The Undeniable Labyrinth

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Status: In Progress  |  Genre: Science Fiction  |  House: Booksie Classic

Chapter 8 (v.1) - Chapter Eight: Blistering Wind

Submitted: August 30, 2019

Reads: 8

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Submitted: August 30, 2019

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A blistering wind blew across his face, merciless needles of ice peppering his exposed skin. The bone-deep chill kept creeping in, alternating with the burning heat of intense physical effort. Whoever had activated the mirror port hadn’t chosen the best time to do it. Winter was approaching – bitter cold, driving wind, and storm.

Traejan crouched, leaned forwards against the straps, exhausted from trudging through the ice for three days, the frigid wind lashing his face all the way. He stared through his frosted facemask into the relentless blowing snow ahead. Just in sight, the ghost-like shape of Kyso struggled, bent over as he forced his way through the constant stream of white.

Weeks of mersion games didn’t seem to have done much for his endurance. Surprising, considering how much energy they took to play.

Come on, you’re falling behind a frail oldster. Even a sled packed with supplies shouldn’t be killing you.

The snow pack under his feet deepened; he slowed a bit. The sled’s micro-thrusters weren’t working well, barely compensating for its mass. He was struggling for each step, gasping for breath. Traejan shut his eyes tight and pushed his way forward.

Shit, streck, shit, when is this going to end?

Abruptly, it did. He almost stumbled right into Kyso. Were they there, already?

His friend turned a masked face, held a thickly mittened hand up, then showed him why he’d stopped.

Traejan winced at the sight – cursed again. They’d gone way off course. The blowing snow was clearing away. They stood in sudden, brilliant sunlight. Bare gray rocks stuck out of the ice, against the empty blue sky. In the distance, high, white mountains cut the horizon. They’d missed the easy slope by kilometers.

Traejan released the straps, looked at the old man, who shrugged – motioned ahead.

They hunkered down in a crevice, sheltered from the worst of the wind. Kyso took out his binocs, turned them towards the wide valley below them. Traejan couldn’t see the station with his naked eyes, but it was visible through his lenses, if only just. He adjusted his own binocs to maximum, but still couldn’t coax out a good image – only a lump of structures poking out of the ice. The glare was too strong, solid white, hiding most details.

“I can’t see much from this distance.” Kyso’s voice rough, raw, and muffled by his mask, strained to rise above the howling wind. Traejan looked away from his binoc image to see the man shake his head.

“There’s a lot of blowing snow out there.” He pointed out into the blue. “I don’t see any evidence of activity.”

“We’re a solid fifty kilometers away,” Traejan knew. Fifty! That’s going to kill me for sure. “And whatever went on there happened inside – not out.”

“Still could be bots,” Kyso offered. “There’s been a lot of weather out here, could hide anything.”

“Couldn’t!” Traejan protested, irritated at the other man’s repeated contrariness. He wouldn’t accept that the things would come so far north.

“Still think you’re an expert on everything mech, do you?” Kyso shot back.

“As much as you are,” He retorted angrily. Kyso might have yelled something further. Traejan wasn’t listening. He crept over to the ledge – looked down. The ice and rock precipice beckoned. The base was not as far down as he’d expected, but easily enough to be a fatal drop.

It’d be quick though, he told himself, not a slow, tortuous wearing away. Maybe put the old man out of his misery. He turned, crawled back, motioned to Kyso.

“Want to try the short way down the cliff face?” he yelled, pointing towards the edge. “It’ll only take a few seconds!”

Kyso wasn’t interested. Instead, he pointed south, back to the safe route. Traejan looked out at the stark, white landscape, punctuated only by gray, bare rock.

When he looked back, Kyso had disappeared into the blow, his vague silhouette merge in with the darker, shadowy form of the sled. Must be break time, Traejan realized – not a moment to soon. He couldn’t feel his fingers anymore, or his toes.

 


© Copyright 2019 Alan Alaric Roi. All rights reserved.

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