Excerpt for Fragile: A Walk Beneath the Stars by , available in its entirety at Smashwords

Fragile

A Walk Beneath the Stars

Brett P. S.



Copyright © 2018 Brett P. S.

Smashwords Edition

All rights reserved.

This book is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are products of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, events, or locales is entirely coincidental.



Table of Contents



CHAPTER 1

CHAPTER 2

CHAPTER 3



Chapter 1

Not So Far



Dion and Sola, companions under a starlit curtain, trekked through a muddy basin after a fresh summer’s rainfall. Thick stalks of grass loomed over his head, a pale comparison to the forest canopy so very far away. Untouchable, much like the stars glistening through the rustling leaves above. Dion looked to the stars with passion. He tugged up on his trousers and ventured on across the mud. His antennae bobbed to the beats of a cool breeze while Sola, his life-mate, trailed behind.

“Slow down, Dion,” she called out. “We both need to be looking.”

Dion paused. He breathed in a deep spell of fresh air as Sola strode up beside him. She placed a hand around his shoulder and hugged him close. She stepped away and gestured to a collection of twigs thick as his head off to the other end of a long, deep puddle. A hulk of lumber like that would provide his camp with warmth for many days.

“That’ll do,” he said. “It’ll take whole tribe to move it though.”

Sola nodded. “Maybe we can look for something smaller in the meantime.”

The deep puddle lurked at the edge of his toes and continued on for a distance, the twig on the other side. He grabbed Sola by the hand to lead her through the waters. She pulled back, grimacing at first, though her lips soon arched into a grin as she let him tug her in. Air caught her dress, and the muddy waters splashed up against them both. Ripples echoed around the couple as they trudged through toward the other side of the expanse.

Dion looked to the canopy. “You know, I always wondered how they did it.”

Sola cocked her head. “Did what?”

“The elders, I mean,” he said, reaching up, as if to grasp the starlight. “It just looks so far, don’t you think?”

Sola smiled and pushed him. Dion splashed as he fell flat into the murky moonlit waters.

“Hey, what was that for?” Dion snapped.

Sola brought her finger to her lips, and Dion quieted. He searched for meaning in her silence as the waters stilled. Dion gazed at Sola’s reflection, her slender body glistening in the moonlight, her dress, a faded blue he’d fashioned from textiles. With caution, he lifted his body, sending out ripples in the expanse, and it wasn’t until he’d taken his eyes off her that he noticed the greater reflection around them.

Dion smiled. “They’re not so far, don’t you think?”



Chapter 2

Wolf Among Us



Dion and Sola laughed, splashing water as they raced to the edge of the puddle. Their legs waded through the shallow depths, and they wept tears of joy. It was all so simple on this world, in this forest … in the dark of the woods their children’s children would call home and …

Dion stopped in his muddy tracks at the sound of a booming crack. It echoed from deep beyond the pool and through the thick of the grass blades. The forest teemed with the sounds of bird beasts chirping high above, but none of them would have seen Dion or his life-mate. No, this was no bird. Sola froze still, clutching his hand. Dion inched back through the puddle.

“Dion, I … we …” Sola’s words trailed off into a stutter. “We should go back. We should go back now and …”

Dion shoved her into the water with enough force to keel her over. “Stay down!” he screamed.

But she wouldn’t listen. Sola rose up to reach for his arm as the creature’s carapace rose on high. It parted the grass stalks of the grim darkness beyond the camp, a mouth filled with venom and eyes like a devil. Thick furry spines covered the body and eight legs of a monster three times his size, a brutal beast that only knows to drink life.

“Wolf Spider!” Dion choked on his own breath, grabbed her arm and pulled her away. “Run!”

He gripped so hard it hurt his fingers. Sola bled tears of anguish through the empty maelstrom. Dion dragged her with all his might, wading through the same waters filled with stars. The plight of Dion’s forefathers spilled out across the ripples as it closed in. He couldn’t outrun it, not with all his muscle, not with all his heart. Ravenous fangs seeped venom as eight massive legs churned the mud and waters, and before he knew it, he could no longer see the reflection of starlight that once shone clear.

Dion tugged one last heave to reach the other side as a venom-filled fang grazed his arm. His mind grew fuzzy, his vision dazed. Dion reached the edge of the waters and dropped to his knees. He couldn’t feel her in his arms. He couldn’t feel his arm at all. Dion wept, clutching his shoulder. He wept and collapsed as his world turned black.



Chapter 3

Empty Gaze



Dion awoke in a groggy daze. His head spun something fierce as he struggled to climb to his feet. What had … he glanced to his side, spotting the wound. The Wolf Spider’s venom hadn’t struck him directly. A faint trickle grazed his arm, burning the flesh. The wound would heal, but it would take many days and …

Dion looked to his other side, then the puddle. Where was she? He smacked his head to jog the memory, but his thoughts still felt muddied. He rose up, his legs shaking. Dion squinted to the dark of the grass beyond the waters, saw the parted stalks where the spider had come and …

“Dion! Dion help!”

It was faint, far beyond the growth of stalks, but he did hear it. His mind may be caught between worlds, but no poison could play tricks on his ears. His antennae curled, and he pushed into the waters. Dion called out to his companion.

“Sola! Where are you?”

He pushed through the mud and pumped his fists.

“Dion, please help …”

“Sola! Tell me where you are!”

He pushed through the fatigue and the headache. Dion fought against his instinct for survival. He held no weapon, beckoned no others by his side. He was going to the den of the beast to die, and it … brought him a sickening joy.

“Dion, I can’t …”

“I’m almost there!” he said.

Dion ventured through the stalks, following the putrid stench of the Wolf Spider and its leaking venom. Grass stalks pushed aside in its wake, a path of emptiness dragging him deeper still. Dion raced far beyond the boundaries of the camp and into the stalks where the dark grew more intense until the stench swallowed him up.

Dion stopped at the precipice of a burrow laced with web and the broken hairs of something dark and evil. The scent of poison and blood filled his nose, and his antennae drooped. The thought of Sola dissolving in pieces churned his stomach, but he called out one last time.

“Sola! Can you hear me?”

Dion waited through an empty, deafening silence. He waited and waited and waited more. Deep inside, he thought he could hear the machinations of the festering Wolf Spider feeding on his life-mate. Dion buried the thought and reached out into the dark of the burrow with tear soaked eyes. Silence met his ears again. He crouched stepped back and poised his body to leap into the chasm below, but a soft trickle of a whisper fluttered through the depths to haunt his ears.

“I … love you … Dion.”

Dion heard the words, and he faltered. She was as good as dead, beyond healing, but … he swallowed the lump welling in his throat. He heard the words and faltered, though only for a moment. He poised his body and bolted with a furious leap into the black of the abyss. Shadows marked his path, a story ended before it began. It waited for him in the tunnels below. They both waited.


Download this book for your ebook reader.
(Pages 1-5 show above.)