Monday, June 25, 2012

East

EastThe brothers crested the ridge, and for the fourth time that day their hearts sank. Lief, the taller and older of the two, picked up a rock. Hefting it a moment, he hurled it as far as he could while yelling a particularly foul profanity.

Skäll dropped his pack and sat on it. His breath staggered back to him as he squinted in frustration at the daunting horizon. "Like I said," he panted. "We'll never catch up."

Lief scanned the ground for another rock, hands on his hips and chest still heaving from the climb. Skäll was ready with a come-back to the inevitably positive and courageous comment.

But his brother merely raised the canteen, took a distracted swallow, and stared northward, into the wind. After a long while he shook his head. "Time for a change of plans."

Skäll sat up with eyes wide. "You're friggin kidding me, right? There's no way we can go back. If they--"

"Not back. East. We'll go to the river."

Skäll spat. "Assuming we can even find a damn river in all that. And these blades won't do us any good, remember?"

"We will. It's out there," Lief said, waving at the rocks and snow in a vague arc that covered a good third of the rough and tumble land to their right. 

Skäll said nothing. He was all out of ideas, and was too exhausted to argue anyway. Both he and Lief were restisting the urge to look behind them, he knew. If those... things were indeed following them, then which direction they headed wouldn't matter.

"We'll find it," Lief said.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Awake

AwakeCyrus could not get used to his right foot. There it was, perfect as a baby’s. Ten years ago in memory-time it had been smashed to a bruised and twisted pulp, later to be molded into the numb wedge of flesh and bone that had hobbled him for many months. He stared at the foot numbly, flexing its five toes, turning the ankle. First left, then right, like a piece of equipment.

A brand new appendage was not the only thing different. The ridged scar on the bridge of his nose was gone. He felt its absence with the back of his thumb, vaguely remembering when he was five years old and running with a plas cup sucked tight to his mouth and nose, tripping on blocks. Now there was nothing there but smooth, bronze skin. But he should be happy: a new body.

Distracted, Cyrus limped out of the washroom and down the corridor, favoring his left leg out of habit. He would have to wake the others. But not yet.

He needed some time to himself; time to soak in this reality. And as newly self-nominated "captain," time to plan for the inevitable mutiny.