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David D. Levine
Arabella Ashby lay prone atop a dune, her whole length pressed tight upon the cool red sands of Mars. The silence of the night lay unbroken save for the distant cry of a hunting khulekh, and a wind off the desert brought a familiar potpourri to her nose: khoresh-sap, and the cinnamon smell of Martians, and the sharp, distinctive fragrance of the sand itself. She glanced up at Phobos—still some fingers’ span short of Arcturus—then back down to the darkness of the valley floor where Michael would, she knew, soon appear.
Beneath the fur-trimmed leather of her thukhong, her heart beat a fast tattoo, racing not only from the exertion of her rush to the top of this dune but from the exhilaration of delicious anticipation. For this, she was certain, was the night she would finally defeat her brother in the game of shorosh khe kushura, or Hound and Hare.
The game was simple enough. To-night Michael played the part of the kushura, a nimble runner of the plains, while Arabella took the role of the shorosh, a fierce and cunning predator. His assignment this night was to race from the stone outcrop they called Old Broken Nose to the drying-sheds on the south side of the manor house, a distance of some two miles; hers was to stop him. But though Khema had said the youngest Martian children would play this game as soon as their shells hardened, it was also a sophisticated strategic exercise . . . one that Michael, three years her elder, had nearly always won in the weeks they’d been playing it.
But to-night the victory would be Arabella’s. For she had been observing Michael assiduously for the last few nights, and she had noted that despite Khema’s constant injunctions against predictability, he nearly always traversed this valley when he wished to evade detection. Its sides were steep, its shadows deep at every time of night, and the soft sands of the valley floor hushed every footfall—but that would avail him little if his pursuer reached the valley before he did and prepared an ambush. Which was exactly what she had done . . .
|What I Write||
David D. Levine is the author of Norton-winning novel Arabella of Mars (Tor 2016), forthcoming sequel Arabella and the Battle of Venus (Tor 2017), and over fifty science fiction and fantasy stories. His story “Tk’Tk’Tk” won the Hugo Award, and he has been shortlisted for awards including the Hugo, Nebula, Campbell, and Sturgeon. Stories have appeared in Asimov’s, Analog, F&SF, Tor.com, numerous Year’s Best anthologies, and his award-winning collection Space Magic.
I’m shooting for a thousand words a day.
Clarion West can use donations of any amount, but for a donation of $495, David will name a character after you or your cat or your childhood teddy bear in a story (novel, novella, novelette, novelini) to be written some time in the next few years.