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The Always-House People
By S. A. Barton
Copyright 2012 S. A. Barton
Cover art copyright 2012 by Erik Elliott
Find other stories by S.A. Barton on his Smashwords profile.
Ba'el left the summer camp of the Goat People early, in the gloaming before dawn. He carried a good spear tipped with a flint he had knapped the day before and wore a heavy goatskin skirt to shield his groin from the rubbing of grasses. From a belt over one shoulder hung two gourds on leather thongs, one of water and one of roasted cracked wheat. They slapped a rhythm against his back as his leather-tough feet ate the distance between him and World’s Edge. When his path crossed a spring or stream he drank all of his water-gourd and filled it again. He did not touch the wheat, but ate the tender shoots of reeds and the fat water bugs that lived among them. The wheat was for when he could not find other food; he did not know how far he would wander, but it might be for many days. When he passed goats and antelope, his hand tightened on his spear but he did not stalk them. He did not wish to spend time slaughtering game or weigh himself down with carrying meat.