“Everyone should have
a human, they, well, they make you feel so close to nature, the
you know what I mean...”
I didn’t care what she said. We
both knew what she meant. I just liked watching her say it. If
she wanted a human that was fine with me.
“I just think it’s great, you’re
so, well, open and sensitive...”
She flicked back her mane. Behind
her, reflected in an ancient chrome vessel, hot-pink, storm-winds
lashed the horizon. Ruins flickered under ship lights leaving
between storms. Red sand covered everything.
If I didn’t stay the season with
her the next storm could pull me home. I had to decide. And so
did she. Our cycles wouldn’t synch forever.
“Sometimes friends think it’s strange
I let him in the house. And I grew up that way, humans outside.”
“Did you have many?”
“For hunting. They’re the best.”
“I’d heard that.”
“If you have a lot of them you
can flush the nest.”
“Then?” I moved closer where I
could see the gold flecks in her eyes.
“Depends on the breed, what you’re
hunting, the hunter.”
I decided to change the subject
just as she straightened her shoulders in abrupt thought. I could
tell she’d made up her mind.
“I’ll tell you a secret.” She leaned
closer. Sweat dripped in my bodysuit. “I like to cuddle with
them, I keep him tied by my bed. Sometimes I let him in. They’re
almost extinct. They’re expensive. My father had purebreds. Anyway
people don’t just go hunting with them anymore, they’re easy
“Let’s go outside.” Again I wanted
to change the conversation. We hadn’t been outside for days and
if things didn’t work out I wanted to look at the sky. See exactly
how and where the storm was passing.
“Great. Let me get Ralphie’s leash,
he hasn’t been out for weeks.”
“That’s ok. I feel safe without
“Well, you shouldn’t.”
“Are you serious?”
“There’s a new nest nearby.”
Outside, over our heads, high wind-clouds
morphed. Changing shapes and forms, like grifftans or airglets
and other creatures, they mesmerized us for a long time. When
I looked down the human was gone.
“Darn,” she said. “they’re so fast
Then she started yelling “Ralphie,
Ralphie, Ralphie...” and running after him in the compound hills
like a cheeton. I was baffled and checked the sky.
Beautiful fan tails perfect for
gliding swept over the nearest cliffs. The wind tails sprayed
plumes of gold, magenta and hot-red sand into the sky in arcs.
Then I realized what I was looking at. The edge of massive air
crests rolling within the storm. The sklyders dream. I reached
behind to my sailpack feeling for the vidid. I could take air-vids
and sell them. I could leave Mars, pay the rest of my trip searching
for the perfect jetcrest.
She wasn’t even in sight, although
I heard her voice nearby. I decided to run up the cliffs, check
it out, probably take off, follow the storm, give up, go home.
Just before I snagged a wind I
thought of her gold-flecked eyes. And as I turned around, already
hooded, front-to-the-wind, leaning back into the welcome weight
of howling airs, the human tore up out of the sand into my face.
In that split second I ripped open the sail and was carried away.
But not before I saw gold flecks in his eyes and her long mane
whipping out behind him as I twisted up into the winds.