The bus screeched to a halt in front of Hambre Town Hall. “End of the line, folks,” announced the driver, flinging open the entry door. Lucy uncoiled from her seat, groaned and stretched. Her back crackled and popped as she stood up, releasing the tension of 23 hours folded into four different bus seats. She shouldered her pack and trooped down the aisle, giving the driver a bleary nod before tripping down the steps.
The planet Antelos was lush, vibrant, and full of life. Its atmosphere was made of an earth-familiar mixture of gases, with one uniquely alien exception: halivium. Halivium was not toxic, not initially, and not for everyone. But in a certain percentage of the population containing a particular gene sequence, halivium could at some point in their lives become poisonous.
urple storm clouds and crackles of lightning swept over the moors. Bolts of white and violet snapped from the clouds like snake tongues melting the darkness. For a brief moment, the night became a curtain. It swept back to reveal a stage of backlit silhouettes. If there had been an audience they would have glimpsed gnarled shrubs, a ribbon of roadway, and a running figure.
“You’re fired,” said Jeremy. He shrugged and spread his hands in apology. “Sorry.”
ronica as she rushed by with a slice of carrot cake. “Beautiful day, isn’t it?” Zeke commented to the bar-stool population-at-large. He tamped grounds into the portafilter, locked it into place, and pulled a shot.
An old man glanced furtively from side to side, then stumped across the hallway. The wheels on his walker squeaked across gray linoleum. He reached the door marked “utility closet” and rapped twice, paused, then knocked three times. He waited. He glanced left and right, muttered something under his breath, and lifted his hand to knock again.
he table, gulping OJ and squirting lime juice onto a 1-inch-high stack of sugared crepes.
my feet as I walk. I’m wading deeper. Liquid slides up my shins, my knees, my thighs. I gasp as it hits my stomach. I splay my arms as it sweeps over my breasts. It sloshes against my neck. I’m swimming.
Her hands had never failed her before. With them she’d wielded the jegun blade in battle among the stars. With them she’d climbed the falling trees of Dong’ea Sulai, felled a shrieking falcon, and plucked maika wool. She’d always trusted her hands.
Eevy Menkos licked her finger and jabbed it skyward. Her tongue flicked between her lips. Her eyes narrowed in concentration. Then she yipped, kicked her heels together and took a running leap over the rosebush. She skidded left and right along the path. The patio door banged shut behind her.