So, with almost no consideration required after the past week, I'm postponing starting my science fiction novella. It's setting has the backstory of a plague that reduced a multi-planet civilization to near extinction, and the backstory includes the resulting politics in that galaxy. It doesn't seem like a story for the pandemic and protests occurring on our planet. Daion Echoes through Transglass will get released, but right now – today – is not the time for it.
Instead, starting today is my short, off-beat horror story about a girl and a... dog? Sure, we'll call Dog a dog for this sentence I'm pretending is a teaser blurb. Check out Part 1 below! :)
I haven't done any writing this past week. And not much reading. I've been doing a lot of listening, and a lot of watching. Black lives do matter, and the systemic changes to create equality in policing and society are, at the moment, very sadly radical to a lot of policy makers. These systemic changes for equality and against brutality are needed, and are needed everywhere. They're needed there in the USA, here in Canada, and globally so that governments, institutions, laws and justice see people.
Black lives matter.
Linkly flew down the sidewalk, ponytail bouncing above a scrap of satin fabric she’d tied on as a cape and could flap like wings. The shifted sidewalk pavement jutted up half a neighbor’s yard away and Mom yelled after her to be careful. Her new glasses gave her clear and crisp bird-vision, though, and she flapped up and over the stumble spot without slowing down at all. She spun around at the corner by the crosswalk and dramatically stared down the rough concrete, her sharpened gaze defiant and towering far atop yesterday’s skinned knees and scraped palms.
It was like that with every new pair of glasses when she was little. The world would jump into focus for weeks and the genetic disorder taking her sight would be held off for months at a time. Then the crisp edges would fade into blurs. At most it took a year until the new glasses would simply change what she saw from a solid blur to shaped blurs and she’d be back to tripping on the juts made by tree roots under the old pavement. That’s when the tests would start again, and then the wait, and then another new pair of glasses would arrive.
One day, after all the tests, her mom had held her hand as they’d gotten the news there wouldn’t be another new pair of glasses. They decided to try the operation, but it hadn’t worked as well as the doctors hoped. Her last pair of glasses worked again for a few months and then everything just blurred away. When she got her cane, people her age on the bus would talk as if she wasn’t there about how they’d just die if they couldn’t see colors or put together their own outfits in the morning (as if I need help getting dressed, Linkly thought; she chose her clothes and dressed herself every morning... such a ridiculous assumption). She’d get jostled or knocked down while waiting for the subway by those folks who wanted to prove she was faking, and men who smelled like the wrong end of entitlement would pass by closely so they could whisper gross things at her.
Finishing high school was a blessing. Linkly had always loved running, but using the school treadmills during the required PhysEd class was a lesson in tolerance due to the same bullies who sat too close and purposely talked too loud about her on the bus. It was a sigh of relief that lifted cinderblocks off her shoulders to be waiting outside the school office for her grandmother after her last exam, knowing she’d never have to come back to this building.
Gran had laughed about Linkly’s freedom dancing in the car, asking carefully if her granddaughter believed that all the ‘isms’ from school would disappear now that she was away from those bullies specifically. Linkly had laughed about that, assuring Gran that she was well aware there would be more.
“But, it won’t be those ones,” she’d added with a grin and an eyebrow wiggle that made Gran laugh.
Instead of driving home that day, Gran had turned off onto a new road and then gotten secretive about the destination. As Linkly fantasized out loud about a possible early dinner at a new restaurant, Gran only hummed along with the radio – badly, as was her habit – and refused to give any details about where they were going.
Linkly choked back a sob as the memories washed over her. She and Gran had gone to meet Bailey that day. Mom had taken the afternoon off work and was waiting at the Center for Service Animal Training when they’d parked and gotten out of the car. Linkly had used her cane and Gran’s arm to get over to the front doors and her mom had whispered ‘surprise’ after wrapping Linkly’s hands around the sides of Bailey’s head.
Seven years ago today, Bailey had become Linkly’s eyes, friend, and companion. She only knew the matted and sticky carcass was Bailey because of the distinctive collar tags with both regular stampings and braille.
This trip was supposed to have been fun. A week at a resort, away from work and university, so that she could enjoy some down time. Some beach time. This part was only a one-day bus trip and hike through the jungle to experience wildlife. The concierge at the hotel’s front desk had assured her the trail was easy and – with Bailey along – she wouldn’t have a problem with the terrain. Besides, he’d added, she’d probably enjoy the birdsong.
There weren’t birds singing anymore. Every normal sound had been replaced with leaves shaking and claws shifting their grips on stones and branches. The birds were hiding, silent, and waiting for the danger to pass. Far away, the quietness of the jungle provided only a few wordless cries from other hikers who’d run in all other directions. Everyone on the tour had been scattered between the thick trees and clinging undergrowth.
Something rustled nearby and a low chuckle told Linkly clearly that the unexpected animals who’d scattered the hiking tour had circled back and found her. She fell away from what had been Bailey, scraping her palms on the same rough earth that was soaking into her pants.
“Hey, little blind girl,” the sing-song voice attached to the chuckle called. “It looks like you need a new dog.” Multiple laughs joined the first, their whispers and jeers underscored by a growl that rumbled like distant thunder through the ground and set her body shaking.
She jerked back from the sudden crunch of undergrowth. The growl became a roar as four feet drummed down into position for a final lunge. Those were the same sounds that Bailey had died under. Linkly threw her hands protectively up and out toward the beast now coming for her. Unhelpful, her thoughts whispered as if this will help…
A weekly blog updating on Saturdays with quick personal blurbs about me, as in what's going on during my life as an Author and mom, and that doles out my short stories and novellas in bite-sized parts for everyone to read for free!