Archive for August, 2014


Sophia awoke covered in water. The stream has risen over night, slowly turning into a river as the current became stronger. Silver was barking, in an attempt to wake everyone not on the edge of the water, already awoken by the sudden dampness. There was a low rumbling in the distance, as it drew closer Silver’s barks drew louder and more panicked, Sophia couldn’t make any sense of the sound but trusted Silver’s instincts enough to know that it wasn’t good. Jace had just woken up and looked around, and started to wake the others.

Sophia stood still scanning the river bank, looking for a way up and out. The bank on the far side of the river where they had jumped down was only about 6 or 7 feet tall with a gently sloping hillside after that. But the bank on this side was closer to 15 feet with a cliff over hang. Climbing, on this side, didn’t look to be an option. The water was now up to her knees, the current growing strong all the time. At its deepest it was probably up to 4 feet now, and rising. With the pull of the water and the depth they might be swept away before making it back to the other side. There has to be a way out.

Everyone was awake and some of them where starting to panic, cries and screams were surfacing everywhere, and all the time the rumble was growing stronger. The bend in the river hiding the approach of whatever it was, for now at least.   

“Silver” Sophia called. The dog stopped barking for a moment and looked at her locking eyes. “Lead” Sophia commanded. Silver barked and turned to run, Sophia followed and the others followed her.

Silver ran 100 yards downstream then seemed to disappear from sight. When Sophia came to this spot she discovered a fallen tree, it had sheltered the dirt and rock behind it, somewhat, from the water’s erosion creating a slope in the cliff face behind it. Silver was sitting half way up the slope waiting for Sophia to follow. The water was almost up to her waist, the current trying to dragger along with it. She looked back over her solder to see if the others were following and that’s when she saw it.

A wall of water spiraling down the river bed, it was as though a dame had burst somewhere up stream. Some of those who had trailed behind where starting to get swept up in it, they reached out to grab on to anything they could, often having their hands closes firmly around thin air.

Soph had started running backward before she knew what her feet where doing, unable to take her eyes off of the swirl of rushing water. She slipped and felt Silver’s body under hers the only thing which kept her from falling down. Jace ran the remaining yards between the two of them and pulled her to her feet while Sid and a few others ran past.

She turned around and ran like the others. They made it to the top just as the rushing water hit the base of the slope. It splashed up and over the side threatening to pull the few who has made it up to the top back in. As the wave passed the water settled just below the lip of the cliff and extended to the hill top on the other side. There was no sign of anyone who had not made it out. They were far down stream by now.

As the water settled and the rumble dissipated Soph looked around. Jace had made it up and was standing beside her looking out over the area in disbelief. Sid, and three others were also with them. The rest were nowhere to be seen.

“Flash… flood…” someone mumbled under their breath, not entirely sure if they had come up with the correct term. Whatever it was it was devastating. What could have caused such a thing was beyond them.

“Come on, let’s keep going” Sid stated. They were all tired, hungry, wet and still in shock but none of them could think of a good reason to stay.

“Which way?” Sophia directed her question to Jace who was still standing staring in puzzlement at the river. The water was continuing to calm and lower as the torrent moved further down stream and the water spread out across the river bed. Jace didn’t seem to hear Soph.

“Follow the river?” Sid suggested in Jace’s silence.

“Jace” Soph asked again, “What do you think?” They wouldn’t have made it this far without him and there was something about Jace that she trusted over the others in the group. She for one was not going to move on without his opinion.

Jace continued to stare at the water’s edge but spoke “Yes, follow the river, that ways we have water at least, but move up stream. I want to see if we can find what caused this.” Jace crouched by the river and stuck a finger in, watching the ripples created move away.

“Okay,” replied Soph, looking around the group for any sign of objection. Sid did not look overly happy about it but he did not voice any concerns, “Let’s go” Soph moved towards Jace and extended her hand to him. He took it and stood. Then they started up stream.
***

Within the hour their clothes had dried from the heat of the sun. Soph found herself almost wishing for the heavy discomfort of her soaking jeans again as the sweat started to bead on the back of her neck. The water levels were lowering, though the ground anywhere near the water’s edge had turned to mud, farther out the ground was so dry and brittle it cracked under foot. Soph was thirsty, as were many of the others, but the ground near the water’s edge was so saturated that you sunk almost waist deep into it when you stepped on it. It had taken an hour to pull out the first person who tried it and others had gotten stuck in the process. It wasn’t worth it.

So they walked on. Tired, thirsty, hungry, hot, no shade as far as they eye could see. After a while Soph stopped looking up to see if that had changed. After a while longer she stopped trusting her eyes when she did look up, so when the figures first appeared on the horizon she, Jace and the others all assumed they had imagined them. They didn’t stop to ask if anyone else saw it to. When the thin dark grey line started to stretch across the horizon along the top of the river bank they each dismissed it known how desperately they were hoping for shade, knowing how far their body was pushed and how easily their brain could be playing tricks on them. When long tall blobs started poking up out of the land in front of them, again, they thought they must be seeing things. It wasn’t until Silver started barking at those human shaped blobs on the skyline that they began to believe that what they were seeing might be real.

Jace was the first to stop, “do you see….” He muttered. Unwilling to commit to the words even now.

Soph just nodded. A chill went down her spine. Are those people? She thought as she realized the three blobs seemed to be coming closer even though they had all stopped. The long grey line over the river remained in its place, though now that they were closer she could see some pock marks in the outline, round holes which the light seemed to glisten though.

“Maybe we should turn back” Sid’s voice trembled with a hint of fear. Some of the others shook their heads in agreement. A few took a step or two backwards.

“No!” Jace’s voice was forceful. Soph turned and frowned at him, confused. She was inclined at agree with him, though she understood the fear of the others. They were banned for civilization, and if they had stumbled back upon they had been warned the punishment would be worse then what they were facing now, yet this didn’t look like civilization to her.

“They must be like us”

“That’s crazy” Sid chimed in “We all know we were sent out here to die, this idea we have a chance is just what they tell themselves to let them sleep at night. No way has anyone survived this.” Sid was just saying what they were all thinking but didn’t want to believe.

The blobs on the horizon continued to grow, come closer and take shape as they argued. Occasionally someone would shuffle a couple feet one way or the other as the frustrated rhetoric of Sid and Jace swayed them one way or the other. The two men were too enveloped in their own word to realized that their decision would be made for them before too long.

Soph, took a seat and called Silver over to her side. She stroked Silver’s fur, clumps of it coming off in her hands as the dog shed due to the over whelming heat. Soph wished she had thought to bring a brush with her. Combing Silver’s fur with her finger Soph watched the others come closer.

There were indeed three of them. Two appeared to be taller than the other, though as they came closer Soph realized that one of them was only made taller by the way in which they had their hair mounded into a braided spiral on top of their head, they all appeared to be carrying heavy packs on their back, their clothing was the colour of everything else around them, tan from being matted with dirt and mud. Definitely not civilization, Soph thought.

When the others came within about two hundred meters one of them raised their hand all but grunted “Oi.”

The voice of the stranger silenced Jace and Sid’s squabbling, they turned to look in the direction of the sound, both in a kind of stunned shock.

The other’s jogged the remaining space between them, stopping about fifteen feet away from the rest of the group. The same on who had gotten their attention earlier continued in a casual joking voice “Where did you come from?”

Two women and the man who was talking were in the group, and as Soph has suspected they were all carrying packs on their back – one of the women had a bow strapped across their shoulders as well. The others had what appeared to be hand carved spear heads at their belts. The man addressing them had a hand resting near the base of the spear head, ready to turn off the charm and resort to other means if necessary.  

The woman carrying the bow was the one Soph had taken for taller at first with her hair mounded in the spiral of braids on her head. The other woman had the sides of her head shaved, and the hair that remained was in dreads which fell down the back of her head and well past her waist.

The man speaking to them had opted to completely shave his head, though it wouldn’t have surprised Soph if this had been done with the spear head at his waist. The hair was cut off in uneven clumps, though one might not notice this if they were not looking too closely.

“I could ask the same of you” Sid said, the first to recover from the shock of having the decision forced on him.

Jace soon followed with a “that depends on what you are asking. We came from downstream just now if that’s what you mean.”

“And before that?” The man smirked and directed the question to Jace.

“Same place as you I suspect” Jace replied nonchalantly.

This brought a smile to the man’s lips “Your name?” he inquired.

“If you give me yours” Jace replied.

“Fair enough. You look thirsty, you all do, here.” He reached into his bag and pulled out a canteen, he walked forward, as did Jace. They met in the middle of the no man’s land between the groups. The man signaled for the women to do the same, Soph, walked up to meet one of them, Sid met the other. Once they drank they returned to their group and passed the canteen around. Once everyone else had drank Soph took back a canteen and indicated her dog to the others, when they nodded she poured out some water into a cupped hand and let silver lap it up appreciatively. They then returned the canteens.

“Where are you headed?” he asked Jace.

“I can’t speak for everyone but I was trying to find you, or others like you.”

“How…?” the man look dumbfound. Soph also had to wonder how Jace knew there were be others here. That wasn’t the type of thing you would say in a situation like this if one didn’t mean it. The statement had them back on guard. “Are you…?”

“I’m not connected,” Jace turned to reveal the fresh wound on his neck from having the link removed. “The rest I will tell you on the way if you invite us to shelter with you. If you leave us to the elements that will have to be a secret I take with me as I take my chance out here.”

There was a long pause. The others retreated a few paces and discussed the decision in hushed voices. After a moment they gave a wave for the group to follow, and Jace jogged up to the lead to uphold his half of the arrangement.

After making sure the group was following Soph and jogged up to listen in along with Sid, who looked somehow personally offended by all this. Why was beyond Soph, a chance at life was worth it to her. Even if, as it turned out, Jace was more willing to tell a stranger how he knew what he knew than he had been willing to tell her.

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