It's back! A bit more, to give you a feel of the world I've dropped you in, inspired by the prompt: Use the words track, pilot, and star.
Fortitude Part Two
“It’s blank.” Teddy frowned down at the metal square inside the box. “What good is that?”
I smirked. “You think? Touch it, but just on the corner.”
Teddy reached inside and slid his pinkie along the edge of the metal sheet nestled inside the box. “It’s oily.” He sniffed his finger. “And it stinks.”
“Here, hold this for me.” I handed Teddy the lantern. The light dimmed, but I didn’t want it bright for this anyway. “Watch.” I reached inside the pocket where I’d hid the box and pulled out a very special light. A quick shake, and a focused thought, and the tip lit up, glowing a baleful red.
Floating just above the oil was a haze that only appeared under my light. I moved it over the box and then away. “See, it’s a map!” Inside the haze were darker lines and shapes. “I found the box and experimented with chemicals to bring out the haze to make the map visible with just a few waves.”
“Where did you find it?”
“The museum.” I carefully closed the box and locked it. I’d memorized this part of the journey under the city, and it was better to keep it protected. I tucked it safely back into my inner pocket.
“Did you steal”—Teddy goggled at me with his mouth open quite unbecomingly—“from a museum?”
I tapped his chin. “Close your mouth; I don’t want to see your tonsils. I didn’t steal it. It was hidden with the study exhibit they had set up, in his desk. They had no idea it was even there, so they’ll never miss what they didn’t know they had.”
He titled his head. “That sounds quite self-serving. You took something that didn’t belong to you.”
“It didn’t belong to them either. Besides, I can give it back when we’re done. Do you think anyone will care once I get Shvesla’s codex and restart his machine?” He was focusing on the wrong thing. “I’m going to become famous.”
That was my Teddy. He sometimes focused on the wrong things, but in the end, he was behind me. “Come on, we need to continue. We don’t want to arrive at the end of the tunnel late in the day. I don’t know about you, but I don’t care to spend my first night in the wild unprepared.”
Teddy handed me back the lantern, and we moved on. The tunnel narrowed and lowered until we were hunched over. “This won’t squeeze down much farther, will it?”
“People are meant to follow the path, therefore the tunnel has to be passable.” At least… I hoped. I really didn’t relish crawling on my hands and knees. My trousers would be ruined.
It was a close thing; my back was aching as we hunched over with the rocky ceiling so close it often brushed against our hair. How we avoided braining ourselves, I wasn’t sure. The sound of water running clued me in to the fact the tunnel was finally coming to an end.
And not a moment too soon.
“I think my back is broken. I may never walk upright again,” Teddy complained. He put a hand on the small of his back and stood up, groaning. “That was awful, Will.”
“Shh.” He hadn’t gotten a good look at where we were yet, but I had. “We’re outside.”
“Well if we were inside I couldn’t stand up.”
I put a hand behind me, grabbing his wrist. “No. Teddy. We’re outside.” I couldn’t even see the walls behind us through the trees. I didn’t know anyone who’d been outside the city. In preparation, I’d read up on animal tracks and navigating by the stars. I had a pilot box, but I was unsure if there were roads where we’d have to do. The directional arrows were drawn to markers embedded in signal posts. By aligning to the nearest signpost, we could reliably know which direction we faced based on the movement of the arrows.
It was a great system in the city.
I didn’t see any markers.
“Superb. So. Outside.” I heard paper rustling. Teddy had pulled out the tiny pad of paper he carried around. He scribbled with a tiny pen I’d made him that had an internal reservoir of ink. “It’s pretty.”
Would he still think it was pretty when we were wandering around the woods? “What are you doing?”
“Writing notes, impressions. Just little fritterings.” Teddy tucked his things away. “So, onward, yes? Which way?”
For now, I did have the answer to that. “South.”
He looked around. “Which way is that?”
“That way,” I said, pointing straight ahead, “seeing as we came out past the south wall of the city.” My map showed me that much. I’d have to watch the stars tonight and pick out landmarks to get our bearings for tomorrow.
“Great! Right into those pretty blue flowers.” Teddy was off. He plucked one and tucked it into a button hole of a jacket pocket.
Teddy, festooned with flowers he’d picked along the way, wasn’t nearly as enthusiastic as the sun faded behind the trees. “How long have we been walking?”
“Just a few hours.”
He mopped his forehead with a cloth. “Do you think we can stop soon?” His stomach growled. “I’m hungry.”
“Well, there’s a good clearing over there. We can stop as soon as we reach it.”
It didn’t take long, tramping over some curled ferns and a downed tree carpeted with a streaky yellow moss. Teddy frowned. “What now?”
I grabbed a metal tube tied to my pack. 3 smaller tubes slid out of it. With a few twists and clicks I expanded the metal into long rods. Separating them in the center, I had two forked ends. The longest tube locked into them, about waist high. Pressing on one side, a thin, silver fabric unfurled. I secured it under the edges, then rolled the other side down ‘til the seams met in the center and could be tied into a ground cover.
“Voila. A tent!”
I'm liking this world! Boys of the city... meet nature! This is gonna be fun, lol!
Okay, so go read more flash. You know you wanna....
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