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Edition 14: Tread Upon the Brittle Shell by Rhoads Brazos

flag USCharlie sought out adventure and the glory of discovering a new cave. What she didn’t account for was what she would find. Portents suggest the site shouldn’t be disturbed, and Charlie knows it might be sacred, but will the lure of fame and adventure be too much to ignore? SY

The vehicle pressed through a cloud that thickened into terracotta, and for a moment the desert track disappeared. In the passenger’s seat, Charlie squeezed her knees with both hands, but Yileen didn’t seem too concerned. He turned his dark, weathered face to her, grinned, and refocused on the track with a languidness that jabbed at her gut.

“Have you ever—” Charlie stole a glance at the speedometer. “Gotten stranded out here?”

Yileen snorted. “Many times. Once a month?”

The Australian outback wasn’t as flat as the Nullarbor—as if anything could be—but seemed somehow even less forgiving. Charlie picked up her canteen and felt its weight.

Yileen laughed, ending with a dry cough. “Don’t be concerned. I drive this road so many times. See—boulder coming up on the right.”

There it was, melting out of the veil.

“Patch of corkwood over the ridge.”

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