Chapter 1-1


I hadn’t thought much about death. What it truly meant to die, not in seven long years. The Far Beyond was an ambiguous, sometime in the future, reality for us all.

Was I prepared for The Oracle of Death to take me into the void of the unknown? To follow my mother and brother? I was only nineteen. I’d hardly yet to live.


My throat clogged and my heart raced at a frantic pace. The fear of my immediate death crashed over me.


That’s the name we call the creatures that feed off of bodies. Some dead, but mostly those that are injured and still half alive.

I listened carefully, shutting out the sounds of my family and Carter collectively holding their breaths. I couldn’t detect the sound of anything living. Not even the faintest of a gasp and thankfully not that of any hushed groans.

The lack of noise didn’t make me feel any calmer. If there truly was a Prayers in here with me I didn’t stand much of a chance, if any.

I began to quake uncontrollably. The full extent of Carter’s fear slamming home.

‘Just a little longer, longer, longer. Jammy will see that you’re home free, free, free. But he better be quick, quick, quick. Or you’ll both be in a fix, fix, fix.’

Jake’s voice was back in my head. It was a little high pitched and spoken in a singsong rhyming fashion. It didn’t reassure me. It made me feel even more jittery.

The jaggedness of my accelerated breathing in my ears fuelled my fear. Horrifying imagines of what was about to happen had me frozen in place.

After the canisters fell, and so much of our world changed, we were forced to rename a large part of our animal and insect species.

Whether the Prayers got the name because they resembled a four foot tall praying mantis with a scorpion tail, or because anyone who met up with the terrifying creature had better start saying a prayer, I couldn’t tell you. Obviously I’ve never seen one. Nor would I be standing here if I’d stumbled upon one at some point in the past.

Carter, the only one I knew who had actually seen Prayers, had told me precious little. Except that here was no escaping a Prayers.

All four feet, including the head and the scorpion-like tail, of the creature was encased in a layer of armoured skin. So thick that, for all intents and purposes, Prayers were indestructible. Bullets, blades, not even explosives were purported to cause much damage. And with Prayers, you couldn’t even wish for a quick death. No, death was slow and horrific.

It was the tail, curling around the head, that was so deadly. Carter described it as a slithering serpent with a fat little porcupine on the end. Quill-like spikes jutted out of the stinger end. Spikes that were close to a foot long with the intended purpose of going straight through tissue, muscle, and bone.

You’d think that the force of one barrage of stinging spikes ripping through your body at lightening speed would kill you instantly. The spikes didn’t work that way. They weren’t designed to kill. They were designed to absorb.

That’s how Prayers’ fed. Once the spikes were embedded into living tissue, they began sucking all the juices out of you. Since our bodies are comprised of mostly fluids the draining process could take hours, possibly days.

“Twenty paces.”

Carter’s voice broke into my thoughts. I tried to focus. What was he counting? Oh, yeah, my brother was-

I screamed in panic. “No, Jam! Jammy, no! Don’t come any closer! Go back!”

My brother’s voice, hard and determined reverberated through the speakers. “Not an option.”

Angie’s voice quickly followed. “Stop! You won’t make-”

“Stow it, Ange!”

My heart began to race faster as I shouted over and over. “No, Jam…please…no! Go back, Jam, go back! Turn around!” But my words were drowned out by Angie and Jam’s continued argument.

I brought my hands up to press them against my head. I felt the smooth hard surface of my helmet and suddenly wanted to rip it off. Use the helmet as a weapon to throw at the damned Prayers, wherever the hideous creature was.

I clenched my fists. I couldn’t bring myself to remove my helmet. Their voices, those of my family, however shrill and angry they were would be the last thing I would ever hear. I couldn’t let them go. And then it hit me, sharp like a knife to my heart. I couldn’t let Carter go either.

“Jake, please. Please, Jake…please” I whispered in a pleading mantra. I don’t know why I was all of a sudden talking to my dead brother, but I was. “Don’t let Jam die. Please…please…don’t let him die.”

©Legend of the Sapphyre Wings by Janet Merritt