Wind Walkers: Stow Away

Wind Walkers: Stow Away

A Chapter by J.A. Marquez
"

Against her father's will, Bethany hides Gomez among the cargo. She tries to convince the chief that marriage isn't necessary.

"
Gomez and Bethany waited in the dusk for the cargo baskets to be loaded and secured. The chief would be the last to load up and leave as he had to oversee the camp. This was her window, albeit a small one, to save Gomez from a bitter end. When the cargo was secured and attention was drawn elsewhere, they made their move. As Bethany had suspected there was ample room in the food storage. It was the end of the cold season and they would be eating fresh game and roots until the next harvest. She helped Gomez to climb over the side and kept watch as he tucked himself beneath canvas bags part full with grains and salt. When he was sufficiently hidden, Bethany whispered a warning.

"You must go before we unload tomorrow. Will you need my help?"

The bags rose and fell slightly and then came his muffled response.

"I hate to admit it, but I don't think I can get out of here on my own."

"Okay," Bethany resolved, "I'll be here as soon as we land and then you have to leave as quickly as possible."

There was a grunt of understanding from within the pile. Silently Bethany slipped away, back to where her father was loading up their belongings.

"Where have you been?" He was angry.

"I'm sorry." A brief moment of panic surged inside of her. "I had to go."

She feigned embarrassment, folding her arms and dropping her eyes. The chief looked her up and down. Silently she hoped that he wouldn't see through her lie. By some miracle he went back to his work.

"Help me with these charts." He grumbled.

Obediently she began collecting the rolled tubes of paper in her arms. Among them were maps of the great nations, a history of the plague and even a brief history of the world before the blood hunters. The typed text had faded over time and was now a relic of the past along with the advanced technologies of their ancestors. There was no use for such things among the tribes. The hieghtened need for survival over comfort had antiquated them.

When the last of their supplies were loaded Bethany tucked herself against the wall and braced for the ascent. All that was left of the sunlight was a faint blue glow beyond the trees. Jonah untied them and soon they were gliding above the ground among their flock. Light gusts propelled them forward and upward and carried them above the trees. She closed her eyes and allowed the gentle rocking to calm her nerves. Somewhere ahead of them Gomez was being carried among the cargo. If there was a storm or they needed to travel more quickly then his balloon would be released and he would be at the mercy of the wind.

Chilled air started to pass over the basket and a draft blew back Bethany's ash blonde hair. She shivered against the cold and wrapped her quilt tighter around her. Clear skies stretched for as far as the eye could see in any direction. The chief maneuvered the balloon so that they were at the rear of the flock and always slightly below. At the beginning and end of each day they were the first to land and the last to leave as it was the responsibility of the chief to look out for his people.

So bethany watched the skies, the other balloons passing over her like strange clouds. It was the only way she could find comfort enough to sleep. Below them on the crust of the earth, blood hunters roamed free. Once she had dared to look down as they slowly rose into the clouds. Haggard bodies that resembled corpses trudged across the open land aimlessly seeking nothing more than to quench their thirst. They did not travel in groups or have any human quality to them apart from the mutilated skins that had once been living. It was the first and last time Bethany had seen them and she wished to keep it that way.

The wind picked up again and they were blown forward. Jonah adjusted the thrust so that they would be lifted no higher and propelled by the breeze alone. Then he too settled himself onto the floor.

"Bethy, are you still awake?"

Bethany did not want to speak to him.

"Bethy, if you're listening just know that I do care about you. I have to make decisions for the good of the tribe and one day you will have to do the same. Leading is not for those with weak judgement."

Repulsion alone nearly stirred Bethany, but she remained still.

"Tomorrow you will be eighteen. In a year I will decide if you're ready to take over." He took a long contemplative breath. "Bethy, if you can't reign in this willfullness - I won't appoint you."

Bethany tasted blood and realized she was biting her lip. Hot and angry tears wetted her eyes until they were spilling over. She knew she could be a good chief, but her father seemed to fear the change that she might bring.

"Caleb, now there's a born leader. He has much to offer for our people. With him at your side you are destined for greatness."

"I can be great on my own." She said through gritted teeth.

"Not with all of your wiles and whims. You will drive this tribe into the ground with your carelessness."

There was that word again. It seemed that Gomez was the only one who did not see Bethany's independence as frivolity. Even Lydia thought her to be childish.

"I only want happiness for my people. Is that so wrong?" Her voice was rising.

"When it puts those people in danger, yes."

"What is so dangerous about not wanting to be married or helping someone less fortunate?" The ice was cracking and she knew it, but she pushed anyhow.

"What if that man had been infected?"

"He's not!" Horror at the very thought choked her voice.

"He could be. I was not going to risk bringing a blood hunter among us. The devastation would be irreparable."

Bethany's heart leapt at the thought of Gomez alone beneath the grains, potentially incubating the deadly virus. The man who she had spoken to was healthy if not for his shot leg. Could he really have been a blood hunter? She shook the thought from her mind.

"No, he's not infected. You were scared. It was cowardice that made you leave him."

As her lips pressed down there was a shuffling of the blankets and a loud crack. Her ears rang and her cheek stung where her father had slapped her. She touched her own slender hand to her reddened cheek and let out a single defiant yelp. This was not the first time she had provoked him, but the pain was just as fresh.

"I hate you." She whimpered, tucking herself beneath the old quilt.

Jonah shook out his hand and sat back.

"Silence. Tomorrow you are not to step foot on the ground. Let the isolation humble you before it's too late."

Inside she was screaming, raging at her father for his pig headedness. She squeezed her eyes shut and let herself cry. It was juvenile, but there was no other way to free her emotions. Each sob was a release and gradually she dozed. The balloons drifted on into the night protecting the wind walkers and carrying them to the safety of morning.


© 2015 J.A. Marquez


Author's Note

J.A. Marquez
Written on phone.

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Featured Review

Can't wait to read when there's more. The characters in your story have a very natural flow to them and their personalities are very well defined. That alone makes your story seem fresh and interesting. I'd love to see how Bethany's relationship s with the other characters unfolds in the future.

Posted 6 Years Ago


1 of 1 people found this review constructive.

J.A. Marquez

6 Years Ago

Thank you! I am interested, too. She's full of surprises.



Reviews

Can't wait to read when there's more. The characters in your story have a very natural flow to them and their personalities are very well defined. That alone makes your story seem fresh and interesting. I'd love to see how Bethany's relationship s with the other characters unfolds in the future.

Posted 6 Years Ago


1 of 1 people found this review constructive.

J.A. Marquez

6 Years Ago

Thank you! I am interested, too. She's full of surprises.

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Added on April 3, 2015
Last Updated on April 14, 2015
Tags: dystopia, fiction, adventure, coming of age


Author

J.A. Marquez
J.A. Marquez

South Lake Tahoe, CA



About
If you want to know who I am, read my stories. Many are works in progress, and many are just a few sentences, but each one is a piece of my soul. more..

Writing
Unbroken Unbroken

A Story by J.A. Marquez