Across - Cover



Stranded. Alone. Breakdowns. Blowouts. It was all the same to her, had been for days. A crackling communication, a distant voice, or mind, it didn’t matter, anything would do.

“Hello,” was the first scratchy message.

“Where are you?” Joan asked.

“I am here. Where are you?” the other replied.

She thought, looked around for the hundredth time, then said, “I’m here… in this place,” no better description available.

“I wasn't aware here could be separated by such a distance.” The dusty speaker of her unit vibrated, circuits analyzed, bits and bytes chewed at both ends, colored quarks spun, some up, some down. “Walk toward the sunrise,” said the other.

Joan tightened the straps on her shouldered pack, walked, trudged across the sallow sand, came to a deep, dry crevasse, sat on the edge, waited. Parting her parched lips, she drank, watched the sun rise two more degrees in the cloudless orange sky. Far off, across the flat void, movement, a vehicle, or a large animal, a silhouette, a dust trail. Joan watched it come to a stop on the other side, small at that distance, back-lit, a blocky thing, dark, angular. A figure rose from the top, dismounted, a rider or driver separating from the bigger something. It waved an appendage, she squinted through the haze of heat.

Hopeful, Joan spoke into her unit, “How do I get to the other side?”

A few heartbeats, clock ticks. “You're already on the other side,” came the reply, then the disconnect click. The rider mounted, turned the beast-machine, moved further away into the here place, becoming a dot on the horizon, then gone.

The sun was higher now. A matter of perspective.