Writing prompt: Part 3 of six-part series. Vivid descriptions, cliffhanger. 150-300 words


It took under a minute for Patina to hear the thundering boots coming down the tunnel. She took a deep breath, striving to stay calm as she “inspected” the rig’s boring mechanism. Stealing a glance over at Amrak, though, she knew they were doomed. The sweat was already running down his pale skin, and his face wore a look of sheer panic.

Two armed guards burst into the alcove where the pair was working a few seconds later, an unarmed woman striding behind them.

“On your knees!” one of the guards shouted at them. “Hands up!”

Amrak practically fell to the floor, babbling incoherently.

“What be trouble, offsir?” Patina asked, her voice low and her hands raised as she carefully sank to her knees. “We just be fixin’ our rig.”

The woman moved forward. “Were you now? It seems you did an awful lot of talking for ‘just be fixin’.” She used her Earther accent as if it were a slicing blade.

“We need talk how best to fix,” Patina responded, briefly allowing herself to make eye contact with the woman.

“Do you take me for a fool?” the woman demanded. “Do you know who I am?”

“No, ma’am. Yes, ma’am.” She looked down again. It was hard to think with the Mars Operations Supervisor there, let alone having weapons pointed directly at her. Amrak was shaking uncontrollably.

The woman moved over to the rock face and leaned casually against it, a contemplative look on her face. “So what am I going to do with you two troublemakers?”

“We no want trouble,” Patina offered.

“Silence! You’ve made quite enough trouble already.”

She turned to the guards. “I think they’d do well in the pit. Lots of people there, lots of noise and dust and debris. No time for talking. Why don’t you escort them to their new jobs?”

The pit. Miner’s hell. Patina swallowed hard as the guards pulled her and Amrak roughly to their feet, pushing them towards the tunnel. Life was changing, but not quite in the way she had hoped.

(c) 2017 Miriam Ruff All Rights Reserved