Blogging From A to Z is a blog challenge where participants post a new item every day (except Sundays), where every item relates to the appropriate letter of the alphabet. You can find out more over at http://www.a-to-zchallenge.com
Word Count: 561
An armoured foot slammed into Valdete’s back, crushing him into the snow. So much pressure he thought his spine would snap in half; there’d be no use for him then, it’d be an escape. He prayed, begged, waiting for the crunch...
Grudgingly, the foot lifted again as a heavily-synthesised voice ground out, “rise.”
Every muscle ached and his bones felt fragile, but Valdete complied. They wouldn’t kill him. Not while they could still profit from him. Corpses were ten-a-penny these days, plenty of second-hand organs for all. No value in the remains of Valdete’s skinny body, not while the mining planets still required plentiful labour.
He trudged back to the ragged group of men, the towering form of his mechanical guard so close behind him that if it breathed he’d feel every single exhalation.
“That was stupid,” one of the others muttered contemptuously, drawing his knees more closely to his chest. “Where’d you even think you were going, moron?”
Valdete slumped against the creaking wooden frame of their transport, suppressing a grimace. The creature’s giant foot likely left a bruise that spanned his back.
“Silence.” The artificial voice grated on him. His urge to tear out its vocoder and pound it into smithereens was outweighed only by the knowledge of what would happen if he tried.
When its massive plated head swung towards him, Valdete froze. It couldn’t have heard that could it? He hadn’t spoken it aloud...
He scrambled to his feet without complaint. Questions, arguments, were futile, and when it stomped through the drifts towards the ruin of a single tree Valdete followed silently. At least trailing along in its broad footsteps made moving less of a struggle.
Maybe this was it: the point when one finally snapped, pulverised an inmate for their escape attempt to set an example to the others.
The last thing Valdete wanted was to be an example. Its back was turned, they were far enough away now. A second escape attempt—no one had tried it before, no one dared, and no one blamed them—his feet squeaked and clumped on snow, losing his footing, his powerful push almost losing momentum entirely...
And nothing. His feet scrabbled uselessly, ploughing furrows in the white; his thin shirt almost garrotted him, held aloft by a colossal finger and thumb. He could feel its glowing red eyes boring between his shoulders like lasers. If only he was that lucky.
Shock drove the fight from his body. They didn’t know names, they had no way of knowing names!
“Wait a little longer, Valdete Vaidenen.”
He swung his body around, almost strangling himself afresh. It didn’t matter. His breath had already stilled in terror.
The monster’s red eyes, so mundane in their awfulness, were a clear, bright green.
Its finger and thumb parted. Valdete hit the snow with a thump, his eyes still locked on what passed for the creature’s face. “Come with me,” it said, no hint of a change in its voice.
Trembling, he rose, followed its broad form back towards the scattered lines.
As he took up his place at the end, he could have sworn he caught, no louder than the wind, its artificial tones. “You will be returned.”
That was great. Perfect, even. Except for one thing.
Just where the hell was it returning him to?