Wind Walkers: (undecided)

Wind Walkers: (undecided)

A Chapter by J.A. Marquez

Missing the leg straining slopes of the mountains, or the unbearable cold in the dead of night seemed like an unlikely prospect to Bethany. By the time they reached flat ground, she was painfully aware of muscles that she had previously been ignorant to. Her groin ached, tensing with each stride of her taut legs. Aggravating her exhaustion, was the intense fire in her gut. All of their supplies had been confiscated, save for Gomez's secret knife, during their run in with the Red River tribe. They had no viable weapons, and no food. The deep furrow in Gomez's prominent brow hinted that this was the least of their troubles.

"Gomez?" She spoke to him over her shoulder, afraid to turn on the rocky decline.

"Bethany?" There was weariness in his tone.

"Why won't you tell me what's bothering you?"

"Bothering me?"

She sighed.

"You've barely said a word."

A pensive hum carried down to her.

"I'll tell you if it becomes a matter of life or death." He assured half-heartedly.

"Why can't you tell me now?" She badgered, with a peeved roll of her eyes.

"Because I don't want you to waste your energy thinking about it. That'll only make things worse."

He tested her patience. A loose stone rolled beneath her foot, throwing her off balance. Skidding over the chalky dirt, Gomez caught her from behind. Dust billowed in their faces, sticking to the sweat on their foreheads and necks. Bethany coughed, freeing particles that had been trapped in her throat. The smell of earth was inescapable.

"Woah, are you okay?" He stammered, steadying her.

"Fine, I slipped on a rock. It's so dry here." She panted and waved a hand in front of her sun burned face.

They had hiked for two days, traveling below the white peaks, across plains and over hills. Ahead there seemed to be little more than arid desert and tall golden grass. Bethany's throat had long run dry, and she feared that her body was soon to follow.

"When will we get to water again?"

Gomez's dark eyes sank.

"There's a river just south of here. We can follow it most of the way to the white coast, but -" His face contorted into a deep frown.

"But?" Bethany urged.

"There are several major tribes located along the river. The land is mostly barren, so they keep near to water for survival."

Bethany perked up.

"You say that as if it were bad."

He unwittingly stroked the back of his neck, with his lips parted in a forced smile.

"It is bad."

"Are they hostile?"

He shook his head.

"Not particularly - about as violent as the Wind Walkers."

Bethany ached at the mention of her former people.

"I fail to see a problem." She sighed.

"You...are the problem." He groaned. "These tribes are greedy. They may not be offensive tactically, but they have a habit of taking what isn't theirs."

"We have no supplies." She pointed out.

A faint rose color tinted his cheeks. It was a rare moment of vulnerability and it wordlessly explained to Bethany what she needed to know.

"You don't mean -" she chewed her lip.

His eyes met hers for a fleeting second.

"If they see you," his voice was distant. "I won't be able to stop them."

She felt as if flames were engulfing her body. Heat radiated from inside of her, and beamed down from above. The blanket scratched against her parched skin, leaving it irritated.

"Is there another way we can go?"

Answers escaped Gomez, at least any that he was prepared to share. He carefully stepped over a pile of rocks, and held her hand as she followed suit. They reached the base of the hill at a triumphant jog. Sparse trees were scattered between patches of wild grass and low rising shrubberies. A pale winged butterfly breezed past Bethany's head, landing on a single bloom. Faint whispers shook the plain, the cool air soothing her burning skin.

"Can we rest here? Just for a minute?"

Gomez didn't pay her mind.

"We have to keep moving. We're too exposed."

His strides were long, his knees high as he stepped through the brush. Bethany copied the movements, and they wound across the plain. Bethany was breathing heavily when she caught a whiff of smoke.

"Wait." She held up a hand for pause.

Gomez inhaled, his dark lashes woven together. They blinked apart, uncovering a widened glare.

"We're nearing a camp."

"Then there's water nearby?"

"Yes," he nodded slow, "but it there may also be hunters nearby."

Foreboding struck Bethany. An uncomfortable tickle between her thighs made her cringe.

"Maybe I should scout ahead." He murmered. "But that would leave you defenseless."

She scrunched her nose.

"Defenseless?"

He shot her a look that fell between apology and warning. She quieted, allowing him to collect his thoughts.

"If we could make you seem less feminine, then from afar they might not notice you."

The idea was crude, but held an air of adventure.

"I could cut my hair." She proposed with too giddy a trill.

Gomez eyed her.

"How do you suggest we hide the rest of you?"

She blushed and looked down at her curved chest and hips. She was not particularly voluptuous, but there was no denying her sex. An idea donned on her, and she began to untie the sheath of scratchy wool.

"Again?" Gomez groaned, sheilding his eyes.

"Give me your knife."

He withdrew the blade and placed it in her extended hand. She folded the fabric neatly in half and pulled it over the sharp edge. With a hard tug it ripped. Then she tore the hole so that it was big enough to slip her head through. The remaining material draped over her body, covering her down to her knees.

"You'll need to keep it closed at the sides." Gomez noted.

Bethany tore more holes into the edges of the poncho, then knelt in the grass. She plucked six long stalks and tied them off into two groups of three. Then she braided them into crude ropes. Her fingers moved skillfully in quick rotations. During her learning years she had spent much time braiding bracelets and head dresses with Lydia. They would adorn themselves in flowers and dry brush and dance in the safety of the common. Those days seemed so far in the past, even the memory was slowly fading.

"Tie the sides shut with these." She said, handing the finished twine to Gomez.

He threaded the blanket together, securing it with two firm knots in each rope.

"Do you want to do your hair, or should I?"

She handed the knife back, wincing as the metal tocuhed his skin. His smile faded. With a gentle caress he ran his fingers through the long, golden strands. Bethany closed her eyes and let the moment take her. She felt his hand brush the back of her neck, pulling the hair tight. Then she inhaled, there was a firm tugging on her scalp, and with a snap the thick bundle was freed. A single tear of strain dripped down her face, leaving a pink trail on her dingy complexion. The act itself felt far more difinitive than it had been in theory. Unexpected grief washed over her.

"There." Gomez touseled what was left of her fair locks. "But you're still too beautiful."

"I could rub some dirt into my face."

He chuckled and knelt low, scooping up a handful of dust. Then he spit into it and stirred the thick mud with his finger. He wiped it over her brow, deepening the appearance of her eyes. Then he painted her jaw and lips, shading in her most feminine features.

He stepped back to examine his work. An amused grunt escaped through his flared nostrils.

"What?" Bethany shrank into herself. "Is it that bad?"

Gomez shook his head and smirked.

"You're the prettiest man I've ever seen."

A deep blush shaded her cheeks. They were suspended in one another's stare for a long instant before the echo of distant drums rattled them back to the present. Bethany crouched by instinct, and scanned the arid horizon. A pillar of smoke blackened the sky several miles to the west. Anxiety crawled over Bethany's skin like a swarm of ants.

"It must be some sort of ceremony." She muttered.

"I won't be attending anymore of those."

Gomez retorted, resting his forearms on his knees. The thick canvas of his shorts was torn and frayed, stained with clay. The pockets held fast, but were secured by little more than a thread. The butt of his knife peeked through the hole that was once meant for a button. Bethany's eyes traveled down his sturdy bronzed legs. Scars of varying lengths and depths textured his skin, camoflaged by coarse winding hair. The balls of his ankles were chapped with dust that darkened his skin down to the thickened soles of his feet. His toes were flexed, balancing his weight in a meditative stance.

"Can we get around them?"

Bethany wondered, breathing in dry grass and red clay. Gomez closed his eyes as if visualizing an alternate route.

"We could travel further south, but it would take us miles off course."

"I'm sure there's more than one way to get to the white coast." Bethany speculated.

"Not that I can navigate without a map."

A sinking feeling weighed on her chest.

"Maybe, they'll let us pass without trouble?"

"I doubt it."

"We have nothing valuable. What reason would they have to stop us?"

The skyline was gleaming a brilliant pale blue. Bethany held up a hand to shade herself.

"After our last run in, I don't really care to find out."

"We could pass in the night." She proposed with weakened motivation.

He gave a pensive nod. Bethany knew it was a heavy risk. They both turned their heads to face the mountains that had nearly claimed their lives. There were fewer places to hide out on the plains. It was why ground tribes, especially plains tribes, built massive fires and high walls.

"I don't think we have another choice." Gomez conceded. "But we'll need a plan in case anything goes wrong."


© 2015 J.A. Marquez


Author's Note

J.A. Marquez
This is an in between chapter. There is little action here, as I spend a great number of words capturing the environment and the toll that the past few days have taken on each character. Also, I take some space here to develop the more intimate feelings between the characters. If you are reading for the sake of critiquing please offer whatever advice you can. If you are reading just to follow this story, bear with me if it's boring and if you have any suggestions I am more than open. Hang in there, more characters and action are coming soon!

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Nope... Its not boring. I like the story. And i can't wait for the next chapter :)

Posted 6 Years Ago


1 of 1 people found this review constructive.

I don't think this chapter is boring at all. I enjoyed the detailed descriptions and moments with the characters. I also liked how you set the stage for action in the next chapter.

Posted 6 Years Ago


1 of 1 people found this review constructive.

J.A. Marquez

6 Years Ago

Well, thank you! I appreciate it. The next chapter is in the works. I have been so busy lately, so i.. read more

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Added on May 7, 2015
Last Updated on May 29, 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..

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Unbroken Unbroken

A Story by J.A. Marquez