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Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Excerpt from 'The Dry Lands - a Hutch and A'ris novel' by Trish Marie Dawson

*Science Fiction Fantasy*
Chapter 1 - Hutch Falls

As he rested on the cracked and dusty ground unblinking, his eyes stared up at the copper clouds, utterly and completely emotionless. They drifted above him like a slow-moving processional, obscuring the harsh light of the sun from his broken body.

The Workers tossed him out like the trash; a piece of waste no longer needed. Just like that — his life was supposed to be over. With a grunt and a considerable amount of effort, he bent his limbs at the joints, cringing from the sound of bones as they rubbed unnaturally against the breaks sustained in the fall. The dry air zapped all moisture from his mouth and he fought to keep from spitting out the dirt that swirled onto his tongue. Spit was precious in the Dry Lands. Even if one was lucky enough to end up in the unforgiving desert with water, a man simply did not spit out his life-source onto the gritty earth because of a little sand.

Krane Hutch had never been a lucky man.

It took five minutes to realign his left arm enough to slowly reach across his chest and tug on his right arm. It was broken in more places than Krane thought possible; flopping limply in every direction when he managed to lift his hand off the hot dirt of the canyon edge. The pain was there in full force — stinging at his eyes, creating a dull ache in his head and forcing bile up his throat, but he clamped down harder on his jaw until it popped, along with his right elbow.

His sweaty head fell back onto the ground in relief. The hardest part was done. Arms took longer to heal than legs. The bones were smaller and there were a lot more of them. Plus, he couldn't align the joints in his lower half without the use of his upper half, so hands and arms would always rank higher than legs and feet. His legs usually took only minutes to repair.

With a series of deep breaths, he tilted his neck from side to side and rested his swollen arms straight at his sides. Then he rolled his hips back and forth, slowly setting the snapped and protruding disks of his back into their rightful slots. The spine was tricky. The first time he broke his back was after a night out with a salvage team, who, like all other Workers, spent more time drinking illegal rash than actually salvaging anything. Drunk and unaware of his surroundings, he stepped off the ship's loading dock and propelled face-first down a cliff. A boulder broke his fall, and he spent the night in excruciating pain trying to put his snapped vertebrae back together. The Workers never noticed he was gone. At dawn, when he stumbled back into the galley, the other men were too drunk or too uninterested to ask about his blood soaked clothing, so he didn't bother filling them in. He was used to doing everything on his own. Always had been and always would be totally alone.

Spread out in the dirt just an hour or so before the hottest time of the day, he stretched his legs out carefully, flexing his toes up and down until the muscles of his lower back constricted around the damaged disks. He bit down on his tongue, drawing fresh blood more than once before it was over. But it definitely didn't take all night. Less than one hour after he was tossed mercilessly out of the hot sky, he sat up to investigate his surroundings.

"Now, isn't this just bloody brilliant?" he asked the whispery wind.

The only answer he received was a faraway call of a bird of prey he'd rather not meet face to face. Fisting his hands, he pushed his knuckles into the dirt and shakily righted himself. He had managed to land less than one hundred feet from the edge of a massive canyon. Other than the gargantuan split in the earth, there was absolutely nothing to see. It was just a blanket of dry, brown rock and blowing sand that stretched out before him.

His six-foot frame barely cast a shadow. The sun was high in the east, and rising quickly, filling all the cracks below its massive size with light. It seemed close enough for Hutch to reach out and touch it, if he jumped. He had no plans on being out in the open when it was high noon. The heat alone would blister his skin. The thermal rays beating down on the Dry Lands had killed all but the smallest of creatures; except perhaps the ones that slithered beneath the ground. No man had lived to tell an honest tale about those beings, so he doubted their actual existence. Still, he walked quickly and with focus, even though he wasn't exactly sure where he was or where he should go.

With no food or water, not even a flask of rash in his back pocket to swig, he figured he had less than two days in the awful and uninhabited region before the birds found his corpse and picked it clean. It wasn’t enough time to cross the massive expanse of dead land, but he had no choice but to try.

While whistling the tune of a song long ago forgotten, his feet kicked up bowls of dust with each gaping stride as he paced toward the mountains. From afar they seemed to be nothing better than scraggly rocks jutting from the fractured crust spouting steamy vapors, too frigid at night to keep even a gnat alive, he figured, but it was his best option. Shelter was essential to survival.

The hard knock to his head had obliterated the last day of memory from his mind, but he knew why he was there. Why he had been cast out with no supplies, yet not stripped of his clothes or boots - a loss that would certainly mean instant death in a place like the Dry Lands — a place that was famous even off planet. The hot and arid terrain was the perfect place to dump a man you wanted to suffer. Otherwise he’d have been jettisoned into space ensuring an instant death. Someone was making a statement. They wanted him gone, but not too quickly. Nah, someone wanted Krane to suffer. The fall hurt like a bitch, he'd be the first to admit that, but the recovery was worse. Crashing to the earth took only seconds — putting the bones back together took far longer than that. He supposed he was lucky they dumped him and flew off. Had they stayed to admire their work, his former peers would have found Krane in a state of reconstruction. Workers weren't the smartest group of men, but even they knew it wasn't normal for a man to do what Krane could. He was different, in more ways than one, and people like him were killed for far less remarkable reasons. If they came back and found no sign of his body, they'd simply assume the predators dragged his busted corpse off and had him for lunch. He wasn’t important enough to be given a second thought.

With a ragged sigh, he shook his head at his predicament while his strides slowed on the incline at the base of a steep hill. He knew that girl would be his undoing. Girls always were his undoing. Damn him for thinking he could bed the Captain's daughter and get away with it. No, Krane Hutch had never been a lucky man.

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1 comment:

  1. Thank you for featuring The Dry Lands on your blog! :)

    ReplyDelete