Series

 

Writing prompt: Part 5 of six-part series. Vivid descriptions, cliffhanger. 150-500 words

As the sounds of the blast faded, the din of hundreds of voices rose like a tide of white noise. But screams came through that noise from the injured, and Patina wanted to shut it out. She tried to take a deep breath, but couldn’t; the body on top of her was preventing her from moving. Before she could try to squirm her way out, though, it rolled off of its own accord. It was a man, tall, pale-skinned, with a face deepened by the scars of time. He looked at her with concern.

“You be okay?” he asked.

“I be shaken,” Patina answered him, “but I be fine. Thanks you.”

“Seen too many these things to want see another one hurt if could help it.” He extended his hand, and she grabbed it, pulling herself up to a standing position. “I be Hannor.”

“Patina.”

He looked about to say something more, but the guards were now moving through the workers. They had already assigned several people to remove the injured from the area and were checking the blast site to be certain it didn’t pose any additional risk. Once that was underway, they began prodding the remaining workers with their weapons.

“Back work. This not be holiday. We got quota.”

The workers grumbled and muttered under their breath, but they headed back to their jobs. For many, they had been through this process too many times before to try to do anything else.

Hannor reached over to grab Patina close to him for a second. Startled, she realized he was slipping something into her jumpsuit pocket. Then he was gone into the crowd, just another body. She desperately wanted to know what that thing was, but this wasn’t the place to investigate it. She would have to wait.

When her shift was through, Patina headed down the dimly-lit tunnels until she reached her compartment. She was covered in dust and grime and even a little blood, but that didn’t concern her at the moment. Instead, she walked the few steps to her bed, sat down, and slipped her hand into her pocket. There she found a small piece of paper. Pulling it out slowly, she examined it. On it was scrawled a room number and time. It didn’t take her long to connect the dots.

Patina had heard that there were actual meetings of people like her, people looking for organization and change, but she hadn’t had any idea how to find out more. Hannor was taking a big risk trusting her with such sensitive information, especially when every action was being scrutinized by the supervisors, but even in the “hush-hush,” word could spread quickly among the miners. Her transfer to the pit was probably the final tip off.

She looked at the paper again, memorized the information, then threw it in the recycler. Tomorrow. 1900 hours. Level 3 105A. She wouldn’t miss it for her world.

(c) 2017 Miriam Ruff All Rights Reserved