*I apologize if I'm posting too much today, but I'm trying to catch up on challenges and prompts on here and other writing communities. So anyway, here is yet another dialogue challenge that was presented to me over at wordpress. The task to complete was: Write a story or poem beginning with the line, "put down that book and fight me." Now this one was both unusual and tough and took me several days to get going, but I finally found a story in there. Hope you enjoy and don't mind me sharing. *
"Put down that book and fight me."
The old man in his easy chair didn't look up. "I admire your tenacity, but I truly must finish this chapter."
"To hell with your chapter. Stand up and defend yourself."
"Ones defense is not determined by some notion to get up from your reading chair. Now if you don't mind, I only have a few paragraphs left and you are interrupting my solitude."
"You can have solitude when you're dead," the young assassin exclaimed. To prove his point, he swished his sword back and forth as if he were cutting through the very air.
The old man ignored him and continued to read. So intent he was on the written word, his killer could have trashed every shelf in the library and he wouldn't have budged from the comfort of his chair. In this, the newly arrived Intruder would have to take more drastic measures with his intended target.
"I will give you to the count of five to put your book down and fight. After that, I will kill you where you sit."
Still, the old man read on, as if the assassin's voice was nothing but the whisp of a memory echoing in the room. He turned to the next page of his book, and continued to take in each word. A slight smile crossed his face in the same way we ourselves might exhibit when reading a particular clever passage in our favorite tome.
The killer, shuffled from one foot to another as he counted. "One..."
He waited a beat. "Two..."
The old man's eyes glued to the page, as he nodded in satisfaction.
The killer gripped the hilt of the sword tighter. "Three..."
He took one step forward. "Four..."
A breath. He raised his sword, preparing for the deadly swing.
Crack! An excruciating pain in his ankle. He staggered back on his other foot, looking down unbelieving at the damage. He hadn't even seen the old man move, and yet his his leg had shot out from him in deadly precision to strike the breaking point of the killer's ankle. The rest of him had not moved, and in fact still sat in the high backed leather chair engrossed in his book.
"Oh, you are so dead," the assassin snarled and charged forward, his sword swinging forward in an arc towards the chair. Before he reached it however, it was flipping backwards, the old man still in it, tumbling over twice until the avid reader was buried under it.
The sword had missed its mark and struck only fabric, enraging the killer. With his good foot, he tried to sweep the chair over on its side so he could see the old man, but the chair was too big and he staggered and swayed off balance. Regaining his footing, he thrust the point of the sword through the chair.
Thunk! The tip of the sword didn't meet flesh and bone, but the solid wood of the floor. The old man wasn't under the chair.
Looking up, he spied him right away. He was standing by the fireplace. In one hand he held a hot poker, just removed from the embers. In the other, the book he had refused to put down. He raised the volume to eye level and began to read again.
Angered to the point where the broken ankle no longer mattered, the assassin charged, the arc of his sword swishing back and forth in crisscross movements before him.
Holding the book out at arms length, the old man brought the poker to bear, gray ash flying off its tip. Sword met poker with a clang. The metal vibrated in their hands, but neither dropped their weapon. Instead, they parried back and forth, the old man taking the lead by driving the young killer back, while the would be assassin himself couldn't believe the elderly gentleman in coattails still had not put down the book, even while fighting.
This distraction was too much to bear, and the old man with one swift twist of the poker, disarmed his attacker. The sword flew across the room, too far away to be retrieved. With a roundhouse movement , he swept the legs out from under his younger opponent.
The youth landed on his back hard, the breath nearly knocked out of him. The hot poker was inches from his chest as the old man leaned over him. But the victor was not gloating, nor was he even paying attention. On the contrary, he was still reading.
He nodded his head, smiled, and put his heel upon the young man's chest to let him know he was not to get up. He snapped the book shut. He took a deep, satisfactory breath and tossed the poker away. Leaning down, he looked in the young man's nervous eyes.
"The true reader doesn't allow anyone to interrupt the tale," he said.
The fallen warrior shook his head. "I can't believe you beat me," he whined.
"I was finished with the chapter."
The old man reached down with his free hand and helped his student to his feet.