[panic] Runtime 537382 Unrecoverable Error
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[info] Reaping Environment...
[debug] Environment Reclaimed
[info] — INITIALIZING —
[info] Genomic Matrix: 6385-H26
[info] Loading Scenario: JR-00062 – THE DIVIDE - MP
[info] Environment Selected: H26-Terra
[info] Rendering Environment...
[info] Runtime 537383 Starting
“This can’t be real,” Salem says. “This can’t be real!”
He’s panicking. Hyperventilating. It’s not surprising. The boy hasn’t had to fight—or run—for his life before. If he hadn’t run away and joined the Modernists, he might have picked up some skills from watching me. While the rest of Essex might call me ‘Eight’ behind my back, they wouldn’t dare offend the ‘great hunter’ when I’m standing in front of them, wielding a spear. To Salem, I’m ‘mother.’
The last thing a teenaged boy wants to learn from his mother is how to be a man. But the man who raised him is a monster, and he will likely kill us both if he sees us again.
Though that seems highly unlikely.
Not only are we on the far side of the Divide, a hundred miles from home, we’re also being hunted by the Golyat.
The monster responsible for destroying the old world knows we’ve crossed the Divide. And after it kills our small band of idiots, it’s going to cross over and finish the job it started five hundred years ago.
The brick home we’re hiding in has stood the test of time and kept its three skeletal occupants from turning to dust. But it’s no defense against the fifty-foot-tall creature I just saw roast a man alive.
“I hope you’re happy,” I say to Plistim. He’s out of breath. Hands on his knees. I’d leave him behind if the others didn’t follow his every word. They’d stay with him until the end. And since I don’t want Salem, Shua, or Dyer to be slain, I’m stuck trying to lead them to safety…which is nowhere to be found on this side of the Divide. It’s a fool’s errand, but here we are, kick-starting humanity’s final act. Fools, one and all.
I wonder how the story will end.
Well, not how it ends. What comes after.
When Essex is gone and the last person killed, what will the Golyat have left to do? Will it sleep? Will it die? Maybe the planet will be better off without us. I try to imagine what that would look like.
Alive…passing through time without anyone to keep record.
I smile. It’s not the worst… What’s the word? Denouement. Is that right? It sounds right, but how would I know? Unlike most people, I can read and write. A benefit of being the daughter of an Elder and the eighth wife of another. But I don’t tell stories. No one does.
So why do I know about story structure?
A shadow passes by a fist-sized hole in the wall.
The ground shakes. Once, twice…
“Get down!” I shout, tackling Salem to the floor.
The outer wall where I’d stood is swept away. Debris and dust fall around us, obscuring my view. Choking my lungs. I force myself up. “We need to get out of here!”
The house shakes from an impact. The ceiling above cracks. A grinding roar fills the air.
“Here!” Holland shouts. The man who’s been mostly useless thus far, aside from owning a compass and a map, is holding open a door.
But to where?
Shua helps Plistim through the door and they descend. There’s a basement.
“We’ll be trapped!” I shout.
“I’m a coward,” Holland shouts, “not a fool.”
I disagree with his assessment, but when Dyer heads down the stairs, Salem follows. And where Salem goes, I—
The top half of the house is cleaved away. I’m struck down by debris, but most of it flies away into the night.
Another strange roar draws my eyes skyward. A twisting breeze tugs away the dust, giving me a clear view of the Golyat. Its orange eyes blaze down at me. Its hungry core flares to life, an engine designed for digestion.
What’s an ‘engine?’
The hulking thing rises up, its tendril hair swaying, the tall spines on its back flexing.
I’m locked in place, an unmoving deer staring down the hunter.
“Davina!” Holland shouts, snapping me out of the trance. I sprint for the stairwell. “Go, go, go!” Holland rushes down the steps. Behind him, I slam into the door jamb and throw myself down the stairs, pursued by a wave of scalding heat.
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