Something Better
Teaser #9 - No Man's Land
By: Jim Bates

The land to the west slopped toward the foothills with the mountains rising tall behind them. Quinn was looking in that direction wondering if they had it in them to make the arduous journey when he spotted a plume of dust rising in the distance. Something was coming toward them. Karen saw it, too.

"Look," she pointed.

"What is it?" Jen stood up and shielded her eyes.

"I don't know," Quinn said, "But I have feeling it can't be good." He pointed to a nearby outcropping of rocks. "Let's climb up there just to be on the safe side."

"And hide," Karen added.

"Yeah. That, too," Quinn said, grimacing, trying unsuccessfully to cover his mounting apprehension.

They stood up and put their masks on. Matt was so tired Quinn had to carry him. Karen and Jen hurried ahead, scrambling over rocks and large boulders as they climbed to the top of the outcropping before realizing that Quinn needed help with Matt so they went back down to assist him. When they were all together they crouched down, breathing hard, about thirty feet above the floor of the desert.

Angerly Jen pulled off her mask. "I can barely breathe," she said, sucking in air.

Karen took off the filter assembly. "It's clogged with dust. Let me put a new one in for you." She reached into her pack, took out a clean filter and put it in before handing it back. "Here you go."

While Karen was helping Jen, Quinn was watching the approaching cloud of dust. "Karen, let me have your phone." She handed it over and Quinn switched on the binocular function before peering through it. "Geez, look at this." He handed the phone to her.

Karen looked and her heart jumped. "Oh, man."

"What is it?" Jen asked.

"Wild dogs," Karen said, giving the phone back to Quinn. "It looks like a pack of about ten of them."

Jen didn't hesitate. She looked around and picked up a fist sized rock, then started collecting more. "Damn it. We didn't come this far to get eaten by dogs. Let's get ready for them."


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