A surprise snippet (sort of) from a story I’m working on called Giant Slayer. Originally started off as a way to deal with anxiety brought on by reading about climate change. It would appear my brain’s response was to take me to one of my fictional worlds. (I didn’t do much of a read over or edit.)
She woke up, a familiar scratching in her throat. Just something to get used to, Ursula thought idly to herself and rolled over.
It was the next day and she awoke to her brother shaking her shoulder.
“The village leaders are having an important meeting with each other,” Walter said, his brown eyes wide.
Ursula sat up and groaned. “I thought those weren’t until noon.”
He shook his head. “It’s getting too hot for those.” Walter stood up and threw her dress at her. “C’mon. Get dressed.”
Ursula changed out of her sleeping clothes and put on the patchwork dress. She didn’t bother with her shoes.
Walter was waiting for her, bouncing on the balls of his feet, his knobby knees shaking.
She gave her brother an odd look and followed him.
They village leaders were standing around one of their wells.
“The wells are drying up,” said a mustachioed leader. He twisted the thick, black thing on his face, barely taking notice of Ursula and Walter. “And it’s getting hotter again.”
Another man, one with a beard, nodded his head and adjusted his straw hat. “This is like in the old texts about the Before World.” He said. “I’ve spoken with leaders from nearby villages, who’ve spoken to leaders of their nearby villages and so on. Even the cities have reached out. They’re afraid it’s happening again.”
The village leader with bushy sideburns shook his head. “That’s just fools talk. We don’t do half of what the Before folk did.”
The bearded man shrugged. “Either way, our water supply is in trouble.”
Walter edged closer to Ursula.
It was then the two were noticed.
“What’re you doing here?” Asked their leader with the mustache.
Ursula looked down at her feet, avoiding eye contact like a proper soon-to-be lady. She elbowed Walter to make him speak up/
“I saw you meeting a lot earlier,” Walter said. “So I figured it was important and, if it’s my job to take care of Ursula now, I thought I should find out what it was.” He gave as stern of a nod as a twelve-year-old could manage.
The men huffed.
“Smart words for an idiot idea,” said the ones with sideburns.
“If I have to go out and get more water, I won’t leave Ursula behind.” Walter declared. “So she should know why—”
The bearded one spat. “You don’t have to tell her anything. Just give her an order and she’ll obey if she’s proper and smart.” He gave a nod. “But if you’re volunteering to get water,” the man stroked his beard. “We’ll accept the offer.”
Ursula, keeping her eyes hidden behind her bangs, was able to look at her brother. Or his feet for that matter. His toes were curling into the dry dirt. He was scared. It would appear their chance to escape had arrived much earlier than expected.