Six Sentence Sunday scene

This is the scene I blogged six sentences at a time on Six Sentence Sunday.


He was cold, and aching in every muscle and far too many bones, including his head ....

            No. Not his head, Amber's. His head merely ached from the aftereffect of the stun field. Hers had discrete knots of pain, including what felt like the whole left side of her jaw, and water rippled icily over her outstretched legs. She wasn't dead, not yet, but if he couldn't urge her to her feet and find something to build a fire, she'd be dead of hypothermia by morning.



Cold. So cold. One of the others must have rolled up in all the covers, or she'd rolled away from them, somehow. Amber reached out, seeking the warmth of other bodies, and found only sand and rounded pebbles. Driven by an urgency she did not understand, she managed to roll onto her side and open her eyes to the night.

            Starlight blazed overhead, waking faint echoes in the river washing over her feet and legs. No moon to help her see, and no faint lingering of daylight, either. "Roi?" she called out anxiously. "Timi? Flame? Penny?" Only the soft rush of the river water answered her.

            The need to be doing something drove her to hands and knees, and she dragged herself slowly away from the water. She gained a body length, and then another before she collided painfully with something sharp-edged, further scraping her sore jaw and narrowly missing an eye. Her hips collapsed sideways until she was half sitting, held up only by braced arms. After a moment she managed to rock back enough to raise one arm and examine the barrier.

            Driftwood, she thought hazily. That should mean something. Her hand slid back down toward the gravel, brushing her heavy climbing belt on the way, her fingers catching on one of the pouches fastened there. Penny's face came into memory. "You're going to be short of belt loops, carrying all the anchors," Penny had said, "so let Timi carry your tracer. But keep the stuff in the emergency pouch with you. It doesn't weigh that much."

            Emergency pouch. Fire-making supplies, fishhooks, reflective air blanket. Fire-making supplies. Driftwood. She could build a fire. Only to do that, she would have to move, and she was so very tired. So much easier just to lie down and rest.

            The sense of urgency intensified, and she groaned and fumbled in the pouch. Emergency blanket. She worked it out of the pouch and struggled to unfold it, finally giving up and draping the wet and still half-folded blanket around her shoulders. Fire-sparker. She dug deeper, and found a handful of the waxy fuzzballs that would ignite even when sopping wet and burn long enough to start even green wood burning. And the driftwood, while a bit damp on the river side, didn't feel soggy.

            Amber ran her hand carefully over the gravel, finding a considerable accumulation of smaller bits of wood and dry twigs in a ragged line parallel to the shore. She scraped them together in a small pile and put a fuzzball in the middle, then got out the sparker and began trying to light it. The sparks dazzled her eyes at first, and it took several tries before she could get a few to fall on the fuzzball. The soft outer layer went up in a flash that eliminated the remainder of her night vision. Then the wax caught, and in a few minutes she had enough of a fire to see the larger mass of driftwood.

            It wasn't a single dead tree, she saw with relief, but a row of branches a little higher up the shore than the light stuff she'd scraped together. She reached for the piece she had bumped into, and dragged it close enough so that she could put it carefully on top of her little fire, where the flames could lick at the few dry curls of bark. Once it caught, she dragged half a dozen more branches back on hands and knees. Finally her sense of urgency eased, and she shook out the air blanket, wrapped it around herself, and lay down as close as she dared to the fire.

            She ached all over, she found once she was no longer moving. For a while she kept reliving the day—the sudden cutoff of Roi's mental voice, the shock as she struck the cold river water, and her frantic efforts to protect her head as she was carried helplessly through the rapids. She could not remember dragging herself out of the river onto this bar, and she must have lain here for hours. Her hand rose to touch her aching jaw, and she realized with a start that she was still wearing the breathing mask that had kept her from drowning as she was carried downstream. She didn't need it to sleep in, she thought, and pulled it off of her face. She was half hypnotized by the dancing flames, and very tired. Gradually her eyes became harder and harder to keep open.



The sun woke her from a nightmare. She had been somewhere else entirely, cramped into a cage.