..... Disant Suns: The Journey Home by Patricia Smith.
The woman crossed to the window and moved the blind aside to peer apprehensively outside.
The sun had not risen yet – it would not rise for a few more hours – but still it was light. It was a strange sort of light. The sky was clear, not a cloud in sight, but the morning glow still possessed a dull, dreary, luminosity. The reflected glare of the grey lunar landscape, full and low in the pre-dawn sky, had combined with the dazzling intensity of a small second sun, to lift the ether to a hazy azure.
The once failed star Jupiter, no longer merely a brilliant celestial object, had officially gained sun status four years ago. Since then its potency had grown until its presence was felt throughout the Solar System. It would never radiate enough heat to breathe life into neighbouring planets but, as an additional sun, it had proved to be a formidable force and anything but a blessing.
It was light enough, she decided, for the task. Besides, Sol would rise in a couple of hours and if left until then it would be too late.
She replaced the blind against the frame, returning the room to darkness once again, before crossing to the door.
The cool night air was already receding and the temperature starting to rise as she stepped outside. In a few more hours it would be uncomfortable and by midday quite deadly.
She lifted a white scarf off her shoulders and draped it over her head as she scanned the road in both directions.
There was not much danger to look out for, as little life remained. Only the burrow dwelling insects – living off the carcasses of those that had fallen – and a number of small human communities endured. Amongst the last to go, they clung to life for as long as possible. The insects did not bother her, but the humans were a different matter.
She moved away from the cabin and hurried across the plain towards the valley at the far side.
Bones, baked in the unbridled sun, littered the landscape and the desiccated soil, now nothing more than clay and dust, was cracked and bare.
On the horizon, the receding moon silhouetted the shadows of lost lives as it dipped behind the skeletal remains of a once majestic forest and to the right a deep depression marked the position of a lake, now dried and barren, its former fertility validated by the shrivelled husks strewn across the base.
The woman stopped to catch her breath. The thin air made periods of exertion impossible and anything other than a casual walk was becoming increasingly difficult. Once recovered, she again checked she was not being followed before making her way to the edge of the valley and around the ravine.
The cave was close by and shielded, from the top, by densely packed shrubs. She pushed against the branches then, as the dried withered leaves crumbled in her hand, slid between wood and rock until she slipped into the cool dark interior of the cliff.
Every day she feared the worst and every day she was relieved to find they still had not been discovered. She dropped to her knees and checked the contents of the first.This small cavern, cut out of the rock thousands of years ago by wind and rain, provided the perfect environment for her water gathering devices. The cave, slightly cooler than the outside air, accumulated moisture, in the depths of night, which was then collected in small jugs beneath plastic sheets. A number of such devices scattered around the floor provided just enough water for the two of them to survive.
Sounds good, right?
Today I'm delighted to bring you the prologue of Patricia's Smith new book, Distant Suns - The Journey Home, which should be available on Amazon sites in the next day or so.
And in the meantime ......
HERE is Husband dearest's review of Disant Suns and my INTERVIEW with Tricia.
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