Miles turned and ran.
It was nearly the last thing he ever did. A flash from Kappy’s gun illuminated the switchback in front of him moments before he plunged over the edge.
He barely registered the drop as he turned and raced on, his fear propelling him.
In his mind’s eye he could see the metal surging up towards him, reaching for his feet. The crashing, grating shriek was so loud that his skin crawled and ached, waiting for the touch of scything metal. Continue reading
The street ended at a cement barrier and a warning sign. Beyond was nothing but darkness. An inky, sucking darkness that seemed to draw in the warmth of the world leaving air lifeless. Miles could feel the heat of the day radiating from the asphalt he was standing on, but from the ravine was only frigid air. Wind pulled at his back, clawing at his clothes, drawing him towards the darkness.
The sound of Kappy’s engine had stopped, but Miles saw that there was a dirt path leading down around the barrier into the canyon.
Shaking slightly, Miles walked twenty feet down the path. The tub was parked at the first switchback. It was apparently unable to make the sharp turn and had been left there, out of sight from anyone on the street above.
And it was empty.
They’d found some cheap rooms in a very seedy five story hotel. It stood crammed and narrow between two other buildings as if the larger buildings on either side had slowly crushed it over the years, squeezing the poor little hotel into its current vertical orientation.
A garage where they could park the Kappy’s tub and Miles’ tractor was more important than their rooms however, and this hotel had one. They’d kept the robot under the tarp and fortunately there weren’t any other vehicles in the garage. Miles doubted the noise of the robot’s turning wheel would attract any attention once the doors were closed.
The marketplace in Moughte
Kappy was lost and angry about it. She didn’t do well in cities. The cacophony of engines, voices and livestock jumbled together into a vibrating patchwork of color in her mind. She’d been trying to keep the jagged spires of a cathedral on her right, but they’d got turned around in this market. It’d been a mess of small shops and shouting people. It didn’t help that the ground floors of the buildings didn’t seem to be able to contain their upper stories and walls stuck out crazily, pressing in so closely above the road they nearly crowded out the sky. When Kappy and Miles had emerged from the maze of streets the cathedral was on their left.
After much thought and help from my wife I’ve settled on the name Lind for the character originally named Tolomy. There’s still a few locations that need new names, but with Lind’s final christening every character in The God of Anthem officially has a name.
I’ve been experimenting with watercolor pencils this last week and I did a quick sketch last night of the square next to Canon’s apartment building in Simmering (originally the District for anyone who read the first draft). I was going to add it to the post “Canon Meets Tolomy” that I posted last year, but at the last minute I remembered that I’d polished this conversation between Canon and Tolomy and it takes place on the bench as well.
Lind and Canon in Simmering District
“What are you looking at?”
The Black Car
The robot was spending the majority of his time riding in the tub and was very upset about it. He bumped anxiously against Kappy’s leg as she drove, trying to convince her that they should really be heading diagonally away from the road. Although they were surrounded by gently rolling hills and could have followed the robot easily on his desired path Kappy knew they were coming up on Moughte ravine and despite the robot’s optimism, if he dropped into the ravine he’d never come out.
The robot had actually only killed one person. The other had regained consciousness next to the body of his partner and panicked, managing to get the door open before he’d collapsed. The back of his head felt wet when he touched it and he’d pulled himself into the grass, standing after a moment and making it some distance from the road before he passed out again. The flames had missed him as they chewed their way across the field and the travelers had come and gone with their robot without disturbing him.
Kappy and Miles at the white truck.
Traveling grew monotonous after the stack. Kappy and Miles drove until the sun set, camped, ate, slept and drove again when it got light. It was strange, but Kappy seemed different to Miles, although he wasn’t entirely sure what had changed. She still didn’t speak much, but her bad mood had gone and at times she even seemed almost pleasant. Whatever it was didn’t last long, however, and around midmorning her expression was replaced with one of concern. She began climbing out of her tub and stomping back and forth across the road with her eyes closed, her forehead knitted in concentration.
“Are you having trouble seeing?” asked Miles after the third time this happened.
The rust stack at Washerwoman
Kappy woke grumpy the next morning and her mood only grew darker as the morning wore on. It had rained the night before, not one of the intense thunderstorms that often blew from the plains, but a steady drizzle that had made the night miserable and the morning cold and uncomfortable. The rain stopped before the sun rose, but water still dripped from everything. Miles was tired and shivering and didn’t feel like talking, which was probably for the best considering Kappy’s mood.
Kappy and the peddler
The squat little peddler surveyed the road from behind his haphazard table of merchandise like a king gazing over the kingdom from his castle wall. He turned and watched as the girl in the tub roared by in a cloud of dust. The tub compensated for its lack of speed with effort and enthusiasm and the sound of the motor pushed to its limit was deafening. The expression on the peddler’s red face didn’t change, but he watched with interest as the girl drove in a circle around the intersection, scanning the road in each direction, before rumbling back past the peddler on her way towards Hustle River.