I missed posting for the Literary Lion flash fiction prompt “bloom” a few weeks ago, but have had a story blooming in the brain (really, an image from which the story grew) ever since. It’s been a challenge establishing a daily routine with the newest little addition to the family, and with the exception of the first round of the NYC Midnight Flash Fiction Challenge, writing has been haphazard at best. Today I finally had some time to sit and put fingers to keys to get this story out of my head.
The challenge: Create a story in 400 words (or less) based on the the prompt (“bloom”). These are characters I have been developing over a series of flash fiction prompts. We first meet them attempting to escape from a nearby city having newly rescued Bea from a Development Center, where youths are deposited by family who can’t care for them, don’t want to care for them, or are banking on stipends from the government for those who prove “useful.” Start at the beginning and follow their journey to this point, or just read this story as a stand alone. Either way, enjoy and happy trails!
Mac crouched, her breath slow and quiet as she scanned. Down the hill leafy tree tops waved, and with each sway, revealed an area of the grassland below.
Bea crawled up beside her and stayed belly down in the grass, face surrounded by dainty yellow and red blooms.
“Ya see ‘em?” She peered up at Mac, curls tangling with the flowers.
Mac shifted her gaze to the young girl, who stared up with wide brown eyes. Pressing her lips together, she shifted focus back to the tree line and nodded slightly. “When the trees bend left, look for the trucks.”
Bea turned and pressed up onto her knees, keeping her chest low.
The wind blew across the field again. “There, d’you see that?”
Bea was squinting and stretching further forward. The trees stilled and she shook her head. “Naw, I couldn’t see nuthin’.”
“C’mon, we gotta get outta the open. We’ll have a look with the scope and find a way down.”
“And look for tha boys?”
Mac held her stare for a moment. “And look for the boys.”
They began crawling towards the tree line twenty yards away. A shot roared across the open space. Both girls dropped on their fronts, hearts pounding.
Mac lay still, listening, but heard only leaves rustling. Bea lifted her head a few inches and glanced over her shoulder. Mac pointed at Bea and held up a closed fist. With the next wind gust, she slid forward and positioned herself on Bea’s left.
“Move only when the wind blows, when the flowers and grass are already in motion,” she whispered.
Bea nodded. When the next breeze crossed their backs, they crept forward. It made for slow progress, and when they reached the trees, they were shaking from crawling on their forearms and toes.
Mac found a tree to climb and Bea boosted her up. Several branches up, she positioned the rifle butt against her shoulder and peered through the old scope. The caravan of trucks was more visible now, as were the armed men who milled about them. They had moved another mile since she saw them last from the field, the front one angled awkwardly over a flat tire.
“They blew a tire.”
“D’ya see ‘em? Tommy’n John?”
Mac scanned the halted procession, then shook her head. “They must have them inside. But we’d better get moving if we’re gonna to keep up.”
Curious about the Literary Lion? Caution advised: You know what happened to the curious cat…