Allen Fallgersaw sailed through the warm air, squinting his eyes as it whipped his hair behind his head. The whole sky was lit up like one gigantic Christmas tree. ogledendri bobbed up and down, casting their ghostly, blue glow about them, illuminating the dark, orange night sky. Allen prodded his gagarak, Trunt, with his right foot, sending him into a tight dive, clinging tighter to the creature lest he fall to the shadowy depths, miles below. He watched as the wing tips, twenty feet long on either side, twirled into his body, sending the young gagarak and his rider farther down.
He weaved in and out of clusters of ogledendri as his gliding mount responded effortlessly to his commands, admiring the bright green glow that the older ogledendri emitted as he did. Allen cast a fleeting glance back at the home he had left for the rare event he now witnessed. Out here, he felt at peace. Out in the open, free from the confines of the city, here was his true home. Off in the distance, Allen could see bright yellowish clouds shooting out bolts of white lightning. He shuddered, knowing what would happen when the clouds reached the blob of flying jellyfish. The night sky above splashed celestial bodies down upon the reflective clouds below and Allen spotted out of the corner of his eye the biggest body in the Venusian night sky, the homeland, where his people had come from three centuries before.
For a moment he was caught in a dream, imagining a world of vast land where one could run in the same direction forever and never reach the end. He dabbled in this thought, holding on to it in the recesses of his mind until he was violently torn from the peaceful solace of fantasy to the terrors of the world he lived in.
He heard it before he saw it—a sharp, shrill scream. Allen pivoted in his saddle, scanning the horizon. From a distance, all he could see was a dark mass approaching from the East side of Vagera, his home, but from experience, he knew it was something far more terrible. He reigned in Trunt, turning and flying as fast as he could, desperate to reach Vagera before the Raptors arrived.
Allen grimaced as he felt his mount exerting itself against an unexpected South wind. Realizing he had no hope of reaching his home before the raptors cut him off, he turned, flying back towards the conglomerate of ogledendri as more screams erupted. Why did I go without telling anybody I was out here? Why did I break curfew! Allen’s stomach dropped as he realized he was trapped out here. It was standard protocol for Vagera to close the hanger during the night, and he knew there were no exceptions, not after what had happened the year before.
Allen scanned the sky, looking for anything that might help him. He tried recalling where Vagera was currently was, but he had no idea how far away Maxwell Montes observatory was. He knew that the raptors had been drawn in by the smell that the ogledendri were excreting. He only hoped that if he kept far away enough from the conglomerate he would be safe. He pointed Trunt farther down, into the clouds, just barely keeping his head above the carbon dioxide rich layer so he could see what the razor of raptors would do.
Now he could seem them forming a wide circle around the ogledendri as instinct dictated. Raptors were big, nasty, hellish monsters. They were three or four times the size of the already substantial gagaraks, and they could dive down deeper into the dense atmosphere than any of the aerial creatures living in the clouds. They had jagged teeth, and their breath was so hot Allen had been told it could ignite skin and bone.
The young man watched as one by one, the hopeful light of the ogledendri was extinguished. The brutal, savage, yet oh so efficient method of hunting that the raptors carried out tolerated no waste. Some attacked the top of the conglomerate, while others hovered beneath, clutching any that should escape the claws of the genocide above. Though Allen knew that ogledendri were very simple creatures, he couldn’t help but wince in sympathy.
Before long the sky was emptied of the free-floating organisms. Now all that remained were the vicious demons of the night. Allen waited, sure that any second now they would leave, returning to their nesting grounds far below the clouds, on peaks not yet claimed by open sky. Then, in an instant, his confidence in mother nature vanished. Silently, stealthily, two raptors, at least three times larger than Trunt in wingspan alone, started flying straight for Allen. He witnessed, horror stuck, as steam rose from their huge, open mouths revealing massive teeth, and a throat that could swallow him whole. The closer they grew the louder the beat of their wings became. It now sounded like a clap of thunder as it deadened out all other noise save the thump of Allen’s jabbering heart.
In that moment, it seemed as if the whole world suddenly stood still. Nothing moved and nothing happened. He was no longer out in the vulnerable night sky. No, he was at home, where he should have been. And Trunt was safely nestled in his pen outside. No, he was not here. He was safe. Allen found himself lost, until a scream like nails on chalkboard split straight through the wishful fantasy he had fallen into. With a jerk of his reigns, he sent Trunt spiraling down.
He was no longer acting on mental acuity, but pure, animalistic adrenaline. He did not know right from left nor up from down. He only knew “survive,” and “death.” And even then, he barely knew which one he favored.
A gagarak was agiler than any raptor, but it was far slower. He raced lower and lower, hearing the beat of the wings resound behind him, always growing closer, he knew he was a dead man. He would be dead in moments. There was nowhere to run, and there was nowhere to go. He began reciting the rites of Falloth to himself, preparing for his journey into the afterlife.
The cloud density was greater now, and Allen could not see nearly as far as he could above, but as he raced Trunt on, willing him to live a moment longer he spotted something. Something small, and something that in all likelihood was nothing. But it was something all the same. Allen raced towards it, pushing past the cloud, pushing past the doubt, all the while being pushed by the demons of the night. As it grew closer it grew larger too. Now Allen could see it for what it was—an old weather station. His heart leaped inside of him as the implications of the back-to-corner find. If he could only get inside, he would be saved. Allen knew it.
When he arrived he circled around with Trunt, frantically looking for the door. In a few seconds he had found it, but the raptors were now so close he could feel the distortion they caused in the air. Trunt locked his claws onto the door handle, pulling. Allen swung out, off of his saddle, standing on a ledge and helping his steed. They pulled, and the old door strained, but it didn’t give. They pulled again, and this time, he heard a louder groan, but it still wasn’t enough. “Come on boy!” Allen found himself yelling, but he doubted Trunt could hear him above the noise of the raptors. Then, in a last effort the door snapped, Allen felt relief and great sadness all at the same time. When the door had snapped only part of it had broken off, only enough so that he could barely squeeze in. No time was left for another attempt, their pursuer was here. His survival would require Trunt’s sacrifice. Allen looked back at Trunt, but his noble steed had already turned, preparing to charge the raptors. Allen climbed inside, too overcome with sadness to call out, too fearful of the raptors to make a noise. He could only sit, and listen, listen to the cries that echoed from the short-lived battle that was over in seconds.
Allen pulled back as he saw one of the raptors circle around the old weather station. A horrid thought occurred to him that the raptor might pop the surely flimsy balloon, but it was fleeting. Soon he heard them flying off, away and into the distance. Allen sank to the floor, overcome with grief at losing his best friend and realization he had been spared an awful death only to suffer a much worse fate. The awful truth hit him; he was trapped in an old station that no one knew existed with no way of telling anyone where he was. There was no food, no water, and the satellite dish would have been out of working order for decades. As far as Vagera was considered, he was already dead.
So, yeah… This post went a little longer than intended! I got a little carried away with the setting… If you enjoyed I would love to hear about it, and if you want to know what happened to Allen please let me know in the comments below! If I get enough feedback I will consider writing a second part to this!