Dear reader, as I write this, one federal state government in my country has just announced a strict curfew for the next two weeks, starting tomorrow. Other regions will surely follow. This means, people are only allowed outside to go to work, food stores, clinics and pharmacies. Walks and outdoor exercise are allowed only alone or with people of one’s own household. Any violations may be fined with up to 25.000 Euro.
I fight the urge to pinch myself several times a day.
Yet, this is happening. And it’s happening throughout the world. People are getting ill and people are dying. And still, some people are not convinced this is something other than ‘just the flu’. I wish they were right and I was wrong. But I am not betting on it.
Stay home. Stay safe. Keep a healthy distance, and thank the universe for the internet. It keeps us connected even in times like these. In a way, we can all see for ourselves now, how much people all around the world are connected. Keep that in mind. You’re not alone, we’re all in this together, as sappy as it sounds 😉
If you or your loved ones have been infected, please know my thoughts and all my good wishes are with you!
Somehow humankind will eventually pull through as a whole. Nevertheless, I am sure this crisis will change us, it will change the world. For now, as I have been working from home all along, my daily schedule has not changed much. That means, I will post new episodes regularly as planned to keep you and me entertained ❤
Worlds Rising: Rebellion
Weapon at the ready, the soldier set foot into the generator house. One step. Another. He stopped. Only his head turned as he seemed to assess the situation.
Abbida held her breath. Would he notice his tied-up comrade in the twilight next to the generator?
Behind the door, Cole lifted his multitool.
The soldier froze, and in that split second Cole leaped at him. The soldier whirled around into a side-kick, hurling Cole back to crash against the wall. Before he recovered, the soldier was upon him, gun aiming straight at Cole’s face. He hesitated.
Abbida did not.
She dove forward and slammed her elbow into his kidney. Too late she realized he was protected by hard plating. When her elbow connected, it went numb. Should have used the knife!, cried her brain even as he shoved her to the ground and Cole surged forward. He battered the gun from the soldier’s hand. It landed at Abbida’s feet, and she kicked it away, sending it skittering across the stone floor.
The soldier launched himself on Cole. Grabbed him, stepped in, turned and threw Cole over his shoulder. Cole cried out, from pain and surprise. He tried to free himself, but the soldier kept his arm in a vice-like clamp and pinned his shoulder to the ground with his boot. “Who are you?!”
Jumping to her feet, Abbida threw in her whole weight as she barged into the soldier to push him away from Cole. He staggered, but held on to Cole’s arm, twisting it further back. Cole groaned. Frustrated, Abbida jumped the soldier’s back, wound her arms around his head and blocked his view. He uttered a guttural cry of rage, and finally let go of Cole’s arm.
Instead, he grabbed Abbida’s wrists, twisted them up and behind her head, and pushed her face-forward against the wall. She screamed, panic rising he might dislocate her shoulder or snap her wrist!
Cole clobbered him with his multitool.
The iron connecting to his scull made an ugly sound. The soldier gave off a groan, doubled over and knocked his temple on the ground. Then he lay still.
Abbida backed away. Panting, she rubbed her shoulder gingerly. “Is he alive?”
Cole felt for his pulse and nodded, a grim look on his face.
In spite of everything, Abbida sighed with relief. She didn’t want his blood on her hands. Or anybody’s blood. She wanted none of this. All she wanted, was for… She wiped her face. “Now what?”
“Now comes the hard part. Now we blow up those monstrosities outside.”
Abbida made a face.
They were about to bundle up the second soldier when a faint crunch of footsteps, marching in step, made them sit up.
“More soldiers,” Abbida said, groaning.
“They’re still searching! I thought they’d be done by now.”
“They can be here any minute. There isn’t time for us to fix up the explosives and get away!” Her eyes darted towards the canal gutter and without a conscious thought her feet took her there.
Cole grabbed her arm to stop her. “Too late for that! Once they find these two guys, they’ll turn the generator house upside down. And I really don’t want to get caught down there.”
Wild images of being stuck underground made her shiver. What if the soldiers didn’t let them out? Again, she wished they had never come up with this craziness. She shook her head that her curls whipped her face. No time for regret! They needed to improvise.
Stomping back to where the second soldier still lay unconscious, she waved for Cole and said, “Let’s take him along.”
“What?” Cole stared at her and down at the soldier. He hadn’t stirred. His nose and chin were bruised, blood trickled onto his uniform from the cut where his temple had hit the floor hard.
A wave of guilt washed over Abbida, but there was no turning back now.
“Think about it,” she said. “He’s an officer. You see those stars on his shoulders? He will make an excellent hostage. Isn’t that what you wanted? Something to bargain with?”
“Not him, though! I hoped… Do you think he is important enough to let us go?”
Cole knit his eyebrows. She could almost see his thoughts racing, and it was easy to guess his reasoning. Even if they were allowed to leave the canal and enter the forest, how would they make it all the way back to the cabin? Who’s to say they’d not hit an ambush there? And that’s not even counting how they were going to get the unconscious man through the canal in the first place. Uncertain, she pressed her lips together.
The crunching of marching steps became louder. They must have reached the buildings at the rim of the village now. Soon it would be only the yard with the parked aircraft between them and the generator house!
In his corner next to the generator the corporal came to with a groan. Realizing his situation he began to fight his binds. Thankfully, the gag and feedbag muffled his protests.
“Well, that got out of control fast,” Cole said.
“What control?” Abbida muttered, suddenly more angry than afraid. “I don’t know about you, but I’m not getting caught. I’m going through with this–one way or another!”
Cole threw her a strange look. “We’re agreed that we’re desperate?”
“Okay, then here goes plan B!”
He thrust his satchel upon her again, bend down and took up the still unconscious soldier by an arm and a leg and draped him over his shoulders like a shot deer. “Damn, he’s heavy.”
Huffing, he got up on his feet and made for the door. Exactly as Abbida had feared. Checking again, the other guy wasn’t going to strangle himself, she shouldered their two bags and followed. By the time she reached Cole, he was half-way up the aircraft’s ramp. This was getting worse by the minute!
The inside was cool and very alien. Wary, yet with a growing sense of awe Abbida gazed at all the devices. Except for the overhead lights everything was shut off. Some switches were labeled, but though she was able to decipher the characters, she could make no sense of it. “So we’re going to sit this out in here?”
“Better than down in the gutter, don’t you think?”
“Kind of ironic, being trapped in an aircraft.”
Cole manhandled the soldier onto a seat in the back and tied him down in some sort of harness. The guy’s head tilted forward. Suddenly worried, Abbida checked his pulse and sighed in relief.
Searching the walls with his eyes and patting all kinds of surfaces, nooks and crannies, Cole muttered under his breath, “How do you close the damned hatch?”
He headed for the front seats. Resuming his search for a hatch release, he clambered on what must be the pilot’s seat. As soon as he sat, lights turned on all around him, startling them both.
“Did you do that?” said Abbida, casting a glance outside where shouts of orders could be heard now, as of yet not sounding alarmed.
Cole touched a button, gingerly, but nothing happened. He pressed it with more determination and a panel lit up in front of him with bright blue characters: ‘Commence check list?’ A dot blinked as if waiting for an answer.
Wary, Abbida grabbed Cole’s backrest. “What does that mean?”
“Uhm, Abbida? Do you trust me?”
A bad feeling overcame her. “… Should I?”
Engrossed in the panels all around him, Cole motioned for the seat next to him. “Strap in.”
“Because we’re going with Plan C.” His fingers hovered over the various switches and levers. Muttering to himself he read the labels, and scratched his chin.
Abbida grabbed the back of his seat. “That’s insane! How are you even going to get this thing running?”
Outside, they could clearly hear marching steps now. They had reached the court in front of the generator house. Before long someone was bound to discover their bound up comrade, and then all hell would break loose!
Cole’s fingers darted over the devices on the console. Tapped here, jiggled there. Nothing. Pounding on his armrest he grated, “Come on, start already!”
The roar of turbines coming to life cut of anything else he might have said. Multi-colored switches flared up on the console, the dark side walls lit up with more strange writing, scrolling before their eyes. Startled cries followed by bellowed commands pierced through the noise from outside, where the soldiers came rushing towards them.
“Sit! Now!” yelled Cole.
Abbida threw herself on the seat and struggled with the harness. She had barely belted herself in as they shot straight up. Her stomach sagged in her belly, and she groaned, pressing her hands over her ears. “The hatch!”
Cole was too busy to react, though he probably hadn’t heard her anyway. The aircraft leaped and lurched sideways, straight for the generator house. Thrust into her seat, Abbida squeezed her eyes shut and fought the urge to gag. She sensed Cole struggling to get control over the ship, and opened her eyes.
They were no longer going sideways, instead, they were soaring up at a steep angle that pressed her flush against her back rest. Treetops flashed past them as they were headed straight for a bank of sinister, impervious clouds. Abbida gasped and threw her hands over her head–then they pierced through and were surrounded by fog, gray and ominous.
The aircraft rattled, wind lashed inside, screaming into their ears. The pressure on her eardrums was unbearable. Feverishly, Abbida searched the consoles with her eyes. There had to be a lever somewhere to close the hatch with!
A sudden, shrilling sound pierced the air and one of the displays prompted them with a bright orange message. An alarm? Squinting, Abbida tried to read the characters: they resembled the word ‘cabin’. Against the pressure of her harness Abbida pushed forward and bumped the button with her fist. She was rewarded with a hissing sound from the hatch as it moved over the gaping entrance and sealed it. The moaning of the wind was cut off. The alarm stopped.
Shaking and almost deaf, Abbida stared through the window panel. They were breaking through the clouds, and sun light flooded the cabin. Only for the blink of an eye, before the window darkened. They were flying!
Far below, inside the generator house, Tarek slipped out of the gutter, and shoved the canal grate back in its place. With the aid of his slingshot he downed two guards, swiftly and quietly, picking up his projectiles as he slipped past them. In the general confusion he snuck past the soldiers who were busy manning the remaining aircraft. Keeping low, he ran towards the meeting hall where his family was being held captive.
~ to be continued! ~
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