I’m pretty happy with the way this one turned out and I’m excited for people to read it.
I’ve read about waiting until Wednesday so I can game the scores (evidently you want your story to pop on a Saturday morning for the most exposure). I don’t think it matters much in the long run honestly. One of the other stories went up to number one in the hall of fame over Thanksgiving but for some reason the score dropped throughout the day and I dropped below the horde of Etaski stories. (Seriously, how many stories from one series need to be in a list?)
So screw the scores, right?
Anyway, look for it soon. Below is a SFW teaser from the story:
“You will find Tessa at her father’s office and she will walk with you in the market and then bring you home. I can walk you there if you don’t remember where it is.”
“It’s right over there,” Eli said, pointing. “I don’t need to be carried.”
Anja put one of her hands on his shoulder. (Then I won’t carry you. I’m sorry, Eli. We must do everything we can to keep you well. It’ll be easier at home, I promise)
“I don’t want you to think I’m being an ungrateful ass,” Eli said. “I really do appreciate everything you have done for me.”
(I understand. You are very used to being alone. You’re sometimes a bit like a wilding eloisha yourself. I’ll see you this evening)
Eli smiled as there was a pulse of affection. Anja let go of him and jogged to a massive buttress root and ran along it, up into the lowest branches of the tree. Eli watched her until she disappeared into the branches, admiring Anja’s graceful movements. Then he turned and began to walk carefully toward the prefab building with the GalCom sign over the door. He didn’t know why the two of them were going to so much trouble on his behalf but he’d be a good patient for them.
The market was full of people today. When he’d first seen it, Eli had thought it was fairly busy but today the narrow streets were packed full of people. There were more vendors as well, jammed under the roofs of the market. More of them had brought their own shelter or, more often, had just set up wherever there was space. Eli dodged a woman who really wanted to tell him about whatever it was she was selling. The feeling of all these people around him, the bright colors, and the noise of their voices was claustrophobic and oppressive but made him feel good at the same time. Eli kept his head down all the same, walking slowly toward where Tessa was waiting for him.
Eli was a few meters from the door when he heard a familiar voice. He stopped, looking around to see who it was. There was a tall man a few meters away. He had long black hair in a braid and as he turned, Eli saw a intricately shaped goatee.
The freighter captain met Eli’s eyes and said something to a woman he was standing next to.
Did he send the freighter on without him? What’s he doing here? And why does he look panicked?
Wotanask’s companion turned and Eli’s eyes widened.
She said something to the man and they rapidly walked toward the main street.
“Wait,” Eli yelled, shoving his way through the crowd after them.
Wotanask looked over his shoulder and then the pair started moving faster. Eli pushed back the dizziness and shoved through the crowd after them. It was hard getting through all the people, but the two in front of him were having the same problem. Eli yelled again and shoved toward them. Faces were turning to look at him and people were complaining as he pushed past. Wotanask and the woman suddenly turned and went between two buildings. Eli struggled through the crowd and finally got to the same spot. He was panting like he’d been sprinting and an ominous flicker began to dance on the edge of his vision. Eli kept going, determined he was going to find out what was going on.
Eli staggered between the buildings and thankfully the space was narrow enough that he could use the walls as handholds. Once he was behind the row of buildings he looked around. They were gone, if they’d even come this way. He’d probably imagined the whole thing. Eli chuckled to himself, thinking what it must have looked like, a lurching, bellowing madman chasing a pair of panicked random people through the crowd.
Realizing that he’d badly overdone it, Eli looked for something to sit on. Anja was going to be pissed. There was a crate a few meters in front of him and Eli staggered toward it. The flickering blackness flowed over his vision before he’d taken two steps. Eli felt his body hit the ground but he didn’t care much, it felt like old news from far away.
There was a thump from behind him, then another.
“See? They never look up,” a voice said.