Enjoy an excerpt from Steve Schach’s Old Bach Is Come, now available on Amazon.
Just over an hour later, a sharp pain in his ribs woke Paul from a dreamless sleep. The first thing he saw was the flared muzzle of a blunderbuss firmly pressed into his chest, directly opposite his heart. Next, he saw the flintlock mounted near the beginning of the weapon’s barrel. Behind the flintlock, he could see a grizzled head surrounded by filthy locks of unkempt gray hair. Two rheumy eyes—one crusted with what seemed like dried pus—glared hard at him.
“What are you doing in my hut?”
Paul was terrified that the combination of anger and fright might cause the poacher to accidentally fire his blunderbuss.
“Answer me! What are you doing here? How did you get inside? I locked the door.”
A successful poacher has an excellent sense of hearing, so naturally the man spun round when he heard Franz tiptoe into the hut behind him. He swung the blunderbuss back and forth in a 180-degree arc, alternately pointing it at each of the Austrian secret agents.
“We mean you no harm,” Franz said. “We’re traveling from Brandenburg to Berlin. As you can see, we’re unarmed. We found ourselves in the forest and needed somewhere to take shelter for the night.”
The poacher clearly was not satisfied by this answer. “How did you get in?” He continued to move his weapon from side to side in an attempt to cover both the Austrian secret agents.
“Are you sure you locked it?” Paul asked, raising his hands. “We found the door open when we came here.”
“You lie!” screamed the poacher. He pointed the blunderbuss directly at Paul. Franz saw the opportunity and drew the stiletto from his pocket. He flung it into the poacher’s back. The grizzled man dropped his weapon, which fell to the floor and went off. The familiar—and stunningly loud—report of the shotgun masked the poacher’s death rattle.