Across - Cover

Across

 

Stranded. Alone. Breakdowns. Blowouts. It became all the same to Joan, as it had for days. She ached for a crackling communication, a distant voice, or even a demon mind in the heat. It didn’t matter. Anything would do. She lowered her thoughts, raised herself up, scrutinized the break between land and sky, straining her squint for anything different.

“Hello.” A scratchy message from her radio.

“Where are you?” Joan asked.

“I am here. Where are you?” came the reply.

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

“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, 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. 

 

She watched as it came 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 something bigger. It waved an appendage. She squinted through the haze of heat.

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

A few heartbeats and silent clock ticks. “You're already on the other side,” came the reply, then a disconnecting 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.