Author: Rachel Sievers
Throwing shadows in the black of night and moving quickly under the heavy cloud cover we move over the rocky terrain. Fear of darkness is not an option anymore. A crevasse springs up and catches my shoe tip and I stumble. The ground comes up to meet me. I hope I will miss the sharpest rocks with my face.
My face misses but my hands do not. My companion, Dereck, I think that is his name, pauses and looks back for a microsecond before he moves on. There are no heroes anymore. Bonnie Tyler’s eighties hair and voice flash in my mind, if smiling was something humans did anymore I might have smiled at the image.
I pull myself up and continue in the dark, slower than before. A warm, wet tongue moves its way down my shin and I know I have sprung a leak on my knee. My hands might also be emitting liquid and I will have to patch them up before I make it to The Field of Reeds. The last safe spot on earth for homo sapiens.
Small rocks become boulders the closer we get. I make a small whisper and Dereck pauses. “Cleaning up before I get close,” I whisper to his silhouette.
I nod and he comes back and retrieves the pack from my back. Strapping mine to his front he turns without a glance backward. I watch him go. Then I am alone, like the early days when the Mesodinum were first hatching.
I pull on a button that holds a flap on my shirt closed and jerk out my med kit. A strict rule, punishable by exile, is no blood trails. I might have already come too close to The Field of Reeds but no one would know.
I clean the wound in the near darkness and patch it up with gauze and electrical tape. My hands, are shredded but not bleeding much, just gets a rinse. I look up into the cloud-filled night. The moon and stars blotted out in the inky dark. The perfect night for foraging.
Mesodinums aren’t afraid of the dark but they move much slower in it. Their power source, a cell that relies on photosynthesis, and thus the sun, is only at full power in the light. Full moons and starlight make them closer to human speed, but on nights like tonight, they are sluggish.
I stand and test the bandage for leaks. In addition to the Mesodinum’s love of sunlight, their bodies also take in energy sources from live sources, making them both abiotic and biotic.
A scuffle on the rocks behind draws my attention. I turn and see a single Mesodinum, the size of a soccer ball extending its long cylindrical tongue to the droplets of blood I have left. The creature licks and sucks the blood and I have no choice but to wait. Movement attracts them more than blood. When it has finished my offering to it, the Mesodinum saunters away.
I move backward, keeping my eyes on the spot where the creature disappeared to. Far enough away I break into a run. The encounter ate up all my time. The Field of Reeds seals the cave before dawn breaks. I was short on time before the Mesodinum. I pump my arms and move as fast as I can towards the entrance of the cave.
The Field of Reeds entrance comes into view with the first hints of morning. Coming close I know I am too late; the way is closed. I spin on my heels and look for a place to hide out from the coming sun. I shimmy into a nest of boulders and wiggle down deep as I can go. The boulders press in on all sides of me, keeping me safe from light and movement. I feel a small tug on my knee and pray the bandage stays in place. The sun breaks the horizon doing its best to burn off the clouds. From my hiding spot deep in the boulder, I wait for the cover of night. The first wet tongues of blood start to slide down from my knee at noon.