The Aeronaut’s Dream: pt. 11

(I have special news this week- scroll down after the chapter to read it!) 

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Alix fell.

The light shards broke around her, tumbling over each other into the void, dissolving into dust. Without the arcs of jagged colour, everything around her was hued in dusty sepia- except the glowing lio.

She heard static, like a radio turned to a dead channel. Voices broke and scratched around her. The words gabbled meaninglessly, but she picked out a few, they all jumbled together.

“I’m sorry, your son- can’t help but wonder- spinal structure’s interesting-
WORLD RECORD, first man to- within the next year- is it really a- fly across the Wild Sea alo- doctor says it- faces change, people sta- we may have an artificial heart-”

She squinted, trying to block out the sound. The lio was yards away, and it only drew closer as she fell. If she didn’t grab it, she’d fall right past.

“Alix-”

It was her mother’s voice, in the gabble of static. Distorted, crackling, but it was her, clear as ice. Alix froze.

“Run. Don’t look back.”

It was the last thing she’d said to Alix before she — before–

The lio fell past Alix. It cast a long shadow as she tumbled down. Alix reached for it, too late- grasped at nothing.

“Nv-” she started.

Another spark of lio shone beneath her- in front of a thing which was and was not a person.

It was like the shards- flat as a pane of glass, cobbled together from shreds and patches of light. One eye sat slightly below the other, and its arms and legs stuck from its torso at strange angles.

Lio pulsed out from it in waves, and disappeared almost as fast- like lightning striking aimlessly, over and over again.  Alix’s eyes followed it.

The lio lit up ground beneath her. It was transparent- thin as black ice- but it looked solid. She braced herself.

“Alix-” Nvara said.

“Found the lio. Pull me out on my count,” Alix said.

She landed on all fours, and reached out for the lio.

The creature stared at her. Its eyes were glassy. She scrabbled back.

“Three.”

Its twisted hand grabbed for her face, long glass talons unsheathing from its knuckles.  The lio slipped between her fingers.

Alix dived away and landed, hard, on her elbows. Throbbing pain arced up her arm. She staggered to her feet, and grabbed again – lio dust coated her palms and forearms, glowing even through the goggles.

“Two-” she gasped.

The creature’s neck lengthened, curving around itself like a corkscrew. Its mouth opened, but its head was flat- it looked like its head was tearing apart at the side. It stretched to an impossible length, bending over Alix. Its jaws cast a long shadow- a shadow broken by many sharp teeth.

“One!”

The electrodes ripped from Alix’s head, ripping her hair. She tore the goggles off and gasped for breath. Specks of pale lio glowed on her gloves.

Blankets rustled. Alix flinched back towards the wall. A shadow rose from the bed.

Vashe shouted, “He’s awake! Run!”


Running With Rats updates biweekly on the second and fourth Friday of every month. 

If you liked this post, and want to support my writing, consider donating to my Patreon?   For the price of a cup of coffee, you can get bonus content, worldbuilding notes, and free books.

SPECIAL NEWS: The Unicorn’s Beard, my latest short story, is available for pre-order now on Amazon and Smashwords! It’ll be available for purchase on the 28th, and- of course- Patreon patrons will receive a free copy. 

Sawbones, a wandering veterinarian, is forced into the service of the queen. They must use their knowledge of goat diseases to cure her sick unicorn- or it’s off with their head. Can they discover what’s wrong- and can they save the Queen’s pet from Her Majesty? 

Thanks for reading! 

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