The Whisper

The Whisper by Aaron Starmer Read Free Book Online

Book: The Whisper by Aaron Starmer Read Free Book Online
Authors: Aaron Starmer
heard of him, is all.”
    â€œHe’s famous?”
    â€œI don’t know,” Alistair said. “He had an older brother. A guy named Kyle.”
    â€œHad?” Polly asked. “Kyle died?”
    â€œI don’t know,” Alistair said. “Forget I even mentioned it.”
    â€œYou’re homesick,” Polly said as she took another bite. “It’ll fade.”
    God, I hope not, Alistair thought. He wanted such a virulent strain of homesickness that it would compel him to do the impossible, to find Fiona and bring her back and straighten out all the bent things in his life.
    â€œAre you sure there isn’t a way—”
    A whoosh cut off Alistair’s voice as a curved, sharpened stick flipped through the air and lodged itself in the soft ground at their feet. Alistair jerked his head around. A woman from the settlement was standing about twenty yards away, her face twitching with anger.
    â€œNot good.” Polly hopped up, snatched her space helmet.
    The woman’s feet were bare. Alistair was wearing her boots. “I thought you were friendly with them,” he said.
    â€œPfff. Friends are friendly, and no one is friends with a god,” Polly replied as she tucked the helmet under her arm.
    â€œIf she thinks you’re a god, then why is she throwing things at us?”
    â€œWell, you always gotta have a few atheists. Let’s move!” And with that, Polly was off running.
    Alistair paused for a moment to see if the woman would simply chase after Polly and leave him alone.
    â€œMonster! Demon!” howled the woman, her eyes fixed on Alistair.
    That settled that. So Alistair started running too, following in Polly’s path. They kept to the woods, hurdling stones and ducking under branches. Considering she was wearing a spacesuit, Polly was incredibly nimble, and Alistair struggled to keep up. Luckily, he was fast enough to outrun the woman, but only barely.
    This neck of the forest was even more brilliant than the rest. Everything was more . The butterflies and mushrooms were more plentiful, more colorful. Ferns and orchids were more luscious and fragrant. Tree bark was more gnarled and branches more twisted. It was a storybook forest.
    Within a few minutes, they reached a pond, its surface adorned with lily pads. Polly stood along the edge, waiting for Alistair. The sounds of the woman—her footfalls cracking sticks, her grunts and snarls of frustration—were getting louder, and Alistair held his hands up behind his head to shield it from projectiles. It threw off his balance and he wasn’t sure how far he could run like that. He desperately hoped that Polly had a plan.
    â€œJump in,” Polly ordered as soon as Alistair reached her.
    The water was about twenty yards in diameter and appeared to be no more than four or five feet deep. An old-fashioned swimming hole—fine for a dip on a hot summer day, but for protection from a homicidal cavewoman?
    â€œAre you crazy?” Alistair asked.
    â€œFar from it,” Polly said, and she took a shallow dive from a rotten log on the banks.
    The woman tromped toward them, now within thirty or forty yards. “Monster!” she screamed again.
    Polly’s head surfaced in the center of the pond, her hair darker now and smoothed against the sides of her face. She resembled a seal, until she pulled her helmet up from the water, dumped it out, and snapped it into place on her shoulders. She kept the mask open so that she could speak. “If you don’t think you’re a strong enough swimmer, then grab my ankle. I’m watertight in this thing and I can pull you where you need to go. Even if you think you can keep up, you better jump in, because this gal will catch you and she will kill you. I guarantee it.”
    As Polly snapped her mask down, Alistair crouched on a rock and swept some fingers across the water. It was normal water—wet, chilly, nothing to indicate it

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