From the Vault is a new series where I share my stories I've written. As originally conceived, many of them are incomplete. They range in size from flash fiction to novellas. I owe it to them to see the light of day rather than sitting in a dusty notebook or on my Google Drive. Enjoy.
Out of habit, Elenora Pinto pulled the sun-warmed binoculars to her face. Atop the cerulean dunes stood a regal red-skinned warrior. His gray warrior’s tunic billowed in the wind, his hoffa firm in hand.
“My shadow,” she said with a mix of wonder and resignation. A soft kick from her belly brought her attention back to her swollen frame.
“Two more months and you’ll meet him,” she said as she placed her hand on her right side, the source of the kick. She looked up at the sky. The sun, by her estimate, approached its zenith. Her collection kit and its tools splayed out before her.
“Fuck this.” A sharper kick in her right side came.
“Sorry,” she said to her belly. The doctors warned her that Geniasian children were self-aware in utero. She had not believed him until she drew nearer to pahn’lay, the birthing time. The kicks grew sharper, sensitive to her feelings and words. That is also when her shadow returned. A warrior’s responsibility to be near his pa’alay. She fingered her gold wedding band.
“Are you returning?”
She jumped at the baritone voice from behind her. She meet Jonay’s gaze. The gray hood of his warrior’s tunic was up. She looked back in the direction from whence he came. Her eyes could see nothing. No movement.
“How long?” she asked. She packed up her equipment quicker. She glanced back up at him. His dark lavendar eyes had been looking at the gold band she still wore. Feeling embarrassed more so for him, she pulled on her gloves as casually as possible.
“Soon,” he said. His usual baritone slightly high. Snapping her kit shut, she pulled her own green hood up. He moved closer, his hand extended. She hesitated before taking. Despite the heat, his hand was cool to the touch. Would my child be cold to the touch like you, she wondered. He held her hand for several moments. Her heart started to pound in her chest. He released his soft grip and moved toward the jym’la. Or, as Elenora thought of it one of the go karts from a movie her father showed her as a child. About some guy name Max in the desert.
She climbed into the tight driver’s seat, clutching her belly as she did. Jonay stood in the back observing the movements of the coming sandstorm.
“The storm will be here in,” he paused.
“ten minutes of your time.” The familiar word sounded foreign to her ears as Genaisians had a tendency of emphasizing a hard ‘u’ sound in minutes. Shifting the jym’la in gear, she drove as fast as she could to the research station. She focused on the dipping dunes ahead and trying to find the straightest and quickest path. Even at the fastest speed possible, she knew they would not make it before the sandstorm hit. She felt a soft nudge on her left side. She liked to think it was the baby’s way of saying it was going to be okay.
“I sure hope so, little one.”
The sandstorm moved in fast. Faster than Elenora’s buggy could out run it. The steady green light of the gps winked at her from the dashboard, a calm reassurance she was heading in the right direction. She glanced up at Jonay. He stood facing the coming storm, a true Genaisian warrior. They like to see death coming. She chided herself for the thought. They wouldn’t die out here.
The storm picked up in strength. Quickly outpacing and eventually surpassing the buggy. The green light taking longer and longer pauses between winks. Elenora tightened her grip on the steering will and pressed the gas pedal down further. But, she could no longer see the light. It stopped blinking moments later. Keep heading north west, she told herself. Keep heading north west.
“It won’t go any further,” Elenora screamed over the roar of the sandstorm. She looked up in the general direction of where she knew Jonay stood but she could not see him. The blue swirling, writhing sand blotted out his shape. She pressed on the pedal and the buggy vibrated and then shook violently before going silent. Maybe he felt that at least, she thought.
“Jonay,” she called out. Nothing was her answer. No audible response. No touch to indicate he was there. Had he abandoned her, she thought. The little one in her belly had gone silent as well. No kicking.
Her hood kept out most of the sand but fine silt began to seep in. She shifted her leg and felt sand move around her calf. Her heart leaped. Sitting still any longer and she would be buried alive.
“At least I would be with Aaron,” she mumbled. Out of habit, she looked around for her shadow despite the fact she could not see. Jonay did not like to her to talk of Aaron. Her time before. But how could she not. He was her husband. She felt a tiny pain in her heart, as if someone took a needle and pierced it. At this, the little one poked her. In spite of her sadness, she smiled.
She groped her way to the front of the buggy. The direction they were headed.
“Last gps reading. Five maybe 10 minutes ago? 10 miles from station. How fast was I going?” she thought aloud. She gripped onto the front of the buggy. Her heart pounded in her chest. Her breathe quickened.
“Jonay,” she called again. Nothing but the howl. One reached out into the swirling blue sand. The other still gripped the buggy.
“C’mon Elenora,” she whispered. She took a deep breathe and let go.
Thanks for reading. I hope you enjoyed this little space adventure set not-too-far into the future.