A warm summer breeze caught Saronna’s veil and almost pulled it loose. She stopped to tuck the folds around her face, to ensure nothing showed except her eyes. By the time she had picked up her valise, her father had almost disappeared into the crowd. She hurried to catch up, darting in and out among the throng as fast as she could without attracting notice.
Where were they going? Her father had told her to pack her belongings. That had to mean he planned another attempt to sell her, but he had given her no clue whom he planned to visit today.
Even after their earlier trips to New Jerusalem, the city still disconcerted Saronna. Vendors’ cries, chattering voices, ground cars rolling past, and countless footfalls were enough to distract her, let alone the sight of so many strangers. Faces flashed past, some veiled, some bearded, and disappeared into the mass of humanity, never to be seen again.
She caught up to her father just as he turned suddenly, moving through the tall steel supports of the Strangers’ Gate into the off-world quarter. Saronna had never been there. She gripped her valise tighter as a shiver of apprehension ran through her. Would her talent work as well on an off-world man?
After a block, Saronna noticed women in trousers, walking with their faces uncovered. She looked away in confusion, but the men bewildered her just as much. They walked beside the women, sometimes even touched them. Even elderly men had no beards. The buildings, by contrast, seemed ordinary, although many were very tall. Ten and twelve-story structures dwarfed their neighbors, seeming to shut out the sun.
The crowd thinned first, then the buildings, and Saronna realized they had entered a residential area. After a few blocks, her father made another abrupt turn to enter the arched doorway of a large, sprawling house. Saronna stepped back a pace to study the facade as her father waited at the door. The gray stone house looked very like the ones back in her village except more spread out. Only the recessed archway that sheltered the entrance broke the line of the featureless walls. A few noticeable oddities caught her attention—two small cylinders mounted on either side of the door, and a flat rectangular screen placed at eye level on the right.That's all for now. I hope to have a cover image to post soon!