Nowhere to Ride- a short story

Written in response to The Haunted Wordsmith’s Daily Prompt, May 6th. Prompts 1-3

“And there’s the sirens.”

“You know, it would help if maybe you could be a little more optimistic,” he craned round to check how close our pursuers were.

“I’m sure they are going to catch us,” I replied. He couldn’t see my smile due to the scarf wrapped round the lower half of my face to stop the dust filling my mouth. Despite the bikes not actually touching the ground, the propulsion system generated enough disturbance to kick up one heck of a cloud. My right hand gripped the handle bars tightly as I ripped my left up to clear the lens of my goggles as fast as humanly possible. The bike still wobbled.

“Cheerful ain’t ya,” my companion shook his head not looking ahead at the terrain nearly enough for my liking.

The sirens were getting louder. “How close?”

“Somewhere between slowpokes and have you got a good lawyer,” he laughed. I resisted the urge to reach across and push him off his bike. Mainly because that would involve me taking my hand of the handles again. “So what’s this job you need me for?”

“Really? Now?” The ground got rocky and I had to bring the bike further up to make sure I cleared it; that caused a bigger cloud of orange dust to be kicked up. The solar rays from the twin suns still managed to penetrate through the fog and make me squint. I glanced across. He was staring at me, waiting. The man was insane. I took a calming breath. I couldn’t quite believe the boss had sent me to this godforsaken place to get this hulking idiot. His skin was red and coarse; repeated beating from the dusty winds on this planet had toughened him up like an old rhino. He looked around fifty summers old but he could have been more or less. He hadn’t exactly taken good care of himself; the question was had he worn himself out or preserved himself?

“We’ve heard that you got in and out of Nebula Rising and lived to tell the tale,” I said, trying to ignore the increasing pitch of the sirens.

“Anyone who goes there is a fool,” his voice had hardened, he was more suspicious now.

“I agree. So did you go?” He didn’t answer me. His eyes turned back to the terrain ahead. As far as I could see there was just orange dust. The engine of the bike was shaking my eardrums beyond belief and I was reaching the end of my tether. “Where the hell are we going? There’s nothing in this wasteland!” I gritted my teeth, angry at my outburst.

“Your boss, you never told me who it was,” was all he replied.

“You know who I work with,” I sighed. I didn’t have time for this.

“I know stories, rumours,” he began.

“Then you know her. She is all those rumours, stories and more,” I cut him off.

“See that dip there?” he nodded ahead to a crater a hundred or so metres ahead. I nodded. “When we get there, dive down, they’ll never manage to follow us in the outpost.”

“Down?” I gripped the bike tighter.

“Yeah,” he grinned at me again. “And then you can tell me how much your boss is going to pay me for this job.”

 

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