Thursday, October 29, 2009

The Nick Of Time (and other abrasions): A Heart Full Of Dust Twenty Nine

The Nick Of Time (and other abrasions)

A Heart Full Of Dust


Al Bruno III

(Twenty Nine)

Her run though the swamp left her coated with mud from the waist down. The dress her mother had made for her was reduced to tatters and everywhere on her body there were nicks and dents. But that was all right, she had known she was falling apart from the first crack. Mother had taught her all about entropy, in lots of little ways. All she cared about now was getting back to Vagabond.

He might think he didn't need her but Lily wasn't convinced. Especially now, he was changing before her eyes in so many ways; once he had been like a magician to her but now he seemed as vulnerable as any other man.

Tremors shook the swamp, knocking Lily off balance. A nearby sycamore tree and a lucky grab was all that saved her. She hung there a moment, her screen inches from the water, and felt sick at the thought of how close a call that had been. Ordinarily water wasn't anything she had to worry about, but all it would take to finish her off now was one trickle of water though her cracked screen. All the magic in the world couldn't save her from a short-circuit. The tremors increased, she righted herself and clung to the tree, watching with terror as the swamp collapsed around her.

When the last of the aftershocks had passed she cautiously let go of her sycamore- one of the few left standing- and continued. It was hard going, there were snapped trees everywhere and huge slabs of stone had been thrown up here and there. She worried that there might be sinkholes waiting for her to take a single ill-fated step. But before that could happen she found herself at the edge of the swamp.

Lily gasped as she surveyed the destruction the quake had visited on the hive. It was half-consumed by a crater, the tower that crowned the hive was teetering wildly to the right. An aurora shone down like a beacon, washing red light over the destruction, she could see the few surviving Myrmex by the light. They were blundering through the wreckage, trying desperately to rebuild what they had lost. It made Lily feel a twinge of guilt for every anthill she had ever stepped on.

The light simply died, leaving her dazed. The dawn was just beginning to wash over the scarred horizon. Did this mean that Vagabond had gotten the Splinter back? Lily looked up and saw that he was indeed at the summit of the tower, but there was something coming up fast behind him.

“Vagabond!” she cried out in warning but it was too late, the monster had hold of his leg and was shaking its head like a blood-crazed dog.

Lily ran for the tower, the mud on her feet instantly becoming coated with a fine layer of dust. She didn't know what she could do to save him, but she had to try.

Of course Lily didn't feel the blow that knocked her to the ground. But she did see the world knocked out from beneath her, and she did hear a guttural voice snarl “Fucking mechanical cunt!”

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