Sunday, 20 June 2010

And the wheel keeps turning

The cartwheel rolled off the rubble of the track road, bouncing as it tumbled down the embankment, before circling to a stop and falling slowly over on to one side.

Soloman cursed his luck and cursed the ban that prevented him from using mechanical transportation. Looking around him, seeing nothing in the flat distance covered with crop yielding fields, he smiled to himself and performed a tiny act of rebellion. With a twitch of his wrist he switched on his personal forcefield and levitated himself down to the foot of the embankment. A few seconds of civil disobediance. He reached the bottom of the slope and switched off the field, looking around guiltily, waiting for 'them' to come and find him. As if he were the worst of their problems.

The wheel was useless, he could see that now, several spokes were completely broken, sheered right through as if by a laser. Soloman's heart sank as he realised that this had been no accident.

So here he was, several miles from the nearest village, much further than that from home, with no quick means of transport and an unknown enemy. He daren't use his hidden technology. A few seconds was one thing, but using it for a prolonged time would surely bring the attention not only of the Enforcers but also of the Others. No. That was something he would have to save only for real emergencies.

Soloman struggled his way back up the steep embankment, using his stubby fingers to grasp clumps of tough grass, and dusted himself off as he reached the road. There was still no-one else in sight. The sun was dipping towards the horizon, the dusk was not far off.

Behind him the rough track of the road stretched back towards the far off market place, a flat field of dirt where the local farmers would congregate weekly to barter and swap their goods. It was unlikely that anyone would remain there now. All the farmers knew better than to linger when dusk was approaching.

In the other direction the road also stretched out with no sign of habitation as far as Soloman's squinting eyes could see. But he reckoned that his neighbour's farm was about five miles off along the road, his own farm another five miles beyond that. He looked again at the position of the sun. Fives miles. He might be able to make that in time.

With one final look back down the road towards the market, where someone had seered through the narrow wood of his cartwheel, Soloman gathered together his meagre supplies and set off towards the distant horizon. To one side of him a dust storm blew up, whirling the dry particles in a vortex of short-lived energy, but Soloman did not see it. He was already counting the strides towards his destination. Hoping that he would make it in time. Trying not to think about what might happen if he did not.

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