Exerpt from the upcoming novel: Tangerine
Paperback: coming soon
e-book: coming soon
A shadow loomed over him. Pisk raised his eyes. "Look," he said.
“I’m looking,” Ava said softly, amazement lighting her features. They were surrounded by a group of silent bovines, larger than Earth giraffes, but delicately fashioned like deer. Covered in long silky auburn hair, they grazed peacefully, their delicate ears the size of dinner plates and wispy as gauze. Their approach had been ethereal, as if they had suddenly materialized. Ava resisted the urge to stroke one of the animals and settled instead for photos and vids. She pulled her cam from its cord around her neck and began filming. The animals were indifferent to her and Pisk. They moved to the stream and began drinking deeply, barely disturbing the water with their long, hollow, spoon-shaped tongues. Ava and Pisk watched as, in unison, the herd turned their heads and fanned their ears in a listening pose. The next instant they were gone, racing and leaping across the plain like colossal gazelles.
“They’re beautiful,” Ava said breathlessly. “I wonder why they ran away.”
She and Pisk stared after them, admiring their bounding dance over the swaying grasses when a warning screech was wrenched from Pisk’s throat, a primal sound born of instinctual fear.
“Run! Flee!” he cried, and leapt toward the skimmer. Ava turned to see a great winged creature zooming down on them from the sky, its body that of a huge insect, its shrill drone piercing her ears. She scrambled into the skimmer and powered up. They were airborne in seconds.
“Shields,” she screamed, just as great insect pounded into the side of her craft and knocked it into a wobble. She overcorrected, and the small raft skipped roughly over the field like a stone over water. Swift as beacon the monster turned and flew toward them again, its mandibles opening and closing like jaws of death. Ava leveled the skimmer and went into evasive maneuvers, but the insect matched her move for move, swooping for the craft again and again.
Ava activated the discharge field just as the thing rammed them again, zapping their attacker with high voltage when it made contact with the shields. It sizzled, twitched, and fell dead on top of the craft, its weight dragging the small skimmer down with a hard thud and thrusting it into a wild scoot along the surface. The skimmer tore through the tall grass before slamming into a small rock formation. The monstrous insect was flung from the skimmer and came to rest several yards further on, flopping into the meadow like a huge bag of sand.
Copyright 2010 Wodke Hawkinson. All rights reserved.
Keyboard photo by Petr Kratochvil
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