Chani dreams of the ritual of Severance, which allows her to leave her people's homeland, but when the company she works for moves to take her people's lands, she is exactly where she needs to be. All she has to do is convince Security Officer Asleyan that her visits to Palmyra Ridge are essential, and maybe gain his assistance in defending those she holds most dear. But the security officer has a heritage and fears of his own. Can two people from two very different cultures work together to save nation, while retaining their own sense of self and sanity?
Palmyra Ridge is a short science fiction story exploring issues of belonging, bloodlines and heritage in a changing world. It is available as part of An Anthology of Worlds, and also as a stand-alone title at Smashwords, Kobo, Kindle, iTunes, and Nook.
First Page: Palmyra Ridge
Chani woke screaming. The Ridge was gone. The shaman stood over her, the rippled blade of his wooden knife gleaming softly in the starlight.
“Your choice,” he whispered softly, fading into the growing light, and he was right.
It had been her choice and freely taken. Chani felt a sob rising from her chest and let it out into the warm air of her bedroom. Listening to its echoes soften and dim, she knew it wouldn’t be long before Security was knocking down her door. Better that she open it for them, be on her feet when they arrived.
Stifling another sob, she pushed back the cover of her bed and swung her legs over the edge so her feet touched the floor. Once upright, she paused, trying to recapture her usual façade of calm. It did not help that the soft earth-red of the comforter reminded her of the ground on the Ridge, or that its sage-green underside brought to mind the saltbush that clung to its heights.
Closing her eyes to block the comforter from view, Chani drew a deep breath and stood up. The carpet was soft beneath her feet, another contrast with her homeland. There the ground was hard and littered with stones. She opened her eyes and watched her room swim slowly back into focus. Her wardrobe was reattaching itself to the floor and the ceiling when there was a loud knocking from the door.
“Wait a minute!” she yelled, leaping from the edge of her bed and pulling her dressing-gown from its hook behind her bedroom door.
“I said, ‘Wait a minute!’” she shouted, as the knocking came again.
“Miss Riskassen-Mar, are you okay?”
Chani blushed. Now the whole floor would know she’d brought Security to her door—again. If she wasn’t careful, there’d be a residents’ meeting and she’d be asked to leave. That was always assuming her neighbors hadn’t already called one and the Committee just hadn’t gotten around to typing up her eviction.
Damn him! By all the stars and the land itself, did he have to yell so loud?
“I’m fine, thank you, fine.”
Ah, spirit’s teeth, she sounded anything but. Fortunately, she had reached the door before he could ask her anything more. That would mean a little less ammunition for her neighbors at their meeting—if they were planning one. Chani opened the door.
If you would like to read more, Palmyra Ridge is available as part of An Anthology of Worlds, and also as a stand-alone title at Smashwords, Kobo, Kindle, iTunes, and Nook.