White Wizard - Cover

White Wizard

Copyright© 2014 by Feral Lady

Chapter 3

The scene is a bird's eye view of a brackish marsh with an early morning sun to the east: a small group of tall but dead Cypress trees, gray with stark empty limbs surrounded a brown, mud-covered, white capsule. This is an upland edge of a protected bog with dead stems thick above the hydrated soil surface. On the other side of a long ridge embankment a white tailed deer runs, splashing white foamy water among salt-meadow cord-grass. Nearly hidden blue patches of running water peek out of the action as the grass bends in the wind, creating the appearance of a field of tufts. This long field of bright green cord-grass is bounded by numerous clumps of short trees and fern bushes with broad meandering streams full of narrow-leaved cattail. Almost as far as can be seen little islands of trees populate bits of flatland, embraced by the cord-grass fields and shallow, open-flowing streams. Birds of all types dash through the scene.

Much further south, sandbars along the coastline enclose bodies of water and form a lagoon-type estuary with tiny islands covered with reed homes. To the west, steep hills are covered with Juniper bushes and evergreen groves of Cinchona trees. A blue-eyed lone wolf, sitting on a rock ends, my dream.

The morning sun yanked me to the present as it sifted through the oval observation window, a stream of light-filled dust particles. I stretched my legs along the floor, looking up at the ceiling from my back to a previously unnoticed service hatch. Not giving myself time to recognize a new odor in the cabin, I rolled to my knees and one foot at a time stood up. I glanced at the dual monitors, recognizing the displayed external data. I put a hand to the seat and spun it for no particular reason, except that a bit of nervous energy drained out of me.

I did not want to look at Stephen, knowing what awaited me. With a quick hop I landed on the narrow white computer table and reached for a rung to the side of the monitors—and climbed. My eyes remained fixed on the round service hatch, having only to climb a short distance, perhaps six rungs total about three hand spans between each. I stopped to regain my composure as thoughts of my dream assured me what was outside. With an arm stuffed in a rung for security, I undogged the latches and let the thick metal service hatch swing open. There was a small, service compartment up there with various electronics hidden behind labeled drawers, and more importantly to me, another service hatch at the top with "External Exit" on it. A fat man was not going to fit in the confines of this area but the one person alive in this capsule would. After climbing another six or eight rungs, not wanting any random thoughts to hinder me, the last hatched opened to a cloudless blue sky. Near the capsule, moss was hanging from washed-gray cypress trees,.

The Great Marsh was bustling with activity as the animals scattered at the steel bell sound that resonated around the courier's escape pod when the the external hatch thumped the hull. Colorful birds shifted to more distant evergreen trees. A few white-tails caught my eye as they sank from view in the tall, green cord-grass beyond the ridge embankment. I scanned the horizon south for a particular patch of dark green fir trees which marked the location of a wide open stream that eventually led to the main channel that connected to the lagoon village. The certainty of the knowledge really didn't bother me. The oddness that I saw this picture unfold before me did.

"Is this some natural ability my people are accustomed to? This sort of knowledge feels comfortable, but with no long-term memory to put it into context, it is honestly offensive to my sanity."

I breathed a sigh of relief at the marsh and sincerely declared," Uncle, I will do my very best to honor you and stay alive." Perhaps that was a bit dramatic but when you need purpose, honoring a man clears a confused mind.

To focus on something more immediate, I noted the white, egg-shaped capsule had partly sunk in this brackish marsh. Uncle Stephen deserved a safe resting spot and inside a sealed, metal capsule seemed right. There were no available dry spots to actually bury him. Should our rescue beacon attract help, he would be found and given suitable burial. As for me it looked like a self-rescue was appropriate. To be honest, if this planet had modern technology, beams of bright light would have filled the marsh last night as search and rescue responded to our emergency broadcast beacon. The image of reed homes flashed with a quick thought regarding the local state of development. My plan would be to meet the locals.

I left the exit hatch open and returned to the main cabin to gather supplies; it was time to get out of here, since it was still early morning. The capsule cabin felt restrictive compared to the expansive marsh that had filled the horizon. It was quick work to find survival gear since one was secured under each crew seat. In no time at all, the G.O. Survival Bag was pulled out with its hydration pack, filled with water. The craft's designer had engineered a water spigot attached to my fancy water bottle that just needed activating to fill and detach it. The water reservoir was a small, black pack with non-padded straps that spread the load evenly across my back, making it balanced and comfortable to move. A small black tube for sucking water pulled easily to reach my mouth. An embossed "Wolfenstein" was printed on the back of the pack above a gray wolf head symbol. A manufacture disclaimer tag stated the closed cell insulation and nanofreeze tube cover would keep the water cool for days. The hot marsh would be a good test.

Someone had marked up the G.O. Survival Bag and written "Game Over Bag"; I wondered if it was Stephen—that was his type of dry humor. The bag was a fanny pack with padded waist belt and adjustable shoulder harness. It was not heavy and was a camo color. The belt had two side pockets and a front pocket for easy access. The webbing loops for lashing on extra gear really tripped my fancy. One of the loops already had a small square pouch labeled Podballs attached; inside, four lightweight devices stared at me, like eye balls. A flashlight lens covered the top of these silver metal balls that were the size of large walnuts. The back of the pouch flap stated that Podballs were used to distract unwanted animals and to attract nearby rescue and recover crews. It warned not to operate inside the escape capsule (Rolling Illuminated Distraction Disorientation Device). The rest of the label read like a marketing ad, they are waterproof and shockproof concentric balls, designed to wobble and spin when tossed and then land light up. I immediately decide to call them Wobblers. It did not look like they floated. The disorientation part had me wondering how far to throw them.

Inside the small bag was a combination of items: individual energy bars in sealed packages, fire starter, carabiner clip light, basic first aid kit, a paper thin reflective survival blanket, braided NanoLine cordage on a spool, duct tape in hi-visibility yellow, water purification kit and straw. The back outside compartment zipped open to reveal a black Hullarmor Trench Axe (Mohawk axe head and pick on the back).

It is funny how your stomach rumbles when you are hungry and you see food. Fine—energy bars are not real food, whereas the hunger was real. A few minutes rifling through drawers at the water tub station produced a reasonable collection of rather tasteless granola bars. It felt awkward eating in front of Uncle Stephen so I looked around the cabin's lockers and found a couple of simple brown wool blankets. It was not hard to cover him carefully with a blanket. The other blanket got thrown on the game over bag for the moment. The same locker had a few plastic garbage bags in a cardboard box that looked promising for the bag pile too.

Looking over the dead body took my appetite away, and the last few chews of the chocolate chip granola bar had me standing at the narrow closet by the blast door. Inside the narrow and shallow metal closet were a few interesting items for my journey. The labels and instructions affixed inside the closet door itemized what was there. The first was an item with no immediate use for me, a bright red flare gun next to a sealed clear cylinder with three different colored flares stacked up and one night illumination flare. The second thing worth keeping were four plastic poncho raincoats, each yellow waterproof garment folded tightly into a small square. The third item was a long wooden pole, about the width of my two smallest fingers, with a silver tip of composite material on one end and black switch prominently featured near the other end. The laughter bounced off all the pod walls before I realized it and ended with my nervous chuckle. Here was a shock staff used for crowd control or in this case intended for repelling unwanted animal attacks which came too near the pod's campsite. The instructions on the door said not to stand in water during usage. I am man enough to say inadvertent electrocution was not appealing. "How serious are they about the water?" The last item in the closet was a small black aluminum pot with a lid.

To read this story you need a Registration + Premier Membership
If you have an account, then please Log In or Register (Why register?)