The following is an excerpt from my upcoming novel, Nails Jane. Unlike the previous excerpt, this one is taken from the main narrative. Much of the novel takes place on fantastic worlds, other planets, and alternate realms of existence. In her attempt to return to Earth, our protagonist, Ati, explores many strange and new locations. Each tests her skills and stability beyond breaking points.
The location described in the following excerpt is Maug, a hostile planet. I wanted to post this just to give you a taste! Enjoy!
From Nails Jane:
Maug drove explorers mad – to the point of suicide and homicide, never to leave. Rogue clones were occasionally sent there, too. I wondered what humans, if any, were lurking about, lost in Paranoia. I wasn’t worried about beasts in the dark, though. I was worried about nutcases, hiding in the bushes, convinced that I am the monster.
Hours passed and during that span of time I managed to fully regain my vision. I no longer needed to lean upon trees and rocks to find my way around those dismal woods. As I walked, I reflected upon my encounter with the winged creature. It had felt like a dream. I reached into my pocket and felt the object that I had pulled from the creature’s foot.
That did happen, right?
I wouldn’t fall victim to insanity. I couldn’t decipher whether or not what I did was real. I was coming out of delirium. The disorientation lifted and my senses were restored. My nose throbbed, however, and as I rubbed it, a few flakes of dried blood made their way to my fingertips.
“I’m sure I fell and smacked my face on the ground,” I said aloud.
As if in reply, there came a snort from behind the trees – a short, muffled, grunt. That was no hallucination. I looked over my shoulder and my weak eyes scanned over the foliage. The leaves were too dense. I saw nothing, but knew I was not alone.
Something was there.
I made my way across the wooded terrain. Initially I hoped to find an abandoned capsule or broken droid – something to plan an escape. By the second day, I was happy enough just to stumble upon fresh water. Each day, I became more and more convinced that something followed me. Each night, I kept up my guard but eventually couldn’t stay awake.
Am I being hunted? Why won’t it make its move?
By the third day, I gave up all hope of scavenging any technology. I wondered if the planet wasn’t Maug after all. The faceless hunter among the trees was slowly becoming my only companion. Each night I fell asleep and each morning I woke up unharmed. I was thankful. His menace withdrew from my disquietude.
As I prepared for sleep on the third evening, I let my fire die down. Maug nights were cold, but I couldn’t find the motivation to get the flames going again. If my hunter still watched me, surely it would let me sleep in the cold. It wouldn’t harm me, yet. I would only be uncomfortable until morning. I convinced myself that night, that my stalker would rather meet me face to face.
I have faced death on many occasions. I am a rebel. A fighter. A warrior. I will die sooner or later. I won’t die in my sleep.
I nodded off.
I jolted awake, shocked. A residual fleck of ash burned on my nose. I couldn’t have slept long. Why did I feel haunted?
Perhaps it would be better to die fighting.
I needed a weapon. I looked around. It wouldn’t be a fancy weapon. A rock, perhaps. I ran my hand over the grassy soil beneath me and scanned for a decent rock. I found one. One end fit into my hand like the handle of a gun. The other end was a jagged edge.
This works. Maybe now I can meet my stalker. Here I come, friend.
Copyright 2011 Trista DiGiuseppi