Sample Chapter - Mission: Flight to Mars

Here is a random sample chapter from my new space opera, Mission: Flight to Mars. This is a partial of chapter eight, I believe. Enjoy!

8

I could see the faint outline of the city. It was like looking at a mountain range from far off. I could make out its thin, barely visible environmental dome, shining at times depending on how the light hit it. It was a far longer walk than I had guessed. I made my way past strange rusted rock formations, small sinks and valleys and over a few hills through volcanic rock and oceans of dust and sand. Light was slowly waning. After over an hour of walking I'd forgotten about what Sworda told me. It never occurred to me that I would find anything out here beyond a superficial atmosphere and oceans of red dust and rock. I was wrong.

I suddenly had the feeling that I was being followed for some time by the time dusk came but at first I put it to tricks of the light and my fervid imagination, which was being spurred on by traveling on another planet. I thought I'd heard something and suddenly turned around to find a creature about the size of a mastiff coming around from behind a large rock off to my right. My helmet registered this life-sign strangely. First, it had not warned me at all and I wondered if it was malfunctioning which sparked a thought of panic. Then it registered as an unknown category life form. The creature was stalking toward me at first but now that I had seen the thing it made no more pretense of hiding. It had the thick fur of a bear but it seemed built also with scaly feet and terrible, sharp claws on its front paws. It's eyes were a brilliant yellow color, wide, mean slits and its muzzle was that of a big cat and it had long, slender ears that stood rigid like two columns on either side of its head. It had long, frightening teeth and fangs like sharp knifes. It came to a stand, swaying from side to side, gauging its prey as if deciding to toy with me or strike now. It's wormy, ringed tail whipped up and down against the skin of a lichenified back side. I flicked the rifle to the front and raised it to fire. This movement seemed to enrage the beast and as I was fiddling with the trigger it roared, seemingly offended that its prey would even attempt to defend itself. It sprang at me with all fury, its cat-like eyes widening and becoming bright like fiery orbs. It opened its terrible maw, its claws poised to rip me open and sprang upon me and would have nearly opened me from throat to groin had my rifle not gone off at the most opportune time. The flare atomic explosives cracked and exploded into the creatures open mouth and one side of its head exploded into the air. The creature fell to the side and let out a blood-curdling wail but made another ferocious charge, though now greatly weakened. This time my intention was no accident. It raised its paw to swipe the rifle away and again I shot it, exploding into its chest straight through to the heart. Its teeth had barely missed me. It fell and slumped to the ground, dead beside me. Lying on my back with the wind knocked out of me for a few minutes, I was too stunned to move. As I came back to my senses I felt pain in one of my arms. I'd always heard from other coworkers who went on hunting expeditions, like Fred and his friends, that anyone using an atomic rifle had better be in great physical shape. Now I understood. I struggled to get up and when I was finally on my feet I examined the horrible thing that had tried to kill me. If it had not have been for the rifle going off at the last minute I would be lying in the Martian desert with my throat slashed out and possibly a meal for this chimera-looking creature. I had no idea what it was but it did indeed look like it had been engineered and put together by the parts of different predators. Why was it able to wander out in the open Martian desert air and temperature without any life support baffled me. Apparently, Mars was no longer the same Mars we humans had assumed. Shaken but still alive and thankful, I pushed on toward the city.