There came a pounding at the door and then the juddered sound of kicking and like a great suck of wind the door came off its hinges. The men darkened the house and the women were shrieking, the children burying their heads into the custody of their mothers, but Jim said not a word. The men grabbed him and dragged him threshing out of the house. Outside he was stood in front of the dark figure of Faller, whose face flared to light when Macken stepped with spitting torch towards him, holding in the other hand a shearing hook, denticles shining like razored teeth. Faller took the torch and shone it in Jim's face.
Show me the cunt, he said.
Jim squirmed but the grasp about him tightened and he glowered at Faller who flashed a smile in return. He leaned in towards the man.
No? We have here a man who doesn't want to talk.
He put a hand to Jim's collar and dragged him to the side of the house and threw him face down to the ground and he came behind him and drove a knee into his back.
From the house two men began to drag outside the women. Faller roared out to them. Put them back and shut the door.
He grabbed hold of Jim's arms till they were awkward behind him, forced each fighting hand open till the fingers were splayed. Fluidly he knotted with one hand the rope about each of the man's thumbs and then he wrenched his handiwork together. He stood up and yanked Jim to standing by his shirt. He walked him towards a tree and then he rubbed the dust off his shirt. Macken stood by his side and watched Faller throw the rope. It slithered and fell over the bough of a tree and he made it taut and he handed it to Macken who summoned another of his men. They took hold of the rope and he told them to pull. Jim's arms swung up behind him unnatural, a howl from his lips and the ligature tearing till the ground no longer met his toes.
Faller stood in front of him, then leaned in and spoke.
Where is the cunt?
Excerpted from Red Sky in Morning by Paul Lynch. Copyright © 2013 by Paul Lynch. Excerpted by permission of Little Brown & Company. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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No Man's Land
by Simon Tolkien
Inspired by the experiences of his grandfather, J. R. R. Tolkien, during World War I.
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