He managed after a minute to get himself up on his hands and knees, and wiped his face free of the worst of it, then vomited again. This was when Abbot saw that he still had the pistol gripped in the other hand, and motioned to Joe to move down along their section of the bridge a little more – Joe saw the pistol too, and started to shuffle backwards, trying desperately to reach the rifle tied to his pack somehow with his hands still in cuffs.
He was too late. Both Abbot and Joe were still backing away from the captain when he raised the pistol and aimed it at them, but they were still close enough that the shot woud be fatal. Marck had to wipe the slime from his face again before he could see, and then he started pulling the trigger, again and again, and the dull clicking of the mechanism made them freeze with anticipation of the round finally firing at last — but it did not. The captain pulled the trigger perhaps twenty-five times before he let go a shrill scream of frustration that sounded almost like a tortured boy, the ultimate cathartic release of a vessel so full of hatred that it finally burst — when he had run out of air, he began slamming the pistol into the duckboards over and over, making a grunting sound with each blow, and when his arms would no longer move, he swayed back and forth on the wobbly duckboard sounding like he was having the dry heaves, rocking forward and backward, forward and backward like some sort of large insane child.
Abbot reached out his hands in placation. “Captain –”
“You did this! You made me fall! Into that horse!” The captain shouted, gesturing with the pistol still gripped in his brown, muck-caked hand at the horselegs, which had now fallen into the mud, having been pushed down by the captain’s frantic struggling. The horse’s body, however, had rolled over and parts of it had breached the surface of the mud now, pushed up by the remaining gases trapped in the neck and head. The head, Abbot had the werewithal to notice, was now clearly visible, and the open eyes seemed to be looking at him, still covered in the muck, but somehow still looking at him, as if in surprise.