Crossing the Yampa
Since November I have not written one word. It has been a dry spell to say the least. Then I received an email from Chuck Wendig’s blog with a flash fiction challenge. Just the kick in the pants I needed to write something….anything.
Finding a subject was a simple matter of choosing two arbitrary numbers from 1 to 20 and use those two numbers to match to two subject lists then write a flash fiction piece of less than 2,000 words. So, from the two lists I got Extraterrestrial and Wild West.
____________________ Crossing the Yampa _________________
The wagon train had left her station hours ago. She had worked through the rest of the day cleaning the horse dung and the human stench from the walls. Once a month they came through, sometimes twice in a month, and Margo never got used to it. The humans had a smell about them that reminded her of the dead rats she found in the barn sometimes.
Satisfied, she went back upstairs then out the window to sit on the roof. This is where she spent most of her time staring into the sky wishing for home. In the years spent in the southern hemisphere she could see her home cluster in the night sky, but here in the north she could only see the local sun. Only ten more years and she could go back south. Ten more years of being in this dust bowl serving the wagon trains that kept pushing to the west carrying those petty humans into the frontier.
Stirring out of her own mind she turned to go back inside. Mid-stride Margo met the blunt end of a shotgun in the gut. “Hello Margo. Been a long time wouldn’t you say?”
“Kate. What in tarnation are you doing here? How did you find me?”
“You are a slippery one Margo. I’ve been hunting you for the past couple of centuries. I have to admit you found yourself one hell of a place to hide. How did you find this dump anyway?”
Pushing past her, Margo went back through the window. “Believe it or not, I crashed here. Been stranded for at least a couple hundred years.”
“Come on Margo. You can’t expect me to believe that you, our top pilot, crashed on this rock. You’ll need a better excuse than that.”
“You know me Kate. Weird shit happens.”
“Weird shit my ass. Is that your excuse for the string of dead bodies you left all over the home cluster? Is that your excuse for decimating Corkerelle? Give me a break.”
Margo couldn’t help but laugh a little bit. “You have no idea do you Kate? You have spent all this time looking for me and never stopped to wonder if it was really me? Wake up Kate. Look around you. What do you see?”
“What are you talking about Margo?”
“I’ve been here for eons watching these humans scrape across their globe. They drag their sorry souls over the land and darken every corner of it. Right now, they drive their wagon trains out west in a thirst for riches and in their wake; they leave only a stench and rot. Did you smell the trash heap on your way in? Did you see what they do? Doesn’t it look even a little familiar? How long ago did Corkerelle happen? Think about it Kate, could I, one solitary being really destroy an entire planet? Think back, Kate. Remember what it smelled like?”
The shotgun began to weigh more than Kate remembered when she first pointed it at Margo. “They came here, didn’t they? They came here to do it all over again didn’t they?”
“Oh, they’ll try alright, but there will be bloody hell to pay before they can cross the Yampa.”
The humans had celebrated that night once they arrived at the edge of the Yampa. It had been a long trek across the eastern plains and everyone was ready for fresh water and time to dance. They had made it. Living to see the Yampa River was all they had prayed for and here they were. Couples clapped and danced to the fiddler’s tune late into the night.
The warmth of the rising sun pushed the gentle breeze through the camp. The air licked at the canvas capes that draped each wagon ruffling the bare threads. The horses had long left the area along with the cattle. A few stray dogs were all that remained behind. A breeze carried the echoes from the night’s celebration leaving silence in its place.
Iron from the wagons took the longest to disassemble, after the humans. It was in their coding to tend to the biomasses first then the iron and other non-living items brought by the humans. The bots did their job then marched back into the water and waited. The next wagon train was due in just a week. They needed time to recharge.