Darkest Before Dawn (Wednesday Briefs #4)

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 continuing with 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: “You’re deluding yourself if you think that.”

“You’re deluding yourself if you think that.” Rose said. “I don’t make friends.”

“Would you call us enemies right now?”

“I think it’s time for you to go.” The banter was starting to grate on her nerves, and she wanted nothing more than to wipe the smug, self serving grin off of his ruggedly handsome face. Either with her fist or her mouth, she wasn’t sure, and knew she didn’t like the fact that she was considering either option.

Darren shrugged at her, his body relaxed and calm. “I’ll be heading out then. Seriously though, just holler if you need anything. I’ll come runnin’ with bells on.”

“Do you have any rat bait?” When his back was turned it was easier to focus on things like the supposed rat Ben had encountered. Though the pale heather grey t-shirt hugged Darren’s broad shoulders like a second skin, and his jeans fit like a glove.

“I’ll bring some by, after I run into town. Need anything else while I’m there?” He turned, slightly, treating her to his profile. “Ya’ll need new lights? Last night there was a hazy glow comin’ from here. Part of the reason I swung by.” He paused, “Fireplace is probably filthy, don’t run another fire for light until you clean it.”

Rose’s mouth went dry when he mentioned the hazy light. She stared at him, her heart pounding hard in her chest as she tried to figure out if he too had a gift. “How do you clean the fireplace?” Thankfully her voice was steady.

“Drop a chicken down it.”

“Excuse me?” Rose blinked, unsure if he was joking or not.

“I’ll clean it for you.” Another wide grin. “Relax, it was a joke. I wouldn’t harm something that I eat for dinner that way. You didn’t think I was serious did you?”

“Maybe just a little bit.”

Darren reached out and patted her shoulder. “I wouldn’t do that.” His touch lingered, unintentionally she thought. A dull ache of pain appeared behind her eyes, radiating through her head, the bright light of the sun momentarily blinding her, and the smallest sounds amplified causing the throbbing to get worse, her stomach rolled uncomfortably, everything just a little bit off– the symptoms going away after he moved his hand. He blinked at her and took his cap off turning it over and over in his hands.

“Something wrong?” She asked. The pain faded, and she knew that from the touch she had taken away his migraine. Her gift was healing, the only catch being she had to have contact with the person who was suffering.

“Naw, just trying to keep tabs on everything that I need to get.” He jammed the hat back on his head. “Light bulbs, rat bait and chimney sweep.” He said out loud. “Along with hen feed, honey and new jeans.”

“Just bring me a receipt when you’re done, I’ll pay you back.” Rose put space between them, arms over her chest, protecting herself.

The front door crashed open, and Ben came out. “I told you there was a rat!” He had a broom in one hand and an animal in the other. “See! A rat! You thought it was a mouse. You’re so full of shit Rosie. So full of shit. You owe me pizza.” He waved the bleeding animal in her direction.

“Hey city slicker?” Darren’s voice was thick with laughter. “That’s not a rat, that’s a possum.” He brushed past Rose, and went up the stairs to Ben. “You might want to put that down buddy. It’s just playin’ dead. And when it figures out you aren’t gonna eat it, it’s gon’ get pissed.”

“I didn’t see it! For the record.” Rose bound up the stairs, and pried the possum from Ben’s death grip. “Go wash your hands, Ben and you can go explore around here okay? Just don’t go over the fences, and don’t pick up any more animals.” She turned to Darren, and thrust the possum at him. “Stop laughing and do something with this.”

He took the possum from her. “I’ll go put this somewhere else. You finish up your rugs, and then you’ll want to start patching the holes up in the house.” He turned and went down the stairs, putting the possum on the ground. “There’s plywood in the shed that’s right on the fence border between our properties. Use that to patch, and we’ll figure something out once you find out how much is damaged.”

“Are there going to be more of those things in the house?”

“If there are, just let them alone. I’ll come get them when I get back.” Darren wiped his hands on his jeans. “I’ll be back in a couple hours.” He started down the drive, paused halfway, “Hey Rosie, there’s a crick about half a mile after the turn-off for Mullund drive. It’s clean and clear and the kid can play. You look like you need a bit of nature’s good touch. I’ll come get you when I’m back here.” With that said, he continued up the drive.

Rose stood on the porch watching him walk off, staring even after he had disappeared from view. Ben came back to her, slipped his hand into hers and gave it a squeeze.

“Rosie, what’s a crick?”

“Hick-speak for a creek.” She squeezed his hand. “You did really well with the floors. What do you say you go explore with your sister?”

“You think it’ll be okay?”

She glanced down at the ten year old who sounded more world weary than she was. “Yeah, it’ll be okay. Go get the backpack and fill it with water bottles, and one of the blankets. I’ll make some sandwiches for a snack.”

— To Be Continued.

Please check out this week’s other flashers:

JC Wallace
Nephylim
MA Church
AR Von
MC Houle
Elyzabeth VaLey
Rob Colton
Chris T Kat
Cia Nordwell
Jon Keys
Tali Spencer
Andrew Gordon
Renee Stevens
Julie Lynn Hayes

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