Fiction Friday, also Sci-Fi Friday again this week. The prompt from the folks at The Red Dress Club was; This week, we want fightin’ words. Write a piece about a fight. What happened? Why? Who “won”? What were the repercussions? Show us. Use emotion. Description. If it’s a fist fight, what did it feel like to hit someone – or be hit? What does it feel like to be screamed at – or get the silent treatment? And since there is a lot of actual fighting in Sci-Fi Land, I thought I’d bring you a battle of a different sort. Enjoy. (Hopefully) Previously, Clare and her brother Edward have been brought back to the compound it is unknown if they are friend or foe. This is from Tyler’s POV.
Setting the food down outside the door I open the door slowly, bracing for a blitz attack. Clare is standing up against the opposite wall, military style, her brother Edward is squatting on his heels next to her.
“I brought you some food and water,” she nods. I set it in the middle of the room. They both go for the water first. She takes small sips slowly and places her hand on her brother’s shoulder reminding him to drink only what he needs and to save the rest for later. “Has he always been mute or…?”
“I will speak only to her,” she says looking over my shoulder. Sci is standing in the doorway.
“You shouldn’t be up,” I tell her.
She smiles, “If you had your way I wouldn’t be. It’s ok, leave us.”
“I’ll be right outside.” I leave the door open and lean against the wall to listen.
Sci stands as straight as she can, “It’s a fair question, about your brother.”
“He used to talk, but he caught the plague and survived, so I don’t know if he is still able.”
A plague survivor, almost unheard of. Valuable and dangerous beyond measure.
“How many people know that he survived?”
“Why tell me?”
“A gesture of faith.”
“Or bait,” points out Sci.
The tension in the room rings metallic as the will of these two women slam up against each other.
“Or that. Maybe both.”
Sci shifts her weight, “You know what I want to know.” Clare nods, giving nothing. Edward watches the exchange, mute maybe, but deaf he’s not. Sci bites the inside of her lower lip and switches tactics. “You should eat. Both of you.”
“What about you?” Clare asks.
“I ate last night.”
A flicker of surprise that the leader here eats no more than the group, this softens Clare. She touches Edward again and he reaches for the bowl. After taking two hurried mouthfuls he slows himself. Clare doesn’t move for the food, she drinks more water as she weighs how much to say.
“The group was large, but unorganized. Marcus started killing the people who didn’t come back with food, as an example, and then decided that meat of any kind was better than starving.”
“Where were you?”
“Originally, he was holed up in a warehouse by the water, I think he actually worked there before. But once it became filthy with waste we just moved on. That’s how it went, find a place, foul it, move on.”
“Over a hundred at first. Their sheer numbers made people steer clear. But they started losing people, some for meat, some because they came across groups like yours.”
Sci’s eyebrow twitches at the ‘they’ not ‘we.’ “Pure scavengers then?”
“Do they know where we are?”
“Not exactly, but they had narrowed it down to this area.”
“How long before they find us?”
“With Marcus gone, longer, but not long enough.”
“How did they get you?” Clare’s head snaps back as she grimaces. Sci nods. “Ok. Another time. Thank you.” She backs out of the room and locks it behind her. We head back to the stairs that Sci takes one at a time, favoring her leg. Stepping out into the sunshine she stretches and exhales, “Shit.” I wait. Sci chooses her words carefully, “We’re going to have to go sooner, much sooner.”
Even though I know she knows, “We aren’t ready. Not nearly.”
“I know, but we can’t keep fighting like this. If they find us and set fire to the compound then everything will be lost and we’ll be traveling with no supplies, even more desperate than we are now.
“As soon as possible.”