This is Part 4 of my Describli-prompt inspired story. The ending to t his one has been re-written a couple of times. I think I hit on the right version in the end.
Part 5 next week.
If you wish to read, or re-read, the earlier parts of this story, check out the link in the menu above.
The Past, Part 4
“We’re on Earth?” Leo said. “We can’t be! Earth doesn’t exist anymore…” His words trailed off as realisation dawned. He leaned back against the wall. “Oh.”
Zinna’s expression didn’t change. She put her hands on her hips, a sign she was uncomfortable. “So how do we get back?”
The man was looking at them as if they had grown two heads apiece. “Where exactly are you folks from?”
“We’re not from around here,” Lena said. She glanced at Zinna’s exposed wings.
She would have to tell the truth and hope for a better reaction than the men on the ship. “We’re from the future.”
He gave a sharp bark of laughter, then a dead serious expression. “You’re joking me, right?”
He sat down in one of the wooden chairs. “The future? Is that how you explain…” He waved his hand at Zinna.
“No,” Zinna said, “I’m Brinnan.”
“An alien,” Leo elaborated.
“Oh.” The man looked like he didn’t know whether to laugh or cry. “Right. Of course.”
Lena had read of the first human encounters with beings from other planets. After so many centuries of scepticism, they found it hard to believe and accept. She felt for this man, but at the same time she was excited beyond words that she stood on actual Earth!
“If you just point us in the right direction, we’ll be out of your hair,” she said.
He looked at her as if she were crazy. “There’s not a town for miles. The ground’s covered in snow everywhere you look. You’ll freeze to death before you reach the nearest town ten miles away.” He looked unsure. “Unless you have some sort of technology that can zap you there in seconds.”
“No,” Lena said.
“Not with us anyway,” Leo added, earning him another glare from Zinna.
Lena was going to have to watch them when they got back. Trouble was brewing.
The man cleared his throat, clearly choosing to ignore Leo’s remark. “Well, then, I suggest you stay here tonight and I’ll take you where you need to go in the morning. Dusk’ll soon be falling. It gets mighty cold outside.”
Lena looked out of the small window by the door. Snow had started to fall, drifting down in feather-light clumps. He was right. It was suicide to go anywhere then, especially for Zinna. They would have to find a way to keep her warm if they wanted to go anywhere in this place.
The man found them extra furs and when they were all laid out on the ground, Zinna closest to the fire, the floor was covered. The fire was burning low, giving off a little heat, but not too much light. Darkness had fallen suddenly as they’d prepared the beds, and the temperature had plummeted with it.
Lena shivered beneath the heavy fur she was under. She had to make a conscious effort not to think about where it had come from and what it had once been.
Everything in her time was synthetic, humanity had grown beyond killing for what they didn’t really need.
Zinna’s breathing slowed and, as was her way, became almost imperceptible. Leo snored lightly, as did the man. He slept near the door, a spear by his bed. That worried her.
When sleep came she dreamed of strange shapes and rising water. She was swimming, trying to get to an island on the horizon. But it was always out of reach, the faster she swam, the further away it drifted. Frustration drove tears from her eyes. They mixed with the ocean and the water rose ever higher, until the island disappeared from view.
She woke breathing heavily, a cold sweat lacing her body. Orange light shone through the window near the door. Sunrise. A new day. Decisions to be made.
No one else was awake yet. Lena got up and walked carefully to the door, stepping over the man and his spear.
The door opened silently onto a freezing world of orange-tinted white.
But not orange-tinted snow.
Ice surrounded the cabin. The water must have risen during the night and frozen around them.
Her dream. There had to be a connection.
She closed the door on the cold and shivered in the relative heat of the cabin.
This week’s prompt was: The water rises.