Just wrote a new section to the sequel! Very excited with how it turned out. It’s been hard to find time these last few months to work on the book. So I’m glad to finally churn out some new pages.
Check out the bit below.
His boots sunk into the acid soaked dirt as he jumped out from the helishuttle. He could barely stand as the swirling red winds pounded upon him. Beneath his thick white ranger armor, his skin trembled as the sharp chards of infected rock and stone grated upon him from all sides. For the winds had collected the remnants of what was left of this dying planet, consuming it and belching it out again like a gluttonous beast hell bent on destruction. His suit was now the only thing protecting him from being torn to shreds. How had it come to this? We warned you. We tried to help. Why didn’t you listen? Now, move, god damn it, move.
He staggered forward, pushing his way through the dense wall of corruption. Glancing backwards over his shoulder, he realized that the safety of the helishuttle was now fading from view as if it too was being eaten up by the winds. For a moment, he thought about returning. He wanted to return, but it was as if something had taken hold of his trembling legs, forcing him onward into what he knew was just a death zone. It is a ranger’s duty. You must find any who may remain. There may be hope still. Hold strong. Hold strong. A flash of lightening tore through the smog. In that moment, seconds which seemed like an eternity, he could now see his surroundings better. He was near a village.
What was left of a village.
He was standing in the middle of a street. The concrete path was cut up straight down the middle, like a slab of flesh parting open from a gruesome carving. The houses to both his sides were barely standing. Rooftops ripped open from rockets shells. Flames danced behind shattered windows leading up to funnels of grey smoke. What trees that remained were uprooted from the ground. Tendrils of black oil seemed to infect the trees’ bodies. Bark flaked off like dead skin. Their mangled branches seemed to reach out for him like the arms of a pained being. So close, that the whittled fingers seemed to be trying to grab him. And they were grabbing him now, clawing at the fabric of his white armor. He tugged himself away from the clasps of the dying, not allowing himself to be consumed by their pain. As the hands released from his body, he pressed forward again down the street. The red winds converged back to obscure his view, swallowing up the howling trees.
“Don’t forget about me.”
He stopped suddenly as he heard the voice whisper from up ahead. Was I just imagining it? Could someone still be alive?
And now he heard the voice again. He began to run forward with desperation in the direction of the voice. He couldn’t see anything but a few feet from his face. The glass visor of his helmet was growing slick with the debris swirling around, further obscuring his vision. He stumbled over another jagged cut in the ground, but regained his balance against what seemed to be the brick wall of a torn down building. He pressed forward through the wind, now using his hands to feel his way through the maze of the ravaged village buildings. As he reached to the side, he felt something crumble against his touch. What was it? He paused to catch his breath, and he wiped his glove over his visor, trying to clear away the layers of soot. He could make out what looked to be a small, unmoving figure a few steps before him.
“Are you ok?” he called out to the figure. “I’m here to help you.”
There was no answer and no movement. He edged up even closer, until he was almost standing right next to it. Perhaps it was just a statue. Just a statue made of stone. But it looks so real. He scanned the figure up and down, taking in the subtle curve of its nose, its grimacing mouth, its closed eyes, and its clenched hands crossed over chest as if praying for salvation. Through the pulsating air valves from his armored suit that filtered out the corruption, he could still smell. Smell that this being wasn’t made of stone. It was made of charred human flesh. The being stood before him like a snowman made of cremated ashes, held together in the form of its final moments. Without thinking, he reached out with his gloved hand and touched the cheek of the figure. Its eyes flickered open and he recoiled backwards from the shock of its movement. “Don’t forget me,” it cried out just before it collapsed beneath his fingertips in a puff of smoke.
There was another flash of lightening, and for just a moment, the area around him was illuminated again. He seemed to be in an open courtyard now, before the tall iron gates of a prison facility. In the space around him were rows and rows of these tiny snowmen made of ash and the stink of death. He felt a chill creep up his spine, and once again he could sense that a presence was nearby. He popped open the latch around his laser rifle and lifted up the weapon before him. He continued to explore the area, moving slowly to avoid touching the charred figures that littered the field. He tried not to stare into their faces. Not wanting to be haunted by the images of their last moments, frozen in the black soot. But as he crossed the field, he noticed the tears of a small girl, the fear of a boy, and the anger of another victim, arms punching forward as if not willing to go out without a fight. A huge gust of wind smashed against him, and he could see several of the tiny figures being swept up, disappeared into the red fog. Their faces mouthed out silent calls for help one final time before leaving forever.