This short story/flash fiction is written for the photo prompt at Describli.
The Next Worst Thing (Annihilation #2)
Genre: Dystopian, Post-Apocalyptic, Young Adult
I make my way quietly to the other side of the road, hiding in the shadows of the cars on the road.
I turn back for a second and sneak a look at the frail figures of Lilly and Grandma worming their way slowly behind me. If I’d been alone I would have already crossed the North Fork last week. But I’m not. I have a responsibility. And I’m not ready to abandon it, unlike Ian.
I don’t blame Ian for deciding to leave us behind. I understand the need of surviving. I know that the presence of a 70-year-old lady and a 5-year-old girl is a sure way to death, but I don’t care about that. I’ve already lost enough to be scared of death. Death can’t do me any harm. I just want to make sure that before the Others get me I’ll get grandma and Lilly to the safety of the Camp.
The Camp is beyond the river on North Fork. If we continue our journey tonight we’ll be there by tomorrow afternoon. But that is if we continue tonight. I can already hear Lilly complaining to grandma about her sore legs. I know she won’t admit it, but even grandma is looking tired, really tired.
As soon as I cross the road, I sit beside a car that is standing at an awkward angle on the side of the road. Three doors are open as if the family sitting inside got out of the car and ran when the Others came out of the ground wailing.
Well, I hope that they made it alive and are safely tucked into soft beds at the Camp at this moment. The idea makes me smile- a warm bed, a soft pillow and a good night’s sleep- the simple pleasures of the world before the Others took over. We took them for granted never realizing that we had everything we ever wanted. But we humans always craved for something better. More. Always more.
I sigh heavily trying to change the track my thoughts are leading me towards. Right now I would kill anyone to get a good night’s sleep.
Grandma and Lilly sit beside me, listening to the sounds of the night carefully. Trying to listen to anything that sounds out of place. By now it’s almost second nature to us. The Others always make this swishing noise when they walk or move, or whatever the hell they do with their knees bent in awkward directions, gliding on the ground. Face tilted sideways and wearing the same expression- a bloodcurdling smile that stretches from ear to ear.
I motion for them to follow me to the dark shop in front of us. Its door is ajar and it looks mostly abandoned. We can rest here for an hour or two and then continue.
I wake up to the sound of a loud screaming. My hand automatically reaching for the gun resting on my coat. It’s a distant screaming. The Others are here.
I wake up Grandma and Lilly slowly shaking them. They know enough to not make any noise even if I startle them every time I do this.
They wake up and like me reach for their weapons, a worn baseball bat and a butcher’s knife for Grandma.
We slowly move, not walk, but move without lifting our feet off the ground. Making a noise like a windblown dirt would make in an open field. That’s the way to move when Others are around. We figured it the night Mom died.
Slowly we go towards the back door and move towards the trees that line the other side of the shop.
Woods are always a safe place, so many animals walking, it confuses the Others. We move faster as we make it into the forest.
The sun will be out in less than an hour, then we’ll be able to walk, or if we’re lucky, run. We need to make it to the Noth Fork by tonight. We’ve already tested our luck more than a dozen times. And I have a feeling that it won’t be long before the Others get us.
We continue without stopping and as the sun starts rising, so does our hope- like every single day from last 2 weeks.
But it will end today. We’ll go to the safety of the Camp and as far away from the others as we can.
The sun is setting as we make the final turn. I can see the Camp in the distance. The evening light plays tricks with our vision and the Camp itself looks like a mirage or an elusive dream that’ll vanish the moment we’ll step closer.
But as we continue to walk towards it, it becomes clearer and clearer and we know that we’ve made it. Finally, we’ve beaten all the odds and made it to the Camp. I’m sure Ian will be embarrassed to see that his little sister made it to the Camp without abandoning the seemingly useless baggage.
There are a few boats resting on the riverside along with a couple of worn off paddles in them. We quickly get onboard and Grandma and I start paddling with hurrying motions, well aware that the sun has almost set.
As we drift closer to the Camp I start to have a weird feeling in the pit of my stomach.
Something’s not right.
And as the realization dawns on me, I hear the swishing noise around our boat.
I look up at the darkening sky- the sun has set.
The Next Worst Thing (Annihilation #2)
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.
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