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. The prompt I’ve used this week is: A friend is someone who has the same enemies as you do
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.
Rose sidestepped past him, now even more unwilling to have her back to him. She ran cold water over a dishtowel, rang it out and threw it at him. He caught it one handed and pressed it to his bleeding face. She took three more steps to the left, hand reaching behind her, grasping the barrel of the shotgun. She pulled it from the space between fridge and counter, and sat opposite him at the table. Her chair pulled away from it, muzzle of the gun pointed at Darren.
“Who are you? Don’t give me this good ole boy bullshit.”
“I’m a friend of yours.” There was extra stress on the fact that he was her friend. “I don’t want anything to happen to you.”
“What aren’t you telling me?” Her hands never wavered, never shook, she simply lifted the gun a bit harder, focus point the center of his forehead. It would be a bitch to clean, but she’d do anything to keep Ben and his secret safe. In the wrong hands, with the proper motivation, her brother could be used as a weapon.
“I know what you can do.” He exhaled, the cloth fluttering as he did so. “I had my suspicious when you showed up. You two matched the reports pretty damn close.” He wiped his hand on his t-shirt leaving a smear of blood and a dark stain of water. “You colored your hair, and both of you were underweight.”
“You really aren’t helping your situation by talking circles.” She clicked off the safety, the sound deafening. She heard the shower cut off. “Hurry up.”
“You think you and Ben are alone?” He said. Darren set the bloody rag on the table, then put both hands, palm down on the old wooden table. He shifted forward, pressing his weight against the table. They were nearly six feet apart, but she could see the jump of his pulse in his neck, the slight sheen of sweat on his upper lip. She took a deep breath, held it for a moment, finger caressing the trigger. If he moved any more, she’d exhale and pull. Smooth, practiced and cold. A necessity.
The sound of footsteps on the stairs. She swallowed hard, throat dry, eyes never leaving Darren. “You stay up there for a few minutes kiddo. I’m dealing with something, and you don’t need to see it.” She counted the footsteps as Ben retreated back to his room.
The table jerked, for lack of a better word. It buckled under Darren’s hands the scent of fresh cut oak and green filling the room. Under his hands the table danced, growing more pale, the wood reverting from old and stained, knotted to clean, green wood. She watched as it shrank, splintering into individual slabs of wood. Nails fell out, clattering to the floor, the chunks of wood crashing down as well.
“Stay there!” She yelled back. She pushed her chair back from the heap of green wood, and got to her feet, gun loose in her hands.
“That’s all I can do while we’re inside.” Darren said. His nose had started to bleed profusely, bright red against his skin as it dripped from his chin onto his shirt. His hands were shaking, he sat heavily on the floor. “You heal, he destroys, I have an affinity for earth.” He paused. “Well organic things. I can’t revert something that’s inorganic or inert.”
“How? How did you do that?”
“The same way you healed me the day we met.” He said. “Speaking of, can you help me out? I could really use it.”
She took his offered hand, and without a second thought she felt his pain, the agony of the raging headache, the pain radiating from the back of his head from his display and the front of his face in absolute agony due to her punching him in the face. He was exhausted, and she swayed on her feet, before sinking to a crumpled heap next to him. She felt Darren take the gun from her hand, put the safety back on, and set it aside.
“Don’t touch me.” She snapped, swatting his hand away. His pain was intolerable, almost too much for her to handle. Minutes ticked by, the hand of the clock too loud, before the pain began to melt away.
“You can feel what I feel?”
“Yes.” She hissed out between clenched teeth. Rose pulled herself to a sitting position, head between her knees, fighting off nausea. “Don’t you have a reaction?”
“Migraines really. The bigger party tricks make me bleed.” He said easily. “I told you we’re friends.”
“I don’t know you.”
“We’re the most dangerous type of friends.” He said cheerfully. She peeked, and he was smiling. The urge to hit him or vomit on him rose to mind, and she battled both back. “A friend is someone who has the same enemy as you. Didn’t you learn that in high school?”
“You’re really fucking chipper.” She muttered. The pain had mainly dulled save for the throbbing in the center of her face.
“The kid is on the stairs. Want me to intercept while you gather yourself?”
“I should have shot you.” Rose said between clenched teeth. Darren’s hand landed on her shoulder, squeezed.
“That wouldn’t have been very neighborly now would it?”
To Be Continued.