“Use all your senses,” Teyata reminded.
Brad silently sniffed, taking in scents notably vegetable, separating them from others he couldn’t identify. He recognised sounds too of creatures he had encountered either directly or indirectly…. distant.
“There’s nothing here that can hurt us,” said Teyata, breaking the silence. “Are you hungry?”
“Not after that feed we had yesterday.” Brad looked down at the river. “I could use some water though.”
“Take the loud stick with you.”
“It’s a rifle.”
“Then take the rifle.”
Brad slung the weapon. “I’ll only use it if I have to.”
Brad turned, facing down the arc of the bridge’s spine. Shuffling forward, he lowered himself into a crouch and cautiously made his way down the incline. With great relief, he vaulted down from the sandstone pylon. Determined to instill the discipline of always hearing, smelling, and watching, he proceeded down the single lane road for the bank. He made it to the water’s edge without incident and drank deeply. It made him a bit queasy.
Why didn’t I feel sick last night when I drank from the river?
The chewing of the red petals from a few hours before, must have lined his stomach with counteractive medicine. He resigned himself to chewing one of the red petals in his sack when he got back. Jogging back up the road, he stopped by the sandstone pylon and looked up at the enormity of the task.
“Don’t come up,” Teyata called down. “Run to the next town! When you get back, we can start your training!”
With a nod, he broke off at a healthy pace.
Teyata fast forwarded the several kilometres Brad took to make it to his town. He only stopped there briefly as a large half starved doge with hackles raised accosted him. It seemed to remember the danger of a pointed rifle barrel and backed away. Brad slung the weapon and returned to the bridge. He climbed the pylon and gripped the edges of the girders as he made his way to the bridge’s crest.
Teyata sat cross legged, struggling to read his Bible aloud. He picked a route to stand behind her as she screwed her face in frustration, unable to make out the next word.
Brad leaned over her shoulder, pointing.
Teyata hissed. “I want to do it myself.”
In mock resignation, Brad raised his hands; pulling back.
“Besides; I have to teach you now. Get down to the road and I’ll tell you when to start.”
“You’ve got to run over the arc of this bridge and back again by the time I’ve read these two pages.”
Brad stared over the edge, experiencing a sense of vertigo. Even if he survived the fall into the river, the sharks swimming idly beneath its surface would surely finish him.
“If I fall; I’ll die.”
Teyata had her head buried in the Bible.
“Then don’t fall,” she said, not looking up.
She began to read haltingly, oblivious to Brad gaping. Several words into her reading, he realised he had to move.