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Rhodesia runs through the forest, hunted by creatures wearing the faces of people she loves. They plead to her to wait in the voices of her family, and the sound sends chills down her back. What is worse? Succumbing and becoming a mindless drone with the others, or perishing in the forest, alone?

 

Roy Planter is a man with a mission, and he has no intention of staying on a plague-ridden planet where more humans turn into mindless drones every day. Being stuck in a city, grouped with a sword-wielding stick insect of a man and a busty blonde with a too vivid sense of humor are only temporary setbacks. He's leaving, first chance he gets. At least that's what he thinks until Rhodesia arrives. Caring for someone won't make his life easier, but can he really turn his back and leave her behind?

 

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Excerpt

 

Rhodesia's heart thumped in her chest.

 

People could probably hear it in the next city.

 

She forced a breath into aching lungs and kept a hand over her mouth to stifle the sound of an explosive exhalation. Hiding behind a tree was hardly sufficient, even if the trunk was wide enough to cover a two-person hovercraft, but she had to catch her breath.

 

Were they still on her tail?

 

Probably. And they wouldn't be tired.

 

Maybe she should just give up and submit to the conversion. No place was safe, she had nowhere to run, and perishing alone in the forest might be worse than turning into one of them. 

 

A beautiful sound drifted down from the branches above her head. One of the indigenous birds sang. Happy, joyful, and defiant.

 

Through her adolescence, teachers talked about the old world and life on a planet called Earth. She never understood why it was important, not until now when her own life was in shambles. Remembering the past might be more valuable than she ever realized.

 

Birds on Earth were allegedly different from here, but it was hard to believe such a preposterous statement. Flying animals should look the same everywhere.

 

She remembered a photo of a feathered creature with an extraordinary beak. It hadn't even been a hologram; the picture was two dimensional, and so old the color had faded. Pelican. It had been called a Pelican.

 

How such a being could fly boggled the mind.