by Esther Davis
Klon’s voice rasped as he shouted to his wife. But she didn’t duck beneath the stone table or make for the cellar. Instead, Jini stepped next to him at the window, cradling their child in her arm. “They broke through the defenses, didn’t they?” she asked, emotionless.
High above, violet lightning flashed across the billowing fumes of poisonous clouds.
They ran into the grey night, Klon in the lead, Jini not far behind with the baby still tucked beneath her arm. Fellow Droggians rushed from towers, panicked, in chaos. But Klon and Jini knew their destination.
The cartilage antennae that the women of her species donned whipped behind Jini as they pushed through the confused crowd. Through their sensors, she could feel the atmosphere’s electrical crackling, thousands of feet above.
Jini knew the planetary defenses would never hold. Yet she’d hoped.
Because hope let her live.
Her clawed feet propelled Jini up the rocky incline, away from the forest of towers, into the city of trees with trunks wider than ten men.
“Is it ready?” Jini shouted. “Will it work?”
Klon didn’t reply, only continued to climb.
The ground shook. Jini tumbled forward, pulling in her child and protecting him with her bony body as she fell. Young Xa let out a gasp, then a cry.
When the earthquake stopped, Jini stood. She bounced her child, hushing him. Klon placed a sticky hand on her shoulder. Jini raised her eyes and followed his gaze.
A spacecraft, long and slender and monstrous in size, stabbed into a distant field like a sword. Earth piled around its blade. Purple lightning spewed from its side.
Yes, the Enemy had broken through. Her species lost the war that Jini knew they could never win. Soon Drogg, their beloved home, would die.
Jini bent over her child sobbing. Her antennae fell limp, laying flat on her back.
“Come,” Klon said.
She let Klon’s firm hand guide her through the trees to the silver pod. Bits of sap speckled the outside. A beetle licked at one of the larger drops, oblivious to the dying world around it. Klon’s curled his amphibious fingers around the handle and slid the hatch open.
“There should be enough rations to last a few months. Fuel too,” Klon said. “After that, someone should take us in.”
A dim glow lit the pod’s single room. Jini sank into the bed, enjoying gravity while it still lasted.
The surrounding metal hummed, the engine coming to life.
Jini held Xa close, feeling her baby’s silent, sleeping breaths. The Cyntathian Federation, the space gypsies, the human colonies—someone, someone would take them in. The Droggians had few friends, but not all called them enemies. Xa could still grow into a man. He would.
“We will live,” Jini whispered.
Because hope would let them live.
Big thank you to Mohammad for requesting this writing sketch about your artwork! I really enjoyed piecing the world and characters together. Mohammad does a fantastic job with his art and has a short animation on the way, too. Make sure to check him out!
Next month I’ll have a belated Valentine’s sketch for all y’all, a fun flash fiction piece inspired by my stay in Japan. If you want a reminder email, make sure to subscribe or follow me on Twitter @EstherDDavis.