For #LineByLineTime – A long hard day…
“Whoa! Whoa! Stop! Stop, now! We need to rest!”
The male in front slowed his steady lope and looked at the other two males. “Stop? Already? Why?” He shook his head and the muzzle around his snout rattled. “We’ve barely begun!”
“Barely begun?” The younger of the three males stopped to wheeze. “We’ve been running for hours! We need to catch our breath, have some water! Rest! How can you keep going like that? You’ve been in a prison mine for years!”
The oldest male collapsed, his breath whistling in and out. “Loper,” he gasped. The youngest male staggered to his side and groped for his water canteen. He fumbled the cap off and trickled its contents unsteadily in his commander’s mouth. After a few moments, the old male managed to swallow without choking. Loper gave him a little more, then took a couple of gulps himself.
The male in front rattled his muzzle again as he shook his head. “No stamina,” he muttered. “What have you been doing all this time, lying around the fire grooming yourselves?”
Loper gave his commander Shadowstalker another drink and took one himself. Then he looked at the unnamed male, and his skin rippled with shame. “You need water, too. How can you – I mean, the muzzle…”
The third male snorted. “Never mind the muzzle. I can’t even hold the canteen with these coverings over my limbs and tail. All I can do is run.”
Loper hissed and bounced over to him. “Hold your mouth up, I’ll pour some water in.” He did so, and the male swallowed without difficulty. Loper shook his head. “You’re not even breathing hard! I can’t believe it!” He recapped the canteen. “Neither of us have been lying around anywhere. We’ve been on a hard march to reach the mine, after we received orders. I just don’t understand how you can be in such better shape when you haven’t been able to run in years!”
The male shrugged and his web of shackles rattled all over him. “In the mine it’s work or die, and I’m too stubborn to let them kill me.”
His head jerked up and his ears pricked toward the ravine they had been running above. “Something’s being chased! Maybe our next meal!” He bounded off to the edge, looked down, and hissed loudly before leaping into space.