but he thought James to be the bravest person that ever lived.

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Into the Golden Sands

James takes the lead, barrelling down the congested street. He stretches one arm backward, clinging to Aidan’s hand, terrified he will fall behind and lose him to the blood-thirsty crew. They dodge market carts and livestock, zigging and zagging further from Andromeda’s callous betrayal. 

Aidan holds on but his pounding gait and the chaotic crowd blur together, letting his mind jet back to the last time he and James ran like this. His memory zeroes in on the last time he feared for his very existence. 

Society was collapsing, first the rural towns, then the picturesque suburbs, and finally major cities began to fall one by one. He met James in the sticky, humid air of Alabama. Both were fleeing south to Florida in hopes of snagging a ticket to the newly built Mars colony. Aidan left behind his family’s farm in North Carolina and James ran away from a group home in Ohio.

Aidan secretly resented the fact that James didn’t lose any family to the collapse. He wished he had been an orphan instead of watching his mom and dad get hauled off to designated work camps, the government’s last-ditch effort to revitalize the broken economy. James always wished for the opposite. Even with the loss of his parents, James envied Aidan’s privilege of growing up with people that loved him. 

With each sharp step and the increasing dull ache in his side, Aidan remembers how they ran from guards after scamming their way through security to sneak into the lower class passenger pool. Attendants scanned the seating area but after shedding their disguises the crew couldn’t pick them from the crowd.  Afterward, James joked about how dense the guards had been. Their piss poor attempt at identification fraud and vaguely similar uniforms were laughable, at best. At the time, they were both only sixteen, but he thought James to be the bravest person that ever lived. Even then, he loved him and knew he’d follow him to Hell and back just to be near him. 

“Aidan, there!” James yanks his arm and points around the corner of a crumbling mud constructed bathhouse. 

He turns in unison with James who still pulls him along, determined to keep them both alive and together. His golden tanned skin now flushed red and pulsing with adrenaline like a prize racehorse with trained tunnel vision seeking the finish line. With the last of the oxygen powering their tired muscles, they throw themselves onto a rickety caravan pulling out onto the only road out of port. 

James collapses onto Aidan’s heaving chest and they cling to their breaths, slowly returning to a less painful state. James looks to the edge of town as they pull away and spies a mess of green hair pushing through the crowd. Andromeda. From behind her, Captain steps forward, no doubt making plans to pursue them into the mountains. 

He never loses sources of revenue unless it’s on his accord. James assumes this will be no different, but with a steady lead and the caravan picking up speed, he lays his head back down to Aidan’s, deciding to save his worry for the future. 

Produced by: Eugenio Zorrilla.

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