where I just was, and a claw swipes at my head; it whistles through my hair as I roll again and then I’m up and running towards my guide – I can’t do much to help him and I can’t really defend myself, but he’s the one thing I’m sure of in this alien land, and he’s the only thing that can get me out.

“A chase, little human?” the Malk’s weird voice hisses from behind me. “What fun…”

The guide’s got two of the huge cats leaping for him, but he ducks one and stabs a hand upwards at the other, slicing along its side with a cut that makes the beast wail. A spray of blood marks the snow as it lands; the ground around him is a patchwork of red and white. A limp body is sprawled on the ground from the guide’s first attack on the beasts, and there’s a second cat limping a little way from the fight. The Malk that was on me is half-buried in a pile of snow, slammed off my back by what looks like a huge snowball. My guide looks like he’s winning.

I’ve almost reached him when something spins me and I tumble into the snow. The scarred cat pounces for me and receives a kick to the stomach that would make my teacher proud, but it twists in mid-air and lands easily. I slide on the ice as I try to come to my feet, and then the Malk’s full weight has landed on my chest; my body slams into the snow again and the world darkens for an instant as my head hits the ground.

Slices of pain bring me back; the Malk has sunk its claws into my shoulder and the renewed agony makes me choke back a scream. The burn from my gun is livid on its head, seeping ichor into the fur. I lash out but it seems to make almost no impression as my fist meets muscle; the huge animal delicately shifts a paw to trap my hand, and shining teeth bare as it lowers its face towards mine. I can smell the rankness of its breath, a stench of blood and rotting meat overlaid by the musk from its fur…I can’t move, and I freeze in panic as I hear the crunch of more footsteps in the snow-

“Silence,” a voice says quietly.


*As a friend of mine put it, “a furry killing machine with the staying power of a Terminator from Krypton.” Go for a very large bobcat with an additional dose of malice, intelligence and sheer bloodthirsty joy in killing things, and you’re pretty much there…they’re colloquially known as “furry bastards” to the RPG group, which gives you some idea of what we think of them.

Author: kate

Kate Coe is an editor, book reviewer and writer of fiction & fantasy. She writes the sparkpunk GreenSky series and blogs at writingandcoe.co.uk. When she's not working, she fills her spare time in between writing with web design, gaming, geeky cross-stitch and DIY (which may or may not involve destroying things). She also reads far fewer books that she would like to, but possibly more than she really has time for.