ash, Book, complete, dust, dystopian, exert, fiction, flash, futuristic, nomadic, read, scifi, serial, series, short story, story, survival
The first draft of book 2 of my serial fiction project is complete. Yay! It clocks in at 20, 434 words. Just over my goal. I’m sure it will grow even bigger with the second draft. So, that’s 2 books down, 2 to go. Hooray! Skyland has been edited, and is ready for round two. I’m sending Windchasers to my Alpha reader for feedback. But I’m going to wait to do a global draft 2 until all four parts are done. For now, it’s time to start Submerbia. (I need to think up names for the actual book and series. Any suggestions are appreciated.)
For today, however, in excitement for finally being finished with it, I’m posting an exert from the first chapter. Let me know what you think! Sorry there is no separate FFF, I had a quick day, consisting of waking up way too late, taking a shower, riding the bus to work, working, and coming home. And now it’s almost 1am. But I hope you enjoy the exert and any feedback is appreciated. Keep in mind, it’s still first draft status. 🙂
The wind drove me forward, as it did all things. My people, the livestock, and the dust. Torrential force slapped at my backside as I made my way along. Hood over head, the thick sheep-hide cloak shielded my weather-thickened skin from the brunt of it. Still, as it pressed upon me, it was a constant reminder of the urgency of our migration.
A curtain of dust, taller than ten men standing on each other’s shoulders, lined the edges of the area through which the wind blew. The air current kept this pathway clear of the smothering debris filled atmosphere. It was only a matter of time before the dust would overtake this pass and swallow any living thing caught in it.
My people, several thousand in total, were making our seasonal trek from this wind channel to the next. Most people walked head down. Their bodies were exhausted from long days pushing carts and carrying the heavy bags that contained all of their worldly possessions. Short breaks were taken for meals and sleep, but nothing else. We had to press forward, or risk losing everything.
No one spoke in the tunnel. The wind drowned out all sound but the loudest screams. Better to save our energy for the trek then try to have a conversation. This added a layer of loneliness to the journey.
I raised my hands to the sky with my palms facing me. Hand over hand; I aligned my top finger with the sun. I repeated position until my fingers at last rested at the horizon. It was twelve fingers until the sun set.
I looked at the drained faces of those around me. I wondered if mine looked as tired. I had youth on my side. Twenty-one today. My body had reached full maturity, and at this moment, was the best it would ever be. Yet, I felt the pain of my family.
Every season it was the same. Pack it all up, migrate to the next channel, hope we read the stars correctly and make it on time, and settle in if we did. Path to path to path. Always staying on the path. At times I wondered if there was anything off of the path.
Peering around the horde of people in front of me, I could just make out the wall of dust that signaled the end of this channel, and the start of the adjacent current. Beyond that, above the thick particle barrier, a decaying rusted structure rose out of the dust.
I dreamed of exploring that tower. Of discovering its origin and how it could exist so tall. But I could never get that far. Even with gear, the dust would kill me in a matter of fingers. But that didn’t mean that I couldn’t explore at all.
I made my way towards the dust barrier. I slowed as I neared, trying to remain inconspicuous, letting others pass me by. When the crowd thinned, I turned my back to them. I reached beneath my cloak. Clipped inside was a mask. The front was made of a strange, bendable material. The part that went over the eyes was more rigid and see through. Attached to it was a small container of oxygen.
There were only a few such masks in existence. Refilling the tank was difficult and could only be done in the channel two seasons from here. My tank was already nearing empty. Exploration was discouraged. The masks were used for rescue and recovery. No one, not even my father, knew that I had this tank.
Head down, I slipped the mask under my hood and positioned it on my face. At first, I couldn’t breathe. Then I turned the valve on the bottle, and a slip of oxygen entered the mask. It tasted stale but satisfying. I pulled my handkerchief over the mask up to my nose. I peered behind me, just peeking past the edge of my hood. Everyone was ahead of me now.
Slowly, I stepped backwards and disappeared into the dust. The light was suppressed, but not completely dissolved. The pressure was different here. In the wind, there was the ever-present push. Behind the wall, where neither the wind nor dust traveled, my body felt it’s freest. Here, the dust pressed in at all angles. Not as hard as the wind, but present.
I walked in the direction of the migration. I kept the border of the wind tunnel in sight to avoid getting lost in the dust. I could only see a few feet in any direction, even when I looked up.
For me, the dust held such mysteries. On one venture into the barrier, I had found an ancient artifact. It was half buried beneath the ashen ground. It clanged against my feet as I walked over it. As I wiped away the ash, I found that it was in the shape of a dome. It was colored red, and the material was similar to that of the tank. I scooped more ash away, and discovered that the front of it was made of a transparent material. Like the mask, but harder and thicker. I couldn’t see much of the inside. An oval shaped black thing was stuck to the middle of the see-through surface, and a half circle was visible on the right side a bit further in. I wanted to tell father of it, but feared his response to me exploring the dust. On another occasion, I found bones.
I kicked at the ash on the ground, hoping something would be unearthed. A cloud kicked up into the dust. But it didn’t settle as I expected it to. Instead, it stayed in the air, and drifted to my left, towards the wind tunnel.
My gaze followed its trail. At the point that should have been the channel, I saw only dust. How could this happen? It was there just a second ago. It was then I realized that the pressure in the air had changed. It was pressing less, and there was a pull to the channel.
I stopped messing around, and sprinted towards the place where the wind channel should have been. A moment later, I saw it. I kept going until I was clear of the dust. Forgetting about the mask, I tried to catch my breath. After a few gulps, my lungs got nothing. The tank was empty. I pulled it from my face and clipped it back into my cloak.
I studied the barrier, wondering if I had lost focus and simply wandered too far in. As I watched it, it became clear that the cloud of dust losing its shape. It bowed inward. Particles of the deadly dust filth floated on the milder breeze. They danced, suspended in the air, only inches from my face.