Have a read of this debut sci-fi novel Earth Three from Richard Ross and don’t forget you can leave comments.
The night is cold today. I watch the white smoke come from my mouth and dissipate in the darkness every time I exhale. It helps me to control my breathing. As we creep our way through the narrow alleys of the Central District, I try to empty my mind of everything and slow down my heartbeat. But I can’t.
There is no one in the streets. Not a single soul. Not even soldiers. It’s so silent now that I think someone might be able to hear our footsteps from miles away. But we don’t slow down, not even for a second. We walk as fast as we can. The sooner we get to the north gate, the better.
The streets are very dark. I can barely see Mr. Robert, who is in front of me. John is just behind us with Tyna. Veitz is leading the way. We try to walk close to the buildings the whole time. Every time we have to walk across some other alley, we stop and observe and make sure that no one will see us. We haven’t met or heard any soldier since we left the house, but we must be careful all the same.
It seems that they really gave up on searching for us for today. This is good. I was very scared at first, but now I’m thinking this might really work.
Mr. Robert stops in front of me. He crouches down and I do the same. Is there someone here? I stop and try to listen. I hear footsteps. And voices. Two different voices from an alley nearby that crosses this one.
I look at Veitz, who is in front of Mr. Robert, only his silhouette visible in the darkness. He stops at the corner and pokes his head from behind the wall. With his back to us, he puts out his hand and lets it linger in the air for a moment. My chest aches and I realize that I’m holding my breath. I exhale, not paying attention to the white smoke this time.
Veitz stretches out two fingers. Two soldiers?
The sound of the voices gets louder. They are getting closer.
“I’ve been looking for them for twelve hours now,” a soldier says to the other.
“This is stupid,” the other soldier says. “We will never find them in this darkness.”
We are very near the corner, so there is a chance that they will see us. I wait for some instruction from Veitz telling us to go back, but he doesn’t say anything. He’s completely still, without moving a muscle of his body. I look over my shoulder at John and see that he’s crouched down, completely still as well. He nods slightly, as if reassuring that I should trust Veitz.
The soldiers are very close now.
“Don’t you think it’s weird that we are looking for three Jorks?” one of them asks.
“Yes,” the other replies. “But it’s Noldik’s orders. I don’t want to be the one to argue.”
They are just around the corner. I can hear their heavy footsteps very clearly. Even though it’s cold, a drop of sweat runs down my face.
We stay crouched down, leaning against the wall, concealed by the shadows. If they turn right into this alley, they will see us for sure. They will be right in front of us. If they turn left or keep on walking straight, they will probably not notice us.
They walk past us. Two very tall and strong soldiers, armed with swords and carrying a bow and a quiver of arrows. For a fraction of a second, I have the impression that they might turn right, but they just keep on walking. We wait until they are far enough and start walking again.
“We lost too much time with that,” Veitz whispers. “We have to increase our pace.”
We try to go as fast as we can without making too much noise. It seems that Noldik didn’t give up on searching for us during the night completely. There are still a few soldiers walking through these alleys, looking for us. After several minutes, Veitz stops again. He turns to speak to us.
“We’re three blocks away from the gate,” he says, so low that I almost can’t hear. “We need to be very careful now. There are soldiers watching this area near the gate. We will have to cross one of the main streets of this part of the District.”
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