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Stuck in the Dust

Short Story by Ellery Seymour

The tank top Rave wore did nothing to protect her arms from the attacking neon dust blowing through the air. She squinted, trying to see anything, but her hair was blowing around and the dust was a wall, keeping her from seeing anything. She turned and retreated to her ship. As she climbed inside the rocket, she sighed loudly. “How am I going to get any fuel on this planet?” she cried out. She stood up and walked to the mirror. Her dark hair was to her shoulders. However, the band she used to cover the scar that ranged over her face was way too long. She walked to the mirror and grabbed a pair of scissors. She hacked off an inch or two of the bangs. It ended at the corner of her mouth. Rave pressed a button on the wall for a robot to come and clear away the chunks of hair. Rave dropped down onto the bed attached to the wall. She looked up and saw the empty bed above. She shook her head. Not now. Not when you’re low on fuel Rave thought to herself. She shook her head again. How was she going to get fuel? She stood up. Nothing was going to get done sitting around. She grabbed a backpack off the wall and began throwing essentials in. “Auto-tent, Food-packs, glow lights, water bottles and purifier, extra clothes, money of all sorts,” she muttered. Her hand paused as she looked at her ray gun. The peeling black and white paint brought back terrible memories. Nothing she wanted to remember. “You need it Rave, in case something bad happens,” she told herself. She grabbed it and set it on a table along with extra ammunition. She set her backpack onto a chair and went to change. A tank top and shorts wasn’t going to help her. She threw on a pair of long cargo pants and a random shirt that didn’t smell too bad. Rave grabbed the pair of old boots from under her bunk and slipped them onto her feet. She finally grabbed her Zip-Jack and put it on. Her Zip-Jack was a special edition jacket, including the health patch to help her out with medical emergencies. She grabbed a holster and wrapped it around her waist, shoving the ray gun into it. “That’s it Rave,” she muttered. As she was climbing out of her rocket, she remembered how the dust attacked her earlier. She darted back in and grabbed a pair of goggles and a bandana. She pulled the goggles over her eyes and the bandana over her mouth. She was ready to go.

As she climbed outside, the dust began attacking. She coughed but continued to walk forward. Rave hoped she would find a city on this planet, though she had no idea. She’d never been here. I’m so stupid. I didn’t reload on gas before I left the last galaxy stop Rave cursed. So, she walked on. Dust of blues, pinks, and yellows attacked her as she walked. It nipped her skin causing cuts and bleeding. Not that any of this stopped Rave. She had been exploring the universe for a year or so. Years of training at the academy. Nothing really surprised her anymore. She had seen a lot. Rave soon began squinting through her tinted goggles. It was hard to see anything in front of her hands. She pulled off her goggles and realized it was night. The two suns had left the sky, and no moon was to be seen. She grabbed her backpack off her shoulders and grabbed a glow light. She shook the circular object and it lit up quickly. She dug through her pack and grabbed her Auto-Tent. She threw it on the ground and watched a tent fit for two pop up. She crawled inside. The tent was equipped with lights and two beds, a luxury for space explorers. She ripped her boots off and rubbed her aching feet. Rave took off the holster and pulled off her Zip-Jack. She stretched and grabbed a Food-pack. She turned it and found the small red button on the corner. She clicked it and watched a meal appear in her hands. She ripped open the package to find red beans and rice. Rave eat it quickly, drinking some of the water she was able to find in her rocket. As she finished her meal, a wave of sleepiness hit her. She stumbled toward one of the beds and fell into it, not bothering to turn a light off.

Rave awoke to a scuffling sound on the floor of her tent. She peeled her sleep filled open and saw a small little monster on the floor. One she had never seen in outside of a textbook. It was small enough to hold in your hand, made of fluff and had two feet sticking out. A giant eye was stuck in the midst of the yellow fluff sea. Rave screamed a dove for her ray gun. She held it in her trembling hands. The creature shook in fear, staring at her. Rave shook her head. She knew the flashback would come back; it still hit her like a cinderblock.

“Rave, please,” Jay pleaded. His charcoal eyes stared at her, pleading. “Raven,” he cried, “The venom is already in my blood system. It’s going to take control. I-I can’t be the one to hurt you.” Jay is on his knees, tears rolling down his face. Rave, or Raven which is her real name, glanced at the dead creature behind him. It lay in the dirt, but the spike full of venom was no longer attached to the tail. She knew the thing was cruel. It had attacked her and Jay, leaving behind a huge scratch along her cheek. “J-jay, I can’t kill you,” Rave cried out. Tears formed in her eyes. Jay looked up to her, his auburn hair falling over his eyes. “Raven, the venom will control me and I’ll try to kill you. I can feel the urge. I w-want to kill you. There’s no escape from it. If you kill me now, you’ll be doing a favor,” Jay rasped out. Raven moved her hand to her ray gun. She held it, pointing it towards Jay’s head. Tears fell rapidly down her face. Her hands trembled, the gun shaking. “Jay, m-maybe there’s a-another way,” Rave stuttered out. Jay looked up, staring into her grey eyes. “You know there isn’t. Please Raven please,” he sobbed through gritted teeth. His fists were clenched, and his eyes were closed. Raven bent down and kissed Jay’s forehead. “I-I love you Jay,” she cried as she pulled the trigger.

Rave was snapped out of the flashback. Tears rolled down her face as she remembered killing her friend. Best Friend. Only friend. Space Exploring partner. And she killed him. She looked down and saw the little yellow creature on the floor. “I-I’m sorry,” she muttered. She lowered the gun to the floor and slumped to the floor. Tears continued to fall. She cried out loudly, remembering the funeral, remembering the lonely rocket, remembering everything she suppressed. Everything only weeks before this day. The creature crept toward Rave. It came, jumped onto her lap, and climbed up her arm to her neck. It nuzzled into her neck as she cried on the floor. Eventually, Rave calmed down, pushing the memories behind the wall again. She sat up and looked at the creature that had fallen into the palm of her hand. “I’m sorry for crying. Bad memory. Is there a city near here? One that could fuel a rocket originally from Earth?” she said quietly. The creature made a single squeak. “Is one squeak yes, two squeaks no?” she asked. The creature squeaked again. Rave nodded. “Could you bring me there?” Rave asked. The creature was silent for a minute, and then gave out a squeak. Raven stood up and placed the fluff ball onto the floor. “I have to grab my stuff,” she said. She grabbed her Zip-Jack and pulled it on. Quickly, she pulled on her boots and pulled her holster back around her waist. Finally, she placed her goggles on her forehead, not ready to cover her eyes. “You ready little guy?” she asked. It gave two squeaks. “What do you need?” she asked. The thing hopped around and looked for something. Eventually, it found her water bottle. “Water?” she asked. The creature squeaked once. Rave bent down and opened the lid. The creature quickly fell into the water and sat there for a moment before getting out. Raven figured that’s how the creature got food and drink. “Good now?” Raven questioned. The creature squeaked once. Raven bent down and grabbed the creature. She placed it on her shoulder and pulled her goggles over her eyes. She grabbed her backpack from the floor and put a strap on only one shoulder. She climbed out of her tent.

​As she stood outside, dust began flying around. She searched for the closing button and hit it. The tent composed back into the small cube it usually was. She shoved it into her backpack and straightened up. “Hey, squeak when I’m pointing in the direction the city is,” Rave yelled over the wind and dust throughout the air. She began turning in a circle. Suddenly, the fluff ball squeaked loudly. Raven began walking in that direction, praying the thing wasn’t bringing her to her doom. Through the day they trekked. It was long and hard. Raven’s feet ached. She could feel blisters forming on her heels. The little fluff ball sat on her shoulder as she walked. It would occasionally squeak at her when she needed to change directions. When Rave couldn’t see through her goggles she decided it was time to stop for the night. “Hey little guy, we’re gonna stop for the night!” Rave screamed through the wind. The creature squeaked once. Rave crouched down and dug through her bag and found her glow light. She shook it until it glowed in her hands. She grabbed her Auto-Tent and threw it onto the ground. It popped up into the large tent. As she walked into the tent, she could see far in the distance a small glowing light. That must be the city this little fluff ball is leading me to Rave thought.

​Rave let the little fluff ball onto the kitchen table in the room. “Are you hungry? Do you need anything?” Raven asked. The fluff ball squeaked twice. “Okay, well I’m going to eat something. I didn’t eat breakfast or lunch,” she said. Rave set her backpack down and dug around for another food pack. After finding one, she sat down in one of the two chairs. Rave took off her boots. She had big red blisters on her heels. She sighed and hit the red button on her food pack. Rave ripped open the silver packaging to find Pad Thai. She dug in, eating it quickly. Raven turned to talk to her traveling companion, but it seemed to be asleep. Its eye was closed. “Okay, just me I guess,” Rave said to herself. She found a pair of pajamas in a drawer next to one of the beds and quickly changed into them. Rave crawled into bed and fell asleep.

​Rave woke up to the sound of scuffling in her tent. She peeled her eyes open and saw the little creature was awake and trying to open her water bottle she left on the table. “Hey, I’ll open that for you,” she yawned. Rave got up and shuffled towards the table. She opened the lid and lay it down on the table. The little creature crawled inside and sat inside of the bottle. Rave walked back toward her backpack and grabbed a breakfast bar. She pulled off the wrapper and bit into it. The flavor of cereal and milk flooded her taste buds. “Tastes like breakfast before school,” she muttered. After finishing the bar, she turned to the yellow fluff ball. “The city you’re leading me to it close right?” Rave asked. The creature gave one yelp. “Okay, I’m going to put on my gear then we’ll head out,” she replied. The creature turned around and Raven quickly put on her dust covered clothes. She finally pulled on her goggles. “All right buddy, let’s go,” she said. She reached out her hand and the little creature jumped on. Rave set it down onto her shoulder and stepped out of the tent. The dust started whipped around them harshly. Rave could see the glimmering city in the distance. She walked towards the beautiful haven that was the city. After about an hour of marching forward, she had reached the city. It looked like a glass bubble surrounded giant, shimmering towers. “Hey, how do I get in?” Rave yelled into the wind. The little creature proceeded to jump off her shoulder and hop through the glass bubble. What Rave wondered. She reached out to touch the glass, but her hand fell right through. “Whoa,” she said in awe. Rave stepped through the bubble into the haven of the city.

​Rave brushed off all the dust that had gathered on her through the trek. She looked around for the little creature who had delivered her here, but he was nowhere to be seen. I guess it went home Raven thought. “Now where to find a fuel station,” she said aloud. Rave began walking around the street, reading the signs. There were hundreds of translations on the signs, Human being on the bottom. After hours of searching, Raven felt defeated. She slouched down onto the street where she stood. “What a waste! There must not be any fuel station on this stinking planet!” Rave yelled. She buried her head into her arms. Rave breathed and tried calm herself down. After gathering her wits, raven straightened up and rubbed her eyes. And to her astonishment, a small shop right in front of her had the words “FUEL” labeled on the door. Rave cursed herself, stood up, and walked inside the shop.

​A little bell rang as Rave opened the door to the shop. She looked around. The store was covered in dust and grime, like no one had been there for months. “Hello?” she said. Suddenly, a boy walked into the room from behind a closed door. “Hi! I thought I heard the bell, but I thought I was dreaming,” the boy said quickly. He looked very human, except for his hair. His hair looked as though it was made of spikes. Real, giant, sharp spikes. “Yes, um my ship crashed three days ago? I walked here, and I was wondering if you had fuel for Earthen ship,” Raven summarized. The boy bit the inside of his cheek. “I think so… but we wouldn’t have much. We don’t usually get that many Earthen ships this far out. No ships really. The fuel business is pretty bad here,” he replied. “Let me get onto the ship location systems and try and find your ship. What’s the ship code?” he asked. Rave had to think for a minute. No one usually asks for the code. “Oh its 590h2y,” she finally said. The boy typed it into the old rusty computer system. “Ah here it is! Wow, its 60 miles away. And you walked all the way here? I do have enough fuel to get you to the next galaxy stop,” he informed her. Rave smiled. She was going to get off the dusty planet. “Awesome! How much does it cost?” she asked. The boy furrowed his eyebrows. “I have to go look. I haven’t looked at the Earth fuel since we got that shipment,” he said. He walked back into the room he came from and returned a minute later. “It’s 30 zips per gallon, and you need 4 gallons so that’s.. 120 zaps ma’am!” he told her. Rave was surprised it cost that much at first. She then realized that she’s on a planet pretty far away from Earth. Raven dug around in her bag and found the money she stashed in there. She grabbed out 120 zaps and handed it to the boy. “Sweet! Okay. Do want to carry the four gallons back or do you want a ride in the Hovo-truck?” he asked. “Hovo-Truck!” Rave exclaimed. The boy laughed and opened the closed door to let Rave into the room he came out of. The room housed a Hovo-Truck and a big, lazy boy chair. The boy walked to the truck and climbed into the driver’s seat. “You coming?” he called. Rave walked over to the truck and heaved herself in. She pulled the seatbelt over her chest while the boy began driving. “My name is Bart by the way. I never introduced myself,” he said. “I’m Rave,” she replied. The Hovo-truck was reaching the edge of the city. They could see the glass bubble that protected the city from the prisma-colored dust outside. As the Hovo-trucked passed through the bubble, the bubble followed, forming around the truck. As they fully left the city, a new bubble was around the truck. “The glass bubble follows all of the citizens of Glass Zity. We get registered to have bubble protection. We’ll be at your ship in less than an hour. My truck goes really quickly,” he rambled. Rave just nodded her head and looked out her window.

​After a 45-minute drive, both Rave and Bart saw Rave’s dust covered ship. “I’ll pull up really close and the bubble should go around the fuel tank,” Bart said. He turned the wheel and pulled up to the ship. He hopped out. Rave jumped out of the truck and examined her ship as Bart refueled it. It was covered in inches of pink, yellow, and blue dust. Rave reached out and brushed some of it off the name of the ship. “The Bird,” she whispered. She patted the ship as Bart closed the fuel tank door. “You’re all set. This’ll bring you to the next stop,” Bart said. “Thanks Bart,” she said. Bart got into his truck and left the area. As soon as he drove off, the dust started hitting Rave. She quickly opened the door to her ship and climbed inside. She sighed once she was in the safety of the familiar ship. I think I’m going to take some time off from the exploring thing. I just need time to myself she thought. With that, she climbed into the cockpit and turned on the engines. Raven was ready to leave the planet of dust.