Dust - Expedition


“Whoa! She crumbled” Jared stared down. 

Of course he had to touch it, Elena thought, men can’t appreciate anything they can’t touch. “Didn’t I say something about not touching anything.” 

“I didn’t.” That sounded a bit plaintive even for him. “I just wanted to look at something on her skin.”
It was a good thing that her eye roll didn’t add a chorus to her already restrained sigh. She shook her head and walked back out of the house on the outskirts of a town that must be abandoned. Nothing moved, not even a breeze. Elena was glad that she had photographic evidence before Jared breathed it out of existence. “Come on, and try not to stare too closely at the art next time, however weird that it was in a tub.” 

Elena didn’t understand the grumbled reply, and frankly didn’t want to make a big deal of it. They were already tight on their schedule, so many new places to go with a new satellite making its way across the surface of the Sphere, they had five hours allocated to explore this town and make contact with its inhabitants, though that was looking less likely now. 

She turned on her mag-belt and willed herself forward, picking up speed down the slightly overgrown street. Elena resisted the urge to speed ahead of Jared, but came to a reasonable velocity and maintained it for the next two kilometers until they came into the town. No radio or any other signals hailed her as she sped along. 

She hopped up onto a sidewalk, and came around a corner and someone was in front of her, no time to dodge, not even the belt’s automatic system had time to redirect her momentum and she plowed right into him. Through him, him maybe. A dust cloud expanded around her as her belt brought her to a jarring stop. 

“Oh look who’s destroying art now,” Jared certainly looked ready to crow, she could feel it as she surveyed the damage. “You only left his feet from the ankles down. Ha!” 

It was hard to maintain her composure, but she managed to walk over and take a picture of the decapitated feet without throwing something. Shoes really, silver just like the one in the tub. They looked like an old type of shoe from the twentieth century, maybe the man wasn’t naked like the woman Jared had practically drooled on. And was it considered decapitation if only the feet remained? Essentially, she guessed. 

“Oh boss, it feels like we are being watched. Look.” 

She whipped around, expecting either a threat or someone trying to hide from them, but it was a street with many more people statues. All the burnished silver of the first statue, standing stock-still in very natural poses. Even the three story buildings lining the street had a few people in windows.
“Someone must’ve spent quite a bit of time arranging these, but they’re so fragile how do they survive the wind?” 

“If your heavy breathing blew away that statue then it must be abnormally still here. Or this happened very recently.” That brought disturbing possibilities to her mind, but the air quality sensor-suite still had no warnings, much less dire alerts. 

“The buildings and everything only look slightly neglected, so it must have been somewhat recently.”
“Let’s see if we can find a food store, or something like that where we might find some dates.” Elena suppressed a shiver, Jared would be upset to learn that she would want a full decon when they reached their hopper. 

“Good idea, boss, but do think it’s just because they have archaic architecture that they would have a…” history and vocab were not Jared’s strengths, “Grocery?” 

“Something like that,” She had to chuckle. “Let’s split up, you take west and I will take east.” 

They had wandered toward another statue down the street, so Elena back-tracked to go east. As she came to the first intersection again she couldn’t help but look at the decapitated feet again. Except they were no longer just feet, but calves as well.

***This may become a series, but for now enjoy!

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