Saturday, February 24, 2007


This is from the WIP tentatively titled "Bella Diana," which is the sequel to "Tin Soldier" (available by request on my permission-only blog) and the prequel to the "Diana's Diary" blog.

Finally there came a day when they found themselves on the outskirts of a ruined city. There had been fighting here, as tribes from the reservations battled for control of the deserted suburbs. Homes and businesses lay in blackened ruins, and the structures that remained were falling apart, pock-marked with bullets and shrapnel.

Will reined in his horse and looked around. "Estrella is on the far side of those mountains up ahead. Going around this town will take a whole extra day, and may not be any safer than cutting through."

Diana sighed. The green of the mountains was inviting. It would be cool up there, and she longed to see Amalia and rest in a bed of her own. "I'm not afraid to cut through town."

Will looked at her belly, which seemed bigger with each passing day. "I won't let you put yourself in danger."

"I can manage."

"Your balance is all thrown off."

"I'm trying to think of it as a counterweight."

Will turned to Coyote. "What do you think?"

Coyote shook his head. "Nothing. I've been picking up a lot of interference lately."

"Interference? I thought you told me you weren't a radio."

"I'm not. It's just a conversation I listen to. And lately they've been saying the same damn thing over and over." He darted a glance at Diana. "But she's in no danger here."

"What about the rest of us?"

"We take our chances."

Will moved his horse out in front, Diana behind him, with Macy and Coyote bringing up the rear. They were on the remains of the old state highway, the asphalt nearly buried under blowing sand. The highway gradually became a business road, flanked on either side by decrepit hotels and caved-in shopping centers.

"Look at all the pretty plastic!" Macy pointed to the remains of broken signs.

Coyote looked and shrugged. "It's just old oil that would've been better used fueling a train."

"It's the colors I like. They're so bright, and they never seem to fade. They'd make great jewelry."

"Too brittle," Diana said. "You wouldn't be able to shape them."

"I bet there's a way." Macy lapsed into a pensive silence.

They continued without speaking, the wind blowing trash, tumbleweeds and the remains of dead electrical lines across their path. It seemed the entire suburban region was uninhabited, although scraps of old bedding and the charcoal remains of cooking fires suggested someone had tried to live in these abandoned structures for awhile.

"I wonder what drove them out," Coyote said.

Diana looked around. "No water."

Near the center of town the buildings were older, with thicker walls, and windows placed to let the breezes flow through. Trees grew here, indicating that a river flowed nearby. And here too, were the people. Children and dogs saw them first, rushing forward in a shouting, yapping horde. Diana tightened her hands on the reins, but her friends had all been street urchins once and shooed the kids away without a second thought. "Go on, we ain't got nothing. We're hungry, too."


Anonymous said...

I like it. The desolation of the environment comes through strongly, and even in this small snippet, Diana comes across as a strong and resolute character.

M. said...

I look forward to reading more of your thoughts and writings. Spec fic + Coyote = Good!

Alice Audrey said...

I remember this one too. Should I be skipping the Diana outtakes?

Ann (bunnygirl) said...

@Alice: Your call, of course! :-)