Feels weird to say this right now but, back to the grind we go. This is a quick piece. And be prepared, I will be dropping you into the middle of it (seems the way things go most of the time anyway).
In the background I am going through thoughts of things that will be showing up within the next year or so. What this means for you, an opportunity to see some experimental pieces as I am doing the behind the scenes work.
Rush the Gates
Jarad’s lungs screamed for air. Filter’s in the gas mask only allowed so much back and forth. Still he raced ahead, a battle through the thick undergrowth. Felled trees and broken branches crashed behind him as the metal beast pursued him.
Though he could see little before him through the sulphuric gas fog, he knew the direction he had to go, away from the the beast. His size and agility meant little when compared to something that broke its way through the trees it could not go around. But that small advantage bought him a lead just the same. In brief moments when his mind did not focus on survival he thought back to the mistake. The moment he awoke it. What did he do wrong? Well, aside from the obvious…
Another crash, closer now. Damn him, he had let loose thoughts get the better of him and slow his pace. He ducked under a fallen tree trunk and pushed himself toward a murky yellow light up ahead. Out of the corner of his eye he caught a swift movement. Not much of a warning but enough, he dove forward, and the great hand grasped the air where he had stood.
Jarad rolled and sprang to his feet, twisted to run a new direction, straight at the giant automaton. It’s outline in the dense fog gave him a sense of where he needed to be, though no details of the thing. It toward over him, with legs that ended just above the top of his head. A grasping hand could crush his chest if it managed to catch him.
He gambled and won. The giant did not have the agility to change direction with him and he found himself behind it. But the burst of movement cost him. Lack of air in his lungs had taken its toll. His body refused to respond to his commands. He fell to the ground in a heap, gasping for breath.
Jarad pulled his pistol and chambered a round, not much but all he had. To think he had run so far, and now this would be where he met his end, so close to the safety of the bunker.
The ponderous behemoth fought the trees to turn back around. Precious time for Jarad to regain his breath once again. Slow thumps shook the earth as it trundled toward him again. The tree trunk cover he hid behind felt like a paper shell in comparison and he could not run again.
His breathing, slow and ragged, rattled his nerves as he stepped into the open. The clearing made by the behemoth in its chase. When the arm reached down this time, he held fast and allowed the capture. No point in a chase he could no longer run.
Servos and gears clicked and whirred as the great arm lifted him into the air. Out of the lower fog Jarad found his final chance. The beast wasn’t the automaton he thought it to be. Instead he came face to face with a soldier, a man much like himself. A driver that controlled the powered beast from a cockpit up above the forest floor.
A man he could deal with, something he had not expected. Here above the gas he lifted the pistol and fired. One shot was all he needed, this one shot that cut through the mask his opponent war and pierced his skull.
As he slumped forward the machines controls slipped from his hands and its arm dropped down. Jarad fought fear of the thing’s fingers to drop back to the forest floor.
He caught his breath as he worked his way through the murk and gloom, the final path to the yellow light of safety.