TE21 Serbian Moments

Virtual Truth (short story) M. Caterina Mortillaro Translated from Italian by Sarah Jane Webb SCENE ONE – EXT. – DAY The rough ground is a flame-red color. The sky, a strange dark purpleanddottedwithstars, still yields enough light toproceed without stumbling. Puffs of dust lift at Jack’s every step. Though tired and sweaty inside his suit, he knows that the best is yet to come. He shoulders his rifle and scans his surroundings: only sand and stones to his right; behind him, his boots’ prints on the path; to the left, a rock, seemingly planted in the middle of nowhere. He adjusts the visor of his helmet for data: figures scroll before his eyes. No forms of life are lurking behind that rock, but there’s an artefact. He swerves to fetch it. It’s hard to tell what the object might be, but Jack is savvy enough to know that it’s potentially dangerous. Further analysis confirms: it’s a white phosphorus landmine, camouflaged and left there for suckers. He ignores it and resumes his trek; just then, a threatening cloud rises on the horizon to his right and speeds towards him. If he gets caught in the storm he’ll die. At once scared and excited, he bolts towards the hills he was heading for. He’s sure to find shelter there. The storm is right behind him: it’s worse than he thought. He runs like hell, ribs aching with the effort, sweat pouring between his shoulder blades and into his eyes. Almost there. He flings himself headlong into a 215

M. Caterina Mortillaro

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