Linda Maye Adams

Writing in Public, Story 4, Scene 4

Cover showing a rugged stream as a man stands on a rock overlooking it4

Eleri woke to the crackle and pop of a fire and its warmth flowing over her.  She was under what appeared to be all their wool blankets, laying close to the fire.  From the angle of the sun, it was around noon.

Movement stirred behind her.  Morgan.  “Thank God!  I thought—”

He broke off, turning his head away from her.

Eleri sat up slowly, checking to see if her arms and legs were working.  Her shoulders were sore, bruised maybe.  How had that happened?  She still felt strange—had she really been to another place, or had it been her imagination?

She hid her hands under the scratchy blanket to hide the trembling.  Morgan would think she was ill, not that she was scared.

“What did you see?” she asked.

Morgan had to pace for a few minutes, frenetically, before he could find words.

“You’ll think I’m crazy,” he finally blurted.

Eleri was relieved.  “I think I’m crazy.  What did you see?”

He sat on the ground and gave her some dried fruit from their precious supply, watching her nibble on it.  She did not press, giving him time to come around to it.

He stretched out his hands towards the fire, spreading the fingers out.  “I never seen anything like it before.  There was a hole in the air.”

“A hole?  You mean like a hole in a fence?”

“Kind of.  Except that this silver light was showing through.  You were halfway in it like it wanted to eat you.  I think it wanted to pull you in, but I held on to your shoulders.”

Eleri told him what she had experienced in the sliver world.  She didn’t try to hide the shaking now.  Until he mentioned the hole—in the air!—she’d been thinking it had been a dream.  It was real, and yet it couldn’t possibly real … and how was she supposed to fix the tears?

He had to get up again and pace again.  Yup.  She knew how he felt.  Twice, he started to say something, and then he launched in pacing again.

“Honestly,” he said, “I don’t know what to think.  I know that everyone who travels to Manchester has looked for the source of contamination.  There are so many streams connected to the Great River that we thought there must be something common.  Water constantly changes direction.  I went out a month ago and tried to find that mystery stream…and nothing.  And others have tried to.”

He stopped pacing, falling silent.

“I know that if we can’t find the contamination,” he continued, “it’ll reach the Great River and we won’t have any drinking water.”

Eleri twisted a fistful of blanket.  Her throat was tight.  She didn’t have to have water magic to know how deadly that was.  She thought about her conversation with the silver woman, and the desperation she had heard in her voice.

The damage was spreading.  They might be close to the point where it might not be fixable.

“I want to try,” she said softly.

She wished she knew what she was doing.  She hoped she wasn’t going to make it worse.

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