The Favoured Lands - Death Peddlers 2
Soldier took one last deep and free breath, then slipped his respirator mask over his head. The musty taste of constant dampness settled in on the back of his tongue and mingled with the tasty cooked grease from his dinner. He savored it for a few seconds before swallowing and taking a long hard pull through the respirator testing the air flow as it passed through the filters. He hated having to make such an exertion for each breath, Of all the climbing, and chasing, and sheer exertion he and Koran had to put out to live each day, breathing was the most exhausting, But, breathing the tainted air in the outside for any amount of time meant and early suffocating death. He sucked hard drawing his diaphragm in then released and took a deep pull trying to let his breath flow as naturally as possible, even if the taste of the air was filled with the chemical plastic smell of the mask.
He stepped away from the building where Koran lay sleeping. The wood was old and slowly rotting. Fifteen meters on the other side of the knoll, and near the top of the next hill top there was an Aspen tree with a perfect view of the building. To Soldier's amazement, it even had a few leaves. He walked over and climbed into the lower branches to settle in for his watch.
Morning found the men making fast tracks in the dull grey twilight that comes slightly before the twilight preceding the sun's rise.. They traveled a good distance before taking a reprieve. Just as the fuzzy lighted glow of the sun that beat heavily down through the constant low cloud cover was at it's highest point directly above them.
There was no tree cover, only brambles, muddy patches and brush so they used the two large wooden sticks that each carried across their backs to erect a lean too which provided both shelter from the heat of the sun and escape from the constant drizzle.
There would be few dry patches between here and the Omeless city domes where the two men lived between out-of-dome excursions. They would keep to the edges of The Great Shallows and a if they continued at their current pace they would sleep in the relative comfort of a cache and hidden refuge they had left behind on the way up into the northern passes.
After the afternoon's rest, the water grew gradually deeper and deeper until it seemed that an endless shallow ocean had swallowed the land. Koran trudged out in front, keeping a keen eye out for eels and using his wooden stick to strike them when they came too near. Some scurried off. Most lay stunned for a few moments while the men passed. One, particularly tenacious creature refused to stay still after several blows to it's head.
Every time Koran struck it, it would quickly slither away and return a few moments later from another direction until finally, Finally, Koran skewered the creature at the base of it's skull, then dragged it up and out of the water.
Soldier smiled, "dinner!"
Koran laughed and slung the eel over his shoulders to keep it away from the other hungry creatures in the knee deep water.
Just as the sun, an obscure ball of light through the cloud cover began to reach the western horizon the depth of the had receded to no deeper than their ankles.
Leave a Reply.
BA Hubert lives in Vancouver British Columbia, a long time writer wanna be with the metal boxes of unfinished manuscripts and the rejection letters to prove it.