2012 Copyright by Linda Jordan
Published by Metamorphosis Press
Cover photo by Kribosheevv
Mirage stood in the cool shade of the doorway looking out at the traveling marketplace set up in the canyon of tall, gray buildings. The air smelled of blood from the vendor’s meat. The scent and texture of dry dust clung to everything in this mostly deserted city.
Beyond the marketplace, she could see the rumbling Shadow which hovered at the edge of the city like a huge, low raincloud, oppressive and smothering, lightening flashing. Those left here were the last. And all of them, except the crazies, would leave within a day or so. As the Shadow advanced.
She watched a ragged guy, close to her own age, steal a dried out carrot from a vegetable seller’s discard bucket and run between the vendor’s stalls. The dirt covered man yelled at the kid, but didn’t take chase. That would have left his quality stuff open to theft.
Later in the day, the seller would probably trade the discard bucket’s contents for meat. Animal feed was hard to come by when they were on the run. Most people didn’t bother to plant anymore. They were never in one place long enough. Vegetable sellers had huge wagons, pulled by draft horses, that were planted intensively. Some grew plants in only water. There was a movement among some of the livestock growers to plant fields for the next group of nomads to harvest and hope that group would do the same. A good karma sort of thing. She couldn’t picture it going anywhere. No one really knew what happened to the land once the Shadow rolled over it. They’d never been back. And ever since the Shadow had appeared, people had become mean and stingy. Or maybe they’d always been that way and she had been too young to notice it before.