Sorry for this being a day late. I was so tried last night my brain wouldn’t stay awake long enough for me to post it, so today will be a double post with today’s story coming a bit later 🙂
This short story is from an idea that came to me yesterday as I was eating breakfast. I know, I get the strangest ideas at the strangest times! As before, it’s unedited so bear that in mind and hopefully you’ll forgive any typos, spelling and grammatical errors.
I pressed my back against the wall, the darkness enveloping me. Rough stone dug into my shoulders but I didn’t wince. I couldn’t aford to be picky about where I hid. This was the only building I had chance to get into when I heard them coming. Don’t get caught. That’s all that mattered.
Footsteps sounded down the hall. I’d left the door to this room ajar to throw off The Guard, whenever they showed up. But these weren’t the militant footsteps from work boots, these were hurried scuffled sounds.
A woman came into view, pushing her daughter into the room. She looked about 9, maybe younger. These days everyone had to grow up fast. Unless you were family of The Guard.
She rushed over to my corner. Silently I cursed at her as she shoved her daughter into the hole in which I’d crawled. Only then did the girl see me and squeeked.
“Someone’s in here Mom!” she said in a panicked whisper.
I glared at the kid, ready to shove her back out. Noise wasn’t tollerable. Noise would get us found.
“It’s ok”, said the woman, soothing her daughter and pushing her further in.
Only then did I catch the sound of more regimented footsteps coming this way. I pulled the girl closer to me, forcing her to inch back as far as she could. Too late now, she was a burden I didn’t want but one that I wouldn’t let betray my hiding place. The darkness would hide us both. But not her mother. I got ready to push them both out if she tried to climb in here too.
The woman kissed her daughter’s hand then rushed to the otherside of the room, shut the door and hid in a darkened corner. I wanted to scream at her. Shut doors were the first rooms they searched. My heart felt as though it beat in time with every step I could hear in the corridor. The girl pressed further against me. Good. She wouldn’t give me away.
The footsteps stopped outside the door to our safe haven and I felt as though I’d gone deaf. My heartbeat, our breathing, everything seemed to stop until the door handle started to turn and two men of The Guard pushed into the room.
I covered the girl’s mouth with my hand before she had time to squeek. She tried to wriggle free but I held her firm. If she suffocated that was better for her than whatever The Guard would do.
“We know someone’s in ‘ere”, one voice said, the sound moving around the room. “It’s only a matter of time before we find… you.” I could hear the smile in the last word, the emphasis not lost on me.
The woman screamed as they pulled her up from the corner. She put up a fight, lashing out with everything she was worth. As they dragged her through the door she tried to twist in their arms, presumably to look back at the daughter she’d never see again, but they held her too tightly. Like me holding her kid.
I waited, hand over the girls mouth, holding her tightly into the darkness for what must have been half an hour. Long after the footsteps had gone away; after the screaming had deminished to wimpers before they threw the woman in the van they always drove. Long after the little girl in my arms had started silently crying.
Slowly, I moved my hand from her mouth. She just sat there. I pushed her forward to get out of the hole. Staying here any longer would be bad, she needed to get it together. Slowly she crawled forward and moved to the corner they took her mother from. She turned and sat, back against the wall and looked at me.
“We have to go,” I said.
She stood and followed me out, not a word came from her. So, maybe this wouldn’t be so bad. She stays quiet, she isn’t a burden. In fact, with two of us we could scout better, I could teach her to hunt and where to find the best hiding places.
I looked over my shoulder at the kid, still following me with small quiet steps. Yeah, this wouldn’t be so bad.
As we turned a corner I heard voices in a room down the hall. We’d waited to long. I pressed back around the corner but not before someone had caught sight of my movement.
“Down there!” a voice shouted.
Running footsteps chased towards us. I looked at the kid, took her hand and shoved her around the corner.
“Stop right there!” commanded the voice as they reached the kid.
I ran, as fast as I could, in the oposite direction.
This one had a hard and brutal ‘whatever it takes to survive edge’. It worked, and was gripping, but because of the main characters actions it was difficult to warm to her without having the background she would have been given in a longer story. It’s well written though.
Thank you 🙂 I’m actually glad it was hard to warm to the MC, I wanted to try writing an unlikeable character so it’s good to know it came off alright!
Ooo, what a jerk! A bit back and forth on how you think the situation is gonna end up =P
Don’t know why, but I was surprised at the word “van.” I read the entire thing in a medieval context, imagining the guards with lit torches.
Good short story!
That is interesting! In my mind it was set in the future, post apocalyptic/dystopian kind of setting.
Oooooohhhh, a real cliffhanger and a piece about looking after number one. Not many would take it that way but you’ve done it well and brought the fear of the characters to the readers mind well.
Thank you 🙂 I wanted to try and write an unlikeable character, but deliberately left out any details about the MC so the reader has to come to their own conclusions. For all the reader knows, the MC could be 9 years old, would that change the way we feel about their actions of self-preservation? Thanks again, glad you liked it – it was an interesting piece to write!
That was just mean— but well written.
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