by Deborah Smythe
I fell to my knees, dragging Trey down with me. Or was it the other way around? The sand, oatmeal-thick as we ran, now burned like crushed glass. I knew oatmeal. Gramps uncovered a stash once. We'd full bellies for a month; made dodging suits easy.
Oatmeal I knew. The sand surprised me, and the sun. It wasn't this hot in-city, or this bright.
Trey lay on his back, chest heaving. That was a good sign. The blood soaking his pants leg wasn't. I fumbled the water bottle from my pack.
He turned away. "Don't waste it."
"Shut up and drink."
"How long before they get here?"
"Them?" I squinted down the beach at the oncoming suits. "We'll outrun 'em easy. Refuge can't be far now." Forcing a smile, I slipped the sparkle-stones from my pocket and nested them in seaweed. "One stone and we're in, Gramps was certain. Now drink. We gotta go."
Hands clasped around his leg, he shook his head.
"Trey." Tears choked my voice. "Maybe—"
"Do me now."
"Lost my knife," I whispered. "It'll have to be fire."
"Flint's gone. Run."
"I can make fire!"
Foam flecked his lips. "No time."
"Yes." Smoke, brine-sharp and fishy, tickled my nose. "There is." One of the stones had ignited the seaweed. The clear stone, a marriage rock Gramps called it.
"Smell that?" I shouted at the rotting meat suits, focusing on the one that used to be Gramps. "My husband ain't gonna turn suit!" Baby kicked agreement.