Silver Wordsmith: An author's journey
The sun had already set and an autumn chill settled over the street when they left the restaurant, not entirely having satisfied their ravenous evening appetites. Something new hung in the air. Angzal could sense it, unsure of what it could be, while Rzena seemed entirely oblivious. As they made their way back towards the consulate building, since both of them lived relatively close by, Rzena caught onto it too. The mood of the streets had shifted, and thumped with a different heartbeat. Even before they heard it – that rising tide of the noise of the crowd – they had already been walking on guard, ears perked up. Though neither of them spoke, both had the innate feeling that the other was tugged along by the same opposing forces – the threatening hum of a powerful confluence of voices and the desire to know what was happening, a flash of excitement on an otherwise dull planet.
Here and there they spied it through the breaks in the buildings, the press of people that sometimes flowed like a patient river, and sometimes churned in place with its tones at times hopeful, or frustrated, or even downright enraged. Keeping to its periphery, Angzal and Rzena found that between the crowd and the geography of the city, the way home had been effectively barred. And worse yet, keeping a few blocks away they found straggling pockets of individuals that have peeled off from the main group, and eyed the two of them in less than flattering ways. A choice was made to follow the crowd at a distance as far as they could and then cut through quickly while hopefully not attracting much attention.
They ran out of room when they reached one of the stumpy bridges across the river that separated the historic core from the new part of downtown. Here at least the road was wide enough to let the crowd thin out a bit, though it left the two of them with no options other than hurrying right through it.
Now that Angzal and Rzena were in it, they could see the crowd attracted every manner of Human, from pale beige to dark brown, as well as some Wintis, standing tall on those elongated toes like some kind of prey animal on the grasslands, and also some members of the Fusir – all Outer Rim Confederacy species, while Thorians and their fellow Mraboran were notably absent. Not everything that was shouted or chanted by the crowd was in Earth Standard Commercial, but the things that were, as well as the posters and placards carried down the streets of Malbur, explained this absence easily.
“Never really amounts to more than anything, huh?” Angzal asked, mostly in jest, and then seeing Rzena’s terrified face realized he was well out of reach of any attempts to lighten the mood, so she grabbed him by one of the leather straps that looped over his shoulder and dragged him at a conspicuous pace over the bridge.
She had figured that two fur-covered beings could only remain largely unseen for so long in a mess of mostly hairless beasts. They’d made it about halfway across the bridge before some of the shouting had definitely come to be directed at them, though the only phrase Angzal could identify was jeers of “Go home!” Before she even realized how it happened, she lost the grip on Rzena and he became separated from her by a wall of Human backs.
Later she would tell herself that there was no moment of hesitation, that her looking behind her shoulder towards the other side of the bridge and wondering how quickly she could make it there was her merely checking her surroundings. It didn’t matter, she would insist, because in the end, the result was the same – she stopped and grabbed at the shoulders of the Humans that stood between her and Rzena to get through the living barricade. She had a hard time of it on her own, but a rough shove to her back propelled her forward and she made the best of it, using the momentum to break through two bystanders. She found Rzena on his knees in the middle of an enclosed circle, shielding his head from one Human that stood over him.
Without wasting any more time, she grabbed Rzena under the arms and yanked him up, leading him out of a knot of people that seemed to be in somewhat of a disarray after suddenly finding another Mraboran in their midst. There were a few shouts of “hey!” behind them, as well as the sound of shattering glass on pavement which may or may not have had anything to do with them, though Angzal took no chances glancing back. As they were heading down the bridge, Rzena stumbled, and Angzal noticed the fur on his brow was matted with blood and his eyes were drifting every which way except the direction they were supposed to be going. For her part, Angzal thought of herself as a keel aimed in the straightest path down the road towards the other side of the river. Several Humans, some of whom looked more like curious passersby than active agitators, made the wrong choice to not get out of her way, and were elbowed sharply aside.
Once the bridge ended, all she had to do was pierce through the clot of people at each side of the road, hopefully not losing Rzena in the process. She picked a spot were several law enforcement officers were lined next to each other, assuming this would make for a safe exit as any.
Again the attack came from behind. This time, the pain was sharp, delivered to the base of her skull, and filled her ears with a dull ringing. Rzena had been ripped from her by the impact, and she herself went sprawling forward, coming to a sudden stop against one of the officers. He was a tall Human, arms crossed over a barrel chest that bulged from the armour, face constructed entirely of straight lines and right angles. Not even a hand had moved to help steady her, and his eyes had no interest in her assailant. Instead, they looked down at her in a cold hard way, drawing a line between them that couldn’t have been clearer. Under that gaze, the hotness in the back of her head swelled, blotting out any initial touch of fear that she may have experienced, and she pushed away from the officer, staring defiantly into the crowd, where the culprit wasn’t hard to spot, still doubled-over in laughter while his two friends egged him on.
Michael is a husband, father of two, lawyer, writer, and is currently working on his first novel, at a snail's pace. A very leisurely snail. All opinions are author's own.