Uneasy my pet scurries on the ground. I watch him thoughtfully I know that when he reacts panicked, I have to move as fast as I can.
My gaze doesn’t purely rest on my scaly friend my eyes scan the horizon hoping to see my brother approach soon.
Finally, Bertram rests his scaly body on the sand and starts to bask in the sunlight. We’re safe enough then. Calmly I unpack my tools. While my brother is away I promised to check the water here if it is drinkable or even usable. Seeing the shimmer in the water I highly doubt it. But it is only proven when I get the numbers. So with great care I take a sample of the water and work it through different solutions and tests.
All the while I keep looking up. Where is he…
As I suspected the water is useless to much pollution. I even suspect there might be fissure underneath this bed of water. We shouldn’t stay here for to long then.
A high pitch caw in the distance and I look up there he is. I stand up and pack up my things waving him towards me.
I see him frantically waving back at me and signaling something.
Putting the binoculars in front of my eyes I see the dust cloud following him.
“Seriously! Never a dull moment with that brother of mine.
The lazy big lizard who normally stays very close to the ground now wiggles and with a surprising strength it jumps up and climbs it way on my hip and back. All the while I start to pack the tools. There is not many left and I sure as hell am not going to lose this.
I hear the galloping sound of my brothers hippogriff, it is a young thing and has energy for days but sometimes it is a bit hard to control. I see it wants to turn to go to the group that is following my brother… the hell did he do this time? He should only go trade for supplies.
There are not many tradeposts around most have been taken over by gangs and if you are not part of their group you are out of luck and usually out of your own stuff as well and or life.. it really depends who the gang is.
Some do even slave trade for various purposes. It is a whole turn to the worse this place made after the first fissures opened.
By now I have my bag packed and stand ready to grab my brother’s arm. Yes it is as if we have done this before. And we have many times. Two young people in an decaying society, some would say easy targets. But my brother and I are not easily taken, stolen from or killed.
I grab his arm. The unpleasant jerk in my shoulder from the sudden pull into motion makes me squint. When I am settled behind him and comfortable enough I lean into him and ask “What have you done now?”
Just a wide girn on his face and he shouts back to me
“Was the water usable? And did you leave anything behind?”
I roll my eyes and answer short
“No and of course not.”
A short nod from my brother and he leans in to whisper encouraging words to his hippogriff.
I can only sit and hold on. We will lose the group behind us. Two of us are always faster then a whole bunch of them, and they don’t want to waste precious fuel. We just have to cuddle the hippogriff a bit more and do some grooming… That animal has an attitude.
We ride for the remainder of the day, after we have lost them we slow the pace. I slowly nod of to sleep.
When I wake up we have stopped and my brother dear made ourselves a little camp.
He points to the little stream near us.
“Haven’t tested it yet I know you don’t like it when I touch your things. “
A short nod and stand up from the blanket I was apparently sleeping on. Grabbing my kit I start testing the water. Gathering it up in pans and buckets if this is a good enough quality we could finaly stock up on some water. We were in dire need of it.
After a bit I happily clap my hands and start pouring the buckets into the sealable empty water containers.
“It is good water. We might even find fresh food if we go up the stream! I saw traces of active plant life, algae, naturally rotted leaves. Without a trace of shimmers. “
“Well that is a pleasant surprise. Alright we’ll rest up and then in the morning we move up the stream. “
“I’ll keep watch, I’ve already slept. You sleep and yes I’ll groom prancing attitude over there. Else they get cranky anyway.”
After a good fresh drink of water and some food my brother dozes quickly off to sleep.
Eventho it might not seem it, we know that we are going to die here. Everybody basically is, I’ve seen the numbers the air is getting more and more polluted with fine shimmers. You can’t always see it. Just at a certain point when the sun goes down or comes up you can see it.
A loud tink sound and I am up and alert, shit… shit shit.. Trouble. I kick my brother awake, he can be angry with me later.
I cover the hippogriff and make sure Bertram is hidden in my sweater. Quickly packing up everything and covering that I can cover. By now my brother knows what is going on and helps me. Even if it didn’t look like rain we still put up our Kevlar tarp everytime we stop. Just for this reason. Moving everything under the protection of the tarp we huddle under it as well.
The rain really picking up.
The downside of rain and the pollution, the shimmering in the air solidifies when it comes in contact with water. So rain just becomes little sharp projectiles hurling itself down. Up side of rain it cleans the air for a while. Downside. Walking is dangerous and painful. Solidified metal drops are razor sharp.
Leaning against eachother we just wait it out resting a while. No one is as stupid or suicidal to walk through the rain.
Rain… I miss the feeling of rain on my face.
After an hour or two it stopped, the ground is almost one large metal sheet. The white bright metal is menacing looking. Well for us because we know the damage it does. Perhaps if someone would have never seen this phenomenon they might be impressed by the shimmering drops covering the ground.
But everyone knows the danger of rain.
We pack up our things and move on.
We decide to walk one up front one in the back, with thick leaved branches one clears a path and the other shovels the drops on the path again. We are not going to make it easy for anyone.
Moving up the stream at a point we can hear a little waterfall. It is beautiful, we decide to set up camp and wander around a bit. Both of us return with fresh produce, some fruits some vegetables, checking them it shows they are clear and safe to eat.
We wash ourselves our clothing and everything that needs cleaning in the stream. We eat, laugh, joke around. For a moment life feels like it should be and it is just like we are on a camping trip.
When my brother starts to cook dinner I grab my drawing tools and start to sketch this moment. It is a moment I do not want to forget. He turns around and walks to his bag. Rummaging around it he pulls out a little wrapped up package. With a big grin he hands it over.
“Happy birthday sis! “
“Oh right.. that is today. “ I quickly start to unwrap my package and inside it is a new set of pencils and a sketchbook. Overjoyed I hug my brother planting a big kiss on his cheek.
“Thankyou so much! Let me guess…. This is why you were… followed?”
That boyish big grin of his returns and he nods proudly
“Could not have not a present for my sister on her birthday… “
I laugh maybe a bit to loudly and then shake my head.
“Oh now you mention it. It is also your birthday isn’t it?” I lean back grab my bag and take out two packages one slightly bigger then the other. Handing it over to him.
“It is for you and your friend. “
Unwrapping it his eyes grow wide.
“You made this? How? It is beautiful.”
I take the bracelet and close it around his wrist. It has a depiction of a hippogriff on the side and our family crest with it.
“Well time, patience and some heat.
That can be hung on the harness in front, though your cocky friend needs some embelishments to show off their status.”
He hangs it on the harness and it actually fits perfectly. Hah measurements were precise enough.
“This is a good birthday.” I say as my brother returns to cooking.
Laying back on the blanket I just stare up watching the sky. Even with the knowledge we will all eventually die a horrible death. These moments make me feel so alive.
After a bit the smell of a well cooked dinner reaches me and I sit up. I see my brother staring at something. Following his gaze I look.
A silver fish splashes in the water.
No not silver. Shit it is hit with the metal shimmer. My eyes shoot to my brother and he looks worried as well.
I take a step towards the stream to investigate. I hear my brother packing up things I see the stream slowly becoming solid. A cloud rolling down the mountain side.
I feel the sting that tears are welling up, I fight it. Having tears solidified in a metal to your face is very painful to remove. I do not know why but I am stuck to the ground. Is this fear? Like is this our end.
I hear my brother at a large distance calling my name. He gets closer. Or was he already next to me.
I feel his hand grabbing my arm and dragging me on the back of the hippogriff.
“We have to move NOW!”
I look confused around
“But our things?”
He jumps on the back of the hippogriff with me and we fly off. The hippogriff is young and cannot fly great distances yet. After a short fly we can feel the strain in the muscles. I am a lot clearer now and point to an area where the earth seems stable enough. No visible fissures so far.
We land and walk as fast we can.
My brother looks frantically around.
“Where to? That cloud is going to cover the whole ground at a point. “
My mind races, okey a dust filled cloud, we need currents to disrupt it. We need temperature differences, it seems to really react to that.
I look at my brother as I got an idea.
“The ocean, Sea, salt water! “
He looks at me like I’m insane.
“Yeah and that is not dangerous how?”
I shake my head
“Due to the sun and the ever moving currents and pressure areas the cloud will be more dispersed or even be prevented to get to us if we seek the right position on the water. We have to get to a boat now!”
He nods and we go to a little docking area. Most boats have been used for parts, the ones that were still usable. But there is one small sail boat. We can barely fit on it with the four of us. But we move the little things we have left and push off.
My brother sails, and I navigate. Feeling the currents, keeping an eye on the winds I manage to move our little rescue vessel to a safe spot in the water.
We just stare at eachother for a while. Knowing that this might just as well be stretching the inevitable.
He sings me to sleep, he has a beautiful voice and since we are little he could always calm me down. We huddle up on the bottom of the ship and cover ourselves with the blanket we still have.
He falls asleep. But I can’t. I do not know after how long but at a point I got an idea.
Starting some calculations and measurements of the wind and current I change the position of the sails. Not opening them fully but just enough and I allow us to move. We should stay ahead of the cloud this way.
Then I just sit and stare. At a point he sits next to me. And ask in a soft tone “where are we going?”
I hold up my shoulders in a shrug “I do not know for sure, but ahead of the cloud. “ My hand searches for his. And I smile “Will you sing again for me? You know of that beautiful place?”