It’s that time again! Wednesday briefs is a group of authors who write a piece of free flash fiction (between 500-1,000) words based off of either a visual or text prompt. I’ve linked the other authors, so if you could please go check out their stories and show them some support. I pulled Guardian of the Wolves because I’m working on cleaning it and expanding it further for potential publication.
This week I am introducing Darkest Before Dawn. Rose is a twenty-two year old woman who has taken custody of her younger brother Ben. The duo are fleeing cross-country, with something terrible and shadowy on their heels. They’ve come to rest in a farmhouse that’s been in their family for years–seemingly abandoned. Rose will do anything to protect her secret, and the secret that her little brother is unknowingly harboring.
I’ve used the: “Hand me that will you?”
Rose woke slowly to the sounds of bird songs. She rubbed the palms of her hands against her eyes and opened them. She rolled her shoulders, feeling the kinks and knots slowly ease out of them. She was cold, not entirely uncomfortable. Her wards provided some warmth and protection from the elements. It was the sleeping sitting up aspect that made everything hurt. She got to her feet, and winced as her joints creaked and cracked. She set the shot gun on the porch railing and stretched, saluting the sun, before turning to go back inside.
“Did you sleep at all Rosie?” Ben asked from the doorway. Rose startled and grinned a little bit.
“I did.” She picked up the shotgun and carried it in the house. “Lock the door.”
“I thought you said it was safe.” He trailed after her, the hem of his pajama pants leaving a path in the dust behind him.
“We can’t be too careful.” The gun went on the dusty kitchen sink. “Did you bring food in last night?”
“Yeah.” He opened the fridge and then closed it. “Sis, I gotta take a leak.”
“I told you to watch your mouth.” Rose sighed, eyeing the ten year old who was shifting his weight from foot to foot. “There’s an outhouse in the back. Use that until I know the plumbing is working.”
“A genuine shit house?” The expression on his face was close to maniacal glee. “Hand me that will you?” He took the offered roll of toilet tissue and dashed through the back kitchen door, the screen banging closed behind him.
It wasn’t much but by the time he had come back, and washed his hands again, under her supervision, Rose and Ben sat down to a hot breakfast of instant oatmeal and peanut butter sandwiches.
“What’s the plan for today?” Ben muttered around a mouthful of food, waving off the offered napkin.
“You’re going to sweep and mop the main floor, and bring our gear in. I’m going to check out the upstairs and start making a check list of everything that we could possibly need.”
“Sweep and mop?” Ben wiped his mouth on his sleeve and looked around at the accumulatioin of dust. “Want me to wipe down things too?”
Rose nodded, taking advantage of his enthusiasm. There was so much work to do, that if Ben wanted to do more, she’d encourage it. “You think you can handle the table? It seems a little wobbly. Maybe we’ll be able to eat dinner like normal people.”
“I’ll do it.” He said with a firm nod. “I noticed someone by the fence. When I was coming back from the shit—outhouse.” He changed his wording at the last possible moment. “They were just watchin’ he looked like a farmer.”
“Probably one of the neighbors.” Rose finished her breakfast, though it settled in her stomach heavily. “I’m sure we’ll attract some attention.” She could feel Ben’s gaze land behind her on the shotgun. “We’ll be fine. We’re the strangers here, Benji.”
“As long as you say so.” He shoved the Styrofoam dishes into a black trash bag. “I’ll get the water out of the car while you get changed.”
Rose got to her feet, and went back into the living area she had cleaned out for them the night before. She grabbed her backpack and retreated to one of the back bedrooms. It wasn’t too bad, mainly filthy, but she figured once everything was clean and painted it would be quite nice. She pulled off her sweatshirt and jeans and changed into a pair of tattered jeans and a holey t-shirt. She put her hair up into a high bun before tying on a pair of beat up running shoes. She came out of the back bedroom to find Ben sweeping, clouds of dust swirling around the room.
“Here,” She stopped his progress, tying the bandana she had stashed in her back pocket around his nose and mouth. “Sweep again once you knock all the dust off the fixtures okay?” She tipped her head back toward the staircase. “I’m going up.”
She dodged the ball of dust and grime Ben tossed at her and climbed the stairs, testing each one before pressing her full weight down. Upstairs was just as filthy as the downstairs, with a few more windows broken and what looked to be the start of a raccoon nest in one of the bedrooms. All together, the house had six good sized bedrooms, including one master bedroom and three bathrooms. She tested the water in the bathrooms, watching as the brown rust faded away to clear, cold water.
For a moment, in a flash of inspiration, as she looked out the bathroom window she could see them settling down here. She knew of a few others, some that were like her, and even a couple like Ben. There was enough land that they could expand, create a little place for themselves. They could farm, live off the land. Wild crashing and banging downstairs jarred her out of her daydream and she raced down the stairs, skipping them as she went.
“Ben?” The crashing and flailing had only gotten louder. She entered the living room to find her younger brother perched on the massive, sagging floral print couch, brandishing the broom as weapon.
“There’s a rat.”
“Where?” Rose looked around the room and saw nothing.
“I saw it Rosie, it was huge.”
“It was probably a mouse.” She went to the couch and pulled her brother down. “Go put a pot of water on the stove to boil so you have hot water to mop with okay?” She took the broom from him. “I’ll look for the mouse.”
“It’s rat!” He reached for the broom, Rose holding it over her head out of his reach. “It’s rabid.”
“It was a mouse, and it’s not rabid. Go get the hot water.” She swatted his rear with the broom as he scurried past her.
To be continued:
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