First - Previous
I woke to a loud roar, one that twisted up my insides and made me want to flee in all directions at once. I peeked carefully out of my very not-protective, flimsy tent, and searched carefully for the source before haring off in a random direction, lest it be towards the danger.
A dark shadow circled above me, filling its chest and winding up for another great scream, but before it could release it, a glowing shout came up across the valley tha I hadn't seen below me last night and pinioned it against the nearest cliff-face. Unfortunately, that cliff-face was right above my campsite ledge.
I reached out to my bicycle and, as quietly as I could, unlocked it and prepped it for further riding. I fully intended to run, as even if I had brought any weapons with me, I was most definitely out of my league.
I gulped, trying not to swallow too loudly and draw attention to myself.
"Dragon. Dra. Gon. Not lizard. I wonder if it does the tongue thing," I thought to myself, and kept my thoughts on that so I didn't have the opportunity to think of something worse that could come along, like a bigger fish.
The beast shook off the magical casting and leapt back into the air; as it circled away from me again, I pulled my pack back on, eased onto my bicycle, found a path, and started down it.
This morning, it was harder to cause change to the landscape, but before my legs were burning too terribly, I had myself back on a familiar road, asphalt, potholes and all. Unfortunately, that road wasn't anywhere near my apartment complex, and I would have a long ride ahead of me if I couldn't manage any shortcuts.
I pulled to the side of the road, and rested for a few minutes, changing out the empty waterbottle on my frame to a fresh one from the pack. As I started to climb back on my bike, a sonic boom hit the air, and I looked up.
Of all things, a space-ship was entering the atmosphere above me, and looked like it would be landing well ahead of me. For all the other crazy things I'd run from in recent hours, I wasn't dissuaded from following this. I knew that ship, and felt no cause to fear it.
The ship dropped below the tree-line around me, but I could still hear the familar roar of the engines as it descended carefully to the earth. It wasn't a particularly magestic descent, but it may as well have been a graceful dance to my own weary eyes.
I reached the clearing shortly, wheezing as I tried to catch my breath. It wasn't that I was in a rush to catch up with her, but I couldn't help myself from hurrying all the same.
The loading bay was still closed, but I could see movement up in the cockpit above it. Somebody was having an argument, it seemed, but whoever won didn't seem to think I was anything to fear.
The bay door lowered, and I climbed down from my bike seat, walking it forward across the warmed grass. Only beneath the two massive wing engines was it actually smoking, and then only just a little. Enough dew still soaked the ground that it soon put itself out.
A young girl sprinted down into the clearing, threw herself into a spin as soon as her feet touched green that was clear of the shadow of the ship, and then smiled precociously at me.
I pinched my riding helmet like it was a formal hat, and tilted it toward her graciously. She curtsied back, grinning, and then turned back toward the ship at the sound of her name.
"River! Don't be bothering the locals now, you hear?"
"Aye, aye, captain." She turned again to me, winked, and then sprinted back onto the ship.
I unslung my bag from one shoulder, spun it around on the other so I could rifle through it without setting it down, and pulled out a small bag of strawberries, before zipping it up again, swinging it back, and continuing my approach.
All parts of Only Sweeter.