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Writings from a Shorthand
Chapter one
I paced.
the rock mountain, looming over me, covering me. I turn before I leave it's shadow and walked the other way, the small path I'm slowly digging into the desert ground is lighter than that of the dirt around. My thoughts are fighting a battle and the setting sun is turning everything a bloody red, where is he? That same question has been wearing a path in my brain and I can feel it wearing me down. I hear a bush rustle and a breath, it may be the wind, but I crouch next to the rock, reach behind my back and feel the leather bound handle of the knife in my waistband. I wait and hear sand being kicked up as someone runs, I wait and then lunge. I catch him by his throat, almost slitting it, but using a practiced hesitation I stop before I do; it's just Elijah. His eyes are wide with surprise, but other than that, his features are composed, bored even.
"You were supposed to be here hours ago." I lower my knife and slide it back under my waistband, "If I had known you would be this angry I'd come earlier, I was delayed." he replied, pointing at my hand where my knife had been. I rolled my eyes, there were too many of these "delays" for it to just be that. The girls in the border loved Elijah too much for him to handle
"Unless you have a signature after you, I don't want to hear about delays." It was his turn to roll his eyes, he knew that I knew where he was. But he never really spoke of it. But he knew that these meetings were important, many people depended on him, and many slightly different people depended on me. We sat down facing each other at the base of the huge rock, Sitting Indian style like this to each other reminded me of the stories my mother used to tell me about the people who used to travel grasslands like we did on horses and in huge teams, it always had seemed strange that people would travel like that, the memory of my mother slid down my neck and squeezed my throat.
"So...Has President Victor decided to send out fires yet? Has he decided to abolish sector 17?"
Elijah put up his hand. "I don't know much. The government seems to be have been clued in on how much is leaked out here. There shutting everyone up." I looked down at my hands, if I could I'd make them the size of the rock and run into the city and break everything and everyone. I didn't know how I'd carry over-sized hands though.
"I can't carry this back to them...They won't understand, riots have been exploding in markets, even talk of ambushing signatures." I looked up at Elijah, his face blank, it made me flush with anger until I saw his eyes. For such a nonchalant expression his eyes looked as sad as the ocean, they looked worn and wrinkled. The murky brown color made it worse, he was 17 like me, but looking in his eyes made me feel like a child again and as if he was ancient. I looked back down at my dirt creased fingers and let out a sigh, "I know your doing your best Eli...I just wish they could know that." He grabbed my index finger and I looked up to see him giving me a small smile, creasing the corners of his eyes and making a dimple show on his right cheek, "The whole world is mad at us Alder, one more country won't matter." I couldn't help but smile back, the small fact of him holding my finger like old times was enough to comfort me.
I heard a twig snap and jolted up, reaching back for my knife. Elijah already had drawn his pistol ready, I motioned for him to lower it. Any signature in a 50 mile radius would hear that if he shot it. A bush rustled louder than Elijah's had, this person wasn't skilled in the art of clandestineness. Whoever it was stopped and turned, they didn't know where they were going, but soon they did and came running towards us. at the last second I turned to peek out from the rock and grabbed the person and put my knife to their throat, they weren't as calm as Elijah however and jerked causing the knife to cut, they cried out and I immediately released them. It was dusk know so I could only see the outline of a short figure, it was obviously a girl from what I could see of their silhouette, I knew who it was when they spoke, "Geez Aldercy, you cut me. It's just me" it was a girl from my village, my sometime friend Holly. I rolled my eyes and wiped my blade on my pants leg, I whisper-screamed in her direction, "What are you doing here Holly?" I could see her cross her arms,
"You were gone a while...So I decided to come see if you had been taken...or killed..." or to see Elijah, I thought but didn't say aloud, it was the truth. The only time Elijah visited clans or villages is once a year, he is the official courier of news from the rebellion inside the city, so once a year he makes his rounds to everyone, not just me.It takes him about three moths so he keeps pretty busy. But ever since Holly met him she's been obsessed, even suggesting that she take up my position as a courier, in a round-a-bout way of course. She's sweet but foolish, the officials would never allow her to take my place, She's fit but a bit too voluptuous to be a match to my slight build, I'm faster and I've trained with weapons almost my whole life. She wouldn't stand a chance in the barren desert.
I could imagine Elijah's face, a clean smirk. It wouldn't be there if anyone could see it though, I move this procession forward "We were just finishing up, it's dark and we should be heading back." It's not a lie, but usually me and Elijah take a few minutes to talk personally not just about officially depressing news.
"But..what about..." I could see her trying to peer around me, dark as it may be, to see Elijah, Elijah just egged her on, "Yeah Alder, what about me? I can't fight off signatures and race through the big, lonely desert by myself." I gritted my teeth, this wasn't the time for playful banter, I could practically hear Holly swoon
"Well then we'll just have to hope this job he's had for seven years of running back and forth through the desert and fighting off signatures has prepared him for what may come this one noght." Holly puffed and Elijah chuckled.
An explosion lit up the dark sky and knocked me over to Elijah, I could feel heat sear my skin and smelled burning, Holly screamed and I nearly blacked out, "Alderecy, Aldercy!" I tried to look up but my vision swam and I could feel warmth trickling down my cheek into my mouth, "Oh God.", I felt myself being dragged to my feet and almost buckled in pain, I gasped, I saw fire everywhere in the bushes and on the ground, I knew what this was; signature fire. I snapped to, adrenaline pouring into me. My sight stayed still long enough for me to see Elijah supporting me looking down at me with concern I'd never seen before, it stopped me for a moment before I saw Holly on the ground, unconscious, fear poured into me and did the only thing it ever did to me; it made me move. I lurched out of Elijah's arm and winced in pain, but kept moving to Holly, I grabbed her up and almost yelled as I had to put my full weight plus Holly's onto my leg. I felt half the weight lift as Elijah took her other side,
"No Elijah, more signatures are coming, you need to get back to the city-" before I could say more there was another explosion a mere twenty yards away, we turned from it, I turned to Elijah, "I can do this, if they find out you've been working with the rebellion, they'll kill you!" Elijah set his jaw, "Then it's a risk I'll have to take, come one." he turned back towards the new flames that were littering the ground, growing, feeding off the oxygen in the air. I had to jog to keep up with his pace, I was choking on the fumes and I almost blacked out from the pain in my leg, I turned plenty of times to look for the small flood lights I knew would appear as the other signatures looked for their prey. It felt like forever but pretty soon we reached the black rock that marked the entrance to my village, Elijah let go of Holly to push the rock open a little bit more, he came back, I couldn't see his face well but I saw his eyes as they opened wide at what he saw behind me and Holly, I turned to see five sinister looking black shapes racing across the desert, floating inches above the sand, I gaped my mouth, "But..But they never come in swarms of that many..." Elijah swooped Holly into his arms and motioned me forward, I felt a twinge of something like jealousy at his attention to Holly, but I quickly dismissed it, and felt stupid; she couldn't even stand up. I moved into the space that Elijah had made between the rock and opening, it was dark, but I knew this cavern like the back of my hand, I made my way down, I knew Elijah knew it well enough not to get lost, I heard him grunt and scraping and knew that he sealed the entrance. I stumbled down the sandy floor their were dim chamber lights every few feet and I could see dark spots on the floor, my dazed mind thought they were spiders, my logical side said it was just dark spots, but when I stopped the darkness pooled and stood before the sand absorbed it like liquid.
Once I knew I was fairly deep, almost to the main cavern, I screamed out and collapsed, I wasn't rushed anymore and I could almost feel my blood chill in my veins as adrenaline dispersed. My leg felt twisted at such an odd angle and my neck felt sticky, the smell burned hair and blood filled my nostrilsI I saw lights in the distance and men yelling, I saw one persons face before I groaned and passed out, it was Elijah looking down at me.

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