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  • Writer's pictureGrant Stoye

HOLD FAST Part 1: Rock to Rock

Updated: Sep 30, 2020

The cracked dirt of the horizon rippled in the heat.

An expanse forever away, the small town of Krell could never comprehend the infinite possibilities of that horizon. At least, the older residents couldn’t.

Young Gem Heatherwing (a nickname she reckoned she’ll carry ‘til the day she keels over and dies), took her solitary walk around the border of the town, the afternoon sun baking the ground beneath her feet. Hell, it was so hot she could feel the warmth through her boots, radiating like a sick child’s forehead.

It never stopped her, though. She was a stubborn 12 years old and was just as willing to walk through a desert storm as a summer inferno. There were cacti to check up on, lizards to herd. Important things that required her focus and her thoughts of the future.

She thought more of the future than the older townsfolk seemed to think of the past. Those crinkled old crones, she’d think, they’re so ass-chapped they can’t dream of what may come. Gem could. She could goddamn dream of deep greens and vibrant blues, of swift horses and towns of glass. No one would tell her otherwise.

Sounds of the town drifted out to her, from the clang of the hammer on an anvil to the smell of grilling veggies. It wasn’t much – it was all that was left to her and her clan – but it was home and it was theirs.

Gem hopped from rock to rock, continuing to soak in the noises. Each stone would shimmy beneath her foot, but she’d never lose her balance, and she’d dance over to the next one. Natural grace, Gram called it.

“Ho there, what’s this?” she asked as a small pebble seemed to cease its scuttling under her gaze.

She peered down, her finger extended, and primed to poke. The pebble’s legs popped out, four spindly things, and it zig zagged away from her. Gem laughed, a burst of humor that echoed out against the rocks and the sand. She hunched over and followed, giggling to herself.

The small reptile tried its damndest to lose her, weaving back and forth, darting towards a rock here and withered brush there, but Gem would not abandon her curiosity.

“Why you cowardly little…”

It abruptly leaped down into a large crack in the ground, leaving Gem to do nothing but glare downwards, contemplating whether it was worth it or not to claw at the dirt with her bare hands.

She spat and cursed quietly (because if Gram heard her use the foul words…) as she stood back up when suddenly her eyes widened.

Out there, wading through the waves of the afternoon heat, was a figure on a horse.

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