Don’t forget to vote for  The Bridge!  It takes 2 clicks and really helps!

I’ll be providing the entire story here for free for a limited time.  In return, I ask that you tell a friend about Chapter 1!  The only way others find out about my work is through word of mouth.

***

“Keep together,” I shouted, moving down the line, the retinas of others reflecting my light as I drifted past. “And keep moving. We’re almost there!”

Being weightless, especially being weightless in the dark, was far more difficult than I anticipated. Twice, my head slammed against the ceiling or wall after a misjudged kick or a slip against the thin layer of moisture coating present on every surface. Each movement threatened to bring me in a collision course with the fragile thread of people making their way forward, promising to create destructive waves among the already tense crowd. And with each group of people I passed, the fractures grew wider, the panic more palpable, the people clinging more desperately to the sight of my light like a breath of fresh air.

“You, Ben and Asher!” I shouted at a particularly large gap, positioning myself in the center and addressing those on my left and right. “Reach towards me; we need to join your two segments. Ben, slow your side down. Asher, speed up. That’s it! Here, take hold!”

Each of them gripped one of my hands, stretching me apart as I tried to pull them together, my chest muscles straining while being careful to keep the draw smooth and continuous. One jerk from the center had the potential to cause fractures on both ends of the line, tripling the problems in my immediate vicinity. But over the course of a minute, the distance closed as we drifted forward. Their fingers fastened, locking together the chain so I could move to the next link. And the next. And the next.

Until after several hundred people, the groups stopped entirely. Individuals peppered the hall, bouncing to wall to wall in lost desperation, their voices crying out as they searched for lost loved ones.

“This way!” I shouted, my light drawing them forward. “Past me and forward! Join the main while you can. You, Dan, how far back were you in the initial line?”

“Slightly past half,” replied the former gardener, his body upside down in comparison to my own. “There are many behind us, Horatius. Are you sure, are you sure that what we are seeking exists at the end of this?”

“Positive,” I answered, fighting to keep my voice confident. “Absolutely positive. Keep moving and don’t let the others stray.”

“Will do,” he answered. “I’m trusting you, Horatius. I was always among those who adopted your methods. And I can only hope you are right once more.”

Then he disappeared, and I dove further into the darkness, searching out movement, tracking down sounds. Looking for life.

“You!” shouted a voice from my right as claw-like fingers dug deep into my forearm and a weight slammed into my side. Yelping, I nearly lost grip of the stun gun as a wrinkled face entered into my vision, and I reeled backwards as it broke into a snarl and released a wailing voice.

“You led us into death, Horatius – at least back home, we had light! What have you done for us, you have manufactured the death of our children. You have sealed our fates!”

Spittle flew into my face with each word as I struggled to recognize the face, eventually realizing it was Granny Vitula, a woman who had spent most of her life in the background of the ship’s population. She had been one of the few old enough to escape work, and spending the majority of her days alone, sometimes accompanied by those who wished to consult her memory. A memory that age had started to claim and came in pieces, often recounting past events as far more golden than they had actually been.

“You – you’re almost there,” I stammered, shocked to see her reduced to this state, wincing as her nails dug deeper.

“Almost to death!” she howled. “Almost to starvation, almost to –”

“No, listen! I can help you get there, I can –” But her wailing cut off my words, and I shook my arm as her nails broke skin, dislodging her, and spoke again, my voice shaking as I pointed and gave her thrashing body a push in the right direction.

“T-that way, go now! Follow the line!” Then I kept moving, trying to clear my head. There were far more others to rescue, others who sought salvation. And with limited time, I could not afford to help her.

But as I found others, and as I searched, her words still echoed in my head. Words I desperately hoped were false.

You led us into death! You sealed our fates!

***

Don’t forget to vote for  The Bridge!  It takes 2 clicks and really helps!

I’ll be providing the entire story here for free for a limited time.  In return, I ask that you tell a friend about Chapter 1!  The only way others find out about my work is through word of mouth.