Something I was working on last week. I needed to take a break from second edits (of Smoulder and re-boot), This is from Book 3 in the LONERS series…
Turning, we began to navigate a path between what passed for trees on this planet, crumbling stone pillars with tufts of decaying organic matter. The further Derek and I descended into the forest, the taller and thicker these unusual growths got. The smell was worse than month-old rotting horses arse. Varying from sewage, to sulphur gas, to heavy ammonia. My head reeled, making it difficult to focus on where to put my foot next. I just hoped that breathing this air wasn’t going to slowly infect our lungs with an alien virus or bacteria.
Derek had latched onto my arm, intently shadowing every move. Stepping into my footprints, a sheen of sweat condensed to heavy droplets drenching his tattered and stained business shirt. His eyes darted everywhere at once, wide and bulging like a skittish horse. I wanted to shake him off, force him to stop breathing down my neck. But worried he’d knock me off balance, or climb on my back at the first noise, I let him be… at least he was quiet.
Maybe Derek’s incessant drivel would have been better than some of the ominous sounds coming from deeper in the stink-tree-pillars ahead of us.
I crouched hearing movement close overhead. Staring up into the dim, unable to identify the source, my free hand unclipped the gun.
Before Derek could ask what it was, I pressed a finger to my lips. He nodded, swallowing loudly.
Two minutes passed.
Spikes whistled through the air, embedding into the ground five metres to our right. A slug the size of a small dog dropped onto a mossy patch a moment later, motionless. Spines matching the ones littering the ground jutted from its carcass. The instant the wet body hit the ground a mustard coloured cloud puffed from the bed of moss it had landed on. A frustrated shriek came from above, followed by rustles of movement, and clawing over the hard tree surface, which slowly faded. Whatever hunted from above, luckily, moved to another hunting ground.
But the slug, caught in the yellow gas began to dissolve.
Derek tugged at me.
“My guess is acid. That moss stuff probably feeds like a fly, discharging a stomach acid and absorbing nutrients through osmosis.” I explained.
“So if I puke I’ll be feeding the ground?” He turned an even sicker shade and rubbed at his midsection.
“Just don’t chunder on that brown leafy stuff. I like my skin.”
“Then make sure you swallow.”
“We’re descending into a deeper level of Hell.”