Wandering on Hinterland

Harper sat sullenly at the top of the habitat’s spire, looking out above the canopy as the first—and brightest—of Hinterland’s two suns tucked itself below the horizon. At least it would cool off a little. She took the stairs down to the surface level, passing Brielle in the mudroom leading to the garage. “I’m going for a walk,” Harper said without breaking stride. She didn’t want to leave room for conversation. There was barely enough room to think as it was; no need to go inviting small talk to be the mortar holding her together. She zipped a stained coverall over her clothes, grabbed a pistol from the small arms locker, and walked out into the wild.

In her 18 months on Hinterland Harper had never seen it rain, but somehow everything was perpetually wet. It was like the whole world was upside down. The underground river system fed the trees which in turn—instead of making goddamn fruit—constantly dripped sugar water from the ends of their branches like leaky faucets. It meant her boots, and her hair, and everything in between were always wet and sticky. And the whole planet smelled like bananas and horse dung. And it was hot, and humid, so on top of everything else she couldn’t stop sweating.

It wasn’t supposed to be like this.

Aiden. She only allowed herself to think about him when she was away from the settlement. He hadn’t even made it through a season after they arrived on Hinterland before he left her for a cartographer over at Site B. Brought her a hundred lightyears from home just to have a midlife crisis and run off. A cartographer! Honestly…

Harper stopped. Up ahead she could see the distinct printed spirals of a habitat. She’d walked all the way to Site B without even thinking about it. She certainly hadn’t intended to. Then she realized she had her pistol out. God, what was she going to do? Kill Aiden?

Huh. What an odd thought, to kill Aiden. Could she actually do such a thing?


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