(a short short for 1,000 prompts Amazon Contest)
By Nancy Louise McCormick-Kovacich
A somewhat loud sniff made her stop, she realized she had made the noise. She hastily wiped her face of tears and snots. Carefully putting the tissue in a pocket that process the bio matter into energy to run the suit.
“Get a grip, the information must be design to test my training.” Then she had to pause. All she and her brother ever did was scout the abandon shipping crate area left over from the meteor shower wars. Well, some kids called it the war, sure looked like it in the ID-vids.
The streaming information in her right perennial vision was distorted. On her left was the low battery warning she been ignoring, she tried to remember if the back up was charged. Shaking her head vigorously seemed to help. No matter all the denials by neuron-specialist who put such things in selected people. Field work always brought out the kinks and sometimes the junk moves people did to fix it on the fly. That why they had the two of them doing this, working out kinks so other little kids got better upgrades. I mean they were poor and brown skin, so they had a way to pay for the tech that help them see and hear. Seemed fair enough of a trade.
A headache was forming and there was no pain dampener. No surprise with her head shaking, doing the dang every few moments. She shifted her shoulders a bit, testing the padded back pack. In it contained two precious packages weighing twenty stones heavy. It also bulged and made it hard to to keep it from being shot at. Who was shooting? The package was not that precious. Maybe draco drug eggs or something be worth the animo. Heaving a quiet mental sigh, she shook her head again to adjust the sensors. Tying her two long pigtail into a square knot in the back, she darted across the under path of the old freeway again.
Midway, bright sunshine of a cold winter day, like in a cathedral or forest sacred spot. she wait a bit to adjust the vision of the ‘ruins’ as locals called it. Nothing grand about this dump though. Being in the noon day, a shaft of light shown down between the old freeway over pass. Never mind that it was really summer, winter had gripped most of the planet since the meteor wars. It was going to take a generation, so the speeches said, to get back some normal weather. Mostly the metal shipping crates that had been set up for emergency homes. It was still not known what had crashed in the Ort Cloud years ago, sending a slew of rocks through out the solar system. It was found that while not everyone could get underground, freeways and reinforced buildings were able to provide some small protections for those that could not access to the underground. Metal objects caused her sensors to work over time trying to sort out all the details, perfectly damned, many hiding places.
Sensors, such as they were, showed the area was clear.
“Humph” was her response. It only meant it was clear of animated bio matter, not much more. Anyone else suited up like her, could send false signals. She touched a tab on her jacket of her own military inspired design. Helped to color/mask her body sounds, scents, and wear. Sometimes help, sometimes made her look like a dumb clown. Her dark figure crept, she stumbled from a ground depression. Took every nerve not to scream out in pain from her displaced hip. Never did heal right. She became very quiet. There, sound wave map showed movement being alerted and moving closer to her.
Five hundred feet to get out of here, but nine hundred to back track. Pushing ahead seemed the best efforts. She could see the house, vivid yellow Victorian festoon with painted roses and gold painted Flour de lis and gingerbread scrolls all over. A bastardized version of a five designs, from three hundred years ago. Put up by none other than her Mom and tolerated by everyone else. It stood out like a crappy thumb some neighbors said, but to herself, it was a sign of something honest and real glorified nature. Did anyone remember simple nature anymore? That was the biggest reason she came here, she loved to find plants struggling to survive here, and dug them up to put them in their own garden.
Not today though, those shots taken at her could ruin the package. She had to get the package home, everything depended on it. Not to mention her hip. Using some touch methods, she slightly numbed her hip so she could at least stand or move it. Taking another trail, she quietly climbed the side of metal crate she been hiding behind. Foot holds found using gecko tech turn on by her suit. She dare not go top side, that would bring her in full sight, instead she simply crept along the side. Then with turbo jumpers she leaped to the next one and with practice ballet training, landed softly. She check her nutrients, just as she was afraid of, the work was taking most her metallic elements. She pulled out a chew of digestible energy and drank from her bio fluid pack. Nothing tasty, just basic food, in other words, yuck. Checking the left sensors again, it suddenly blinked out.
‘No!’ a panicked whispered, deaf and blind as at birth. A sense of smell and touch she was born with, was still hers. She slowed down her heart, remembered what she saw. Then with a leap of faith she went ahead and scampered the next four crates, feeling at least one dazzle dart hit her arm and near the package. Others were streaks of angry heat as they passed by, over and even under her at times. Then she entered out into the open and sunshine, where normally, such activities cease, for fear of alerting the authorities. Within moments by solar recharge, she got some of her basic survival senses back.
“You idiot.” she cussed herself, forgetting to reboot again last night, “geeze.” She grabbed her crippled hip and limped home. The stairs were too much, so she took the external ‘vator to the back entrance kitchen. She knew she was filthy but she wanted her mom to get the package.
“Kathy! Oh dear god, you playing “Catch and Snitch” again? That game going to get you more banged up than when you were born you child. Now, my flour?”
She reached into her back pack and pulled out the two bulky packages she carried home. Proudly showing her Mom. Mom however made a face with a look of ‘oh dear’.
“You got Presto-Sugar and Wheat/Rye flour. Great for pancakes, pasta, beer making, but not so much for sugar cookies for the party.”
“But the sensors….” Kathy started then stopped, and she felt a breeze as she brother came in.
“Hi Mom, here ya go. I saw clumsy here getting the wrong stuff so…” Kathy shoved her face into his.
“Blaze Darts, it was you, whatever!”
“What? No I was protecting you!”
“My jacket got a scorch mark.”
“No I didn’t, I mean, uh….”
“Markus Wallaby Johansen, you did NOT tag your sister with that!” Snapped Mom.
“Uh, well, uh. Maybe by accident?” He shrugged, tried to look like a sweet three instead of thirteen. Mother was not mollified.
“OK, both of you are grounded. Kathy charge down to basic sensors and power up your batteries please. Mark, the same. Now scat, get out of here, I got cookies to make. Go on, shoo!”
Marked signed “what is wrong?”
“Mom is accused of being a spy, maybe Dad too.”
“I know, so who was shooting at me? Those were live darts.” Mark checked the scorched jacket and sniffed it.
“Professional, not homemade either. Mom, coming, we need to get under now.”
With practice in each of their rooms they striped down to their basics and laid on the bio-operated beds. In quick sequence, they were deeply asleep. They never heard their muffled yell from their Mother, nor saw the troops enter the house and incased them in coffin like cases.
“Transport ready captain.” said one solider.
“No my Babies!” their Mother cried out.
“You are a traitor to your country.” spoke the Captain.
“What? What are you talking about.”
“The price is your children are now scripted to be send to the Ort Cloud for classified work.” Just as quickly she was injected and slumped.
Take her and her husband to security. They have high skills we need. Killing would be a waste.