Today’s Scribillare entry is something extra special : a snippet from an ongoing novel from one of our favorite submitting authors. In the spirit of supporting all types of writing we encourage you to submit your own pieces to be featured here on the page. You can find the appropriate email in our About section. And now, without more ado, step into Tales From The Wasteland:
The engine roared as Frek shifted gears, sending the mechanical shriek into new decibel destruction, barely blocking out the vicious drumbeats erupting from cracked and dusty speakers. If one could fly as high as the deep desert buzzards above Frek and his screaming combustion creation as it trundled confidently over the dunes, he and the machinery he rode would be but the tiniest speck amidst a white blur wasteland with no sign of life or movement. The picture could be described as “lonely” by some standards : luckily for Frek, he and his blood brother Dust Dogs did not understand such emotional concepts and thereby did not feel their barbs.
Slavering onto the patched passenger seat of Frek’s bizarro “dune buggy” was an animal that at some point in it’s evolutionary track could have been mistaken for a dog. Ropy muscle wrapped around a four-legged frame and a mouth full of terrible, skewed teeth that mostly resembled a pile of broken glass. The animal hurt the eyes almost as if it’s proportions were so near impossible that it should not exist. The creature had a name and it’s rheumy yellow eyes would pop wide when Frek shouted “Muk! Here!” but despite that he appeared more like a pile of fangs and painful, sore-ridden skin. A man and his “dog.” Driving. And driving. Frek navigated each dune as if he knew them from childhood. The two specks inside their bigger speck left only billowing dust in their wake.
Frek lapsed into thoughtfulness as he usually did on The Long Drive. The importance of his monthly mission was not lost upon him nor were the warnings of the First Refiner dull in his ears. The tribes of Xon all made their sojourns to the city of Vii. The Dust Dogs were no exception. Frek’s father and his father’s father had been Operators on The Long Drive and then back, back into the Way Before when the first First Refiner turned on the terrible machinery of Xon. Frek did not think long on the origins of his own tribe nor the origins of the others that lived out here in the Wastes, in the deep deserts that surrounded humanity’s last proper “city” there was little time or water left for introspection. Yet this Long Drive in particular had his mind in a way that not even the engine’s roar could dispel nor the pulsing beats of some Time Before shamans screaming their guttural chants over top instruments long, long forgotten.
“Why do you Ask when Xon is the only answer? ” That’s what the First Refiner would say if Frek’s mental wandering was communicated. And maybe it was, after all, the Refiners heard the voice of Xon in the “ka chunka chunka” of the Pipe. Still, something nagged fitfully at Frek : why out of all the tribes did Xon only speak to the Dust Dogs and their Refiners?
Frek had been to the other tribes’ enclaves when he was younger. No other tribe had a Machine quite like the Devil Dogs. No tribe commanded as many drums of the Slick as the Dogs! The power seat was clear to Frek and he could not wrap his own logic around sharing with the lesser tribes. The Long Drive made him feel uneasy now as the doubt crept nearer to his task at hand : if the tribes were lesser than surely the pale and pathetic denizens of Vii were even worse.
Frek hacked, spat, the spittle flying left past his scarred cheek into the dust whipping past. A waste of water, he knew, but the thought of Vii’s people disgusted him. People? Closer to mutts like Muk and even less useful. At least Muk and his kind buried their scat in the dirt and dust. The people of Vii let their waste flow into tubes and through some pathetic process they came to ingest it again. “Filtering! Waste management, my boy, it’s the way of Vii! Nothing wasted.” Last Passing that was the explanation from the Handler after Frek had made the last Long Drive to Vii. More nonsense, he suspected. Living on the massive mechanical corpse of cities from Way Back was all the people of Vii knew how to do and their reasons for doing so were equally fetid.
There was one way of life, the way of the Dust Dogs, of the tribes of the deep desert. Xon provided the Slick and it was the Refiners who made it proper. Slick remade powered the vehicles and a man needed a vehicle. It was the Way.
Frek gripped the wheel tighter and tried to free his mind from these wanderings. The Long Drive was too important to spend it thinking on nonsense. As if he agreed and could hear Frek’s thoughts, Muk uttered a bark of approval. Frek gave him a friendly shove, shifted into yet another higher gear and lost himself in the roar of his Machine.
A dog in the desert. That’s all that had to be thought.
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