The boy was still shaking several miles later. He couldn’t help himself. The fear was gone, but his body was pumped so full of adrenaline that the shaking remained. He’d seen gun fights before, but never anything like that.
Taggen was two long days away. The road they were following cut its way through the landscape, winding around hills and down through canyons. As the hours passed the landscape continued to change. The trees lining the road were larger and healthier looking with less bare branches and more foliage.
It was night and the storm had arrived. The same wind that had danced through the grass the day before now tore across the landscape in a frenzy. Waves of rain followed, carried by the wind, beating the grass flat. The branches of trees whipped back and forth, occasionally shining white in the darkness, illuminated by flashes of lightning.
The lightbulb’s filament glowed softly red, then suddenly flared to life in a flash of light.
The girl sat bolt-upright in bed, her hair a mess, fumbling for her glasses. The bed had an old rusted frame and an even older mattress. On the mattress sat a small wooden box with two lightbulbs screwed into the top and wires coming out the sides. The bulb on the left was shining brightly.
It was also being watched. On a distant hill there stood a girl with binoculars. The lenses were focused on the small machine as it rolled through the grass. After a while the girl lowered the binoculars and closed her eyes, tilting her head slightly as if she were listening to something. Her unkempt black hair blew across her face, but she paid it no mind. She was so still that anyone watching might have thought her asleep.
The Stalwart Machine
A hard wind blew over the grass. Although the sun was shining, a film of cloud in the high atmosphere made the sky chalky white. The scrub-brush hugged the protective curves of gentle hills, hunched bushes with upper branches bleached smooth in testament to the perpetual wind. This same wind waded through the grass, leaving a wake of flowing patterns that writhed and disappeared, only to come to life again elsewhere as the blades bent and turned.