Huge by Christian Bravery
When : Where
Unknown : Unknown
Showla lifted the hat from her shaded face and sniffed. The fresh, clean air of the plains held a tinge of corruption she had never detected before. She sat up slowly, willing her sun-warmed limbs to life. From atop the squat hillock, she could survey her herd grazing languidly on the grassy plain below, and far in the distance she could make out her Keepers circling in the cloudless sky, ensuring that none of the herd strayed.
Far to the south, just over the horizon, a discrete column of black smoke drifted and dissipated in the prevailing winds of early morning. Black smoke. That was odd. The only other occasion she had seen black smoke was from the volcano many days journey to the northeast, but that volcano had not been active since she was a small child. Showla looked through the eyes of one of her Keepers hoping that its soaring height and superior vision would allow her to see over the horizon. It didn’t. She had to investigate.
With a thought, Showla ordered her Keepers to move the herds back to the village. She set the wide-brimmed hat on her head and started down the hill with purpose, the end of her staff making rapid swish, swish sounds through the tall grasses and wildflowers as she swung it to match her gait.
Far to the south, just over the horizon, a discrete column of black smoke drifted and dissipated in the prevailing winds of early morning. Black smoke. That was odd.
When the sun was low in the sky Showla could, at last, make out the source of the corruption. Several miles away was a silvery beast that dwarfed the landscape surrounding it. From it spewed noxious black fumes and a din of chaotic noise so raucous that it was hard to endure even at this distance. The size and unnatural aspect of the beast caused her to want to flee back to her village.
But she stood transfixed by what she saw, the ground trembling beneath her feet.
It’s moving, she thought to herself. How can something the size of an entire village move?
She tore off two thin strips of cloth from her skirt, balled them up, then stuffed them into her ears in an attempt to attenuate the screeching and roaring that was rolling across the plains. Wrapping a thicker swatch of cloth around her nose and mouth she set off at a trot to investigate further.
Reaching the crest of a hill her progress was stopped short by a gaping chasm that she knew was not part of the natural terrain. A series of these chasms now scarred the plains, fully fifty feet deep, and at least double that in width. She traces the scars to the feet of the beast that was now only a mile away, slowly crawling towards the mist-shrouded mountains in the distance.
“This is no beast,” she muttered. “It’s some sort of mecha. Time to see who controls this abomination … and where it comes from.”
Showla closed her eyes and sent the Keeper she’d brought with her in the direction of the invader.
Words © 2019-2021, Neal Ulen. All rights reserved.
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