I had a dream and transcribed it as a #Fridayflash. Enjoy:)
Bullet for Bullet
We should have been more careful, hid better. We thought that in the rows of deserted homes and abandoned streets, no one would see us, sense us. How wrong we were.
Tim was drying the dishes I passed to him, Maria kept her legs up after having cooked all afternoon, and the kids played with the dog and the cockatoo. A perfect family picture, except that two weeks ago, we hadn’t known each other. Two weeks ago plus one day, my real family died before my eyes.
“What’s that sound?” Tim stopped me from running water over the soapy plates and we both leaned in toward the open window. “Is that a wheel creaking?” he asked me, as if I knew.
The kids stopped playing, everyone stared at each other. We’ve been found.
“Should we run?” Maria’s voice, barely audible over the racket coming from outside, came too late, like her plan. “Can you see them?”
From our third story apartment, we watched a small group of survivors passing down the small alley, doing like us and hiding from the roads. Through the dead tree branches and the ashen grounds, a man looked straight at us. Without a word, he pointed then invited me with his index finger.
“Can you manage by yourself?” asked Tim, but we all thought the same: doesn’t matter, they’ll want to meet us all anyway. “Too late to hide the food, but Sam and Miko can be quieted down.” The dog and the bird, a feast for hungry men, but dear companions to us. Luxury, keeping pets.
“Yeah, maybe in the back shed?” My voice sounded strange, higher than usual. I glanced at the kids hiding in Maria’s arms, then tried to lie the best I could. “They’re like us, don’t be afraid.” I stepped out, not finding the strength to smile or breathe.
The stairwell had been left as found, and every time we passed through, it tinted our clothes with black dust. Soles cracked the debris on each step, warning us if someone ever approached, although no one had. Until now.
Outside, the stink of gunpowder and burnt wood greeted me with its clouds overhead and smog lying close to the asphalt. Not thick enough to conceal any of us, or any of them.
They stood by the fence; their makeshift sleigh with water barrels and crates of food guarded by two thugs. They checked me out, wolf-whistled, but all I saw were guns.
“Hey there.” He spoke with a French accent, and the creases on his face showed he was mid-forties under the black gunk. “Would you care to show us your home? Just to make sure you’re abiding to the code, you know.”
I signed for him to follow me, and when two others moved in our direction, I said, loud enough, “Bullet for bullet. One of yours’ shoot, we do the same.” I lifted my chin toward Tim, aiming our sole weapon at them from up there. Five shells left, one for each of us if anything bad happened.
“Of course, we know how to play.” The man walked behind me, and although I heard only his footsteps, I couldn’t help but look over my shoulder. Three women, eight men and a corpse hanging at the back of the sleigh. A warning or a loved one? “How long you’ve lived here?”
“Two weeks.” The initial contact, I wanted to remain silent. Tim was the diplomatic one, the one people believed. When the silence became unbearable – around the second floor – I asked, “How long you’ve been running?” They were nomads, gypsies, pirates. The worst kind of humans.
“Much like you, about fourteen days.” His accent clashed against the empty rooms and echoed back to me.
“Go in,” I said with a quick shake of the head. When he opened the door, Maria and the kids stood up with fear in their eyes, I had to turn away. I jumped at the thud of thick wood closing behind me and knew with certainty: I’ll never see these people again.
January 26th, 2012 at 8:58 am
Love it, eerie atmosphere, creepy visuals. So many questions and consequences, that ending is magic.
Expertly done, Anne. Wunderbar!
January 26th, 2012 at 9:05 am
Great building of tension, and I love the way you left it hanging there.
January 26th, 2012 at 9:30 am
ahhh wait I want to read more! Awesome stuff, Anne 🙂
January 26th, 2012 at 9:43 am
That is a really enjoyable read. Good job.
January 26th, 2012 at 10:31 am
Wicked, sweet friend. A haunted existence in which humanity tries to remember traces of itself, only to realize all of humanity isn’t innocent. (Hugs)Indigo
January 26th, 2012 at 10:57 am
Dark and ominous. I felt the fear and uncertainty. Well done.
January 26th, 2012 at 11:10 am
Love your voice, Anne! Awesome tension! Love the ending!
January 26th, 2012 at 12:23 pm
The sense of oppression and doom is palpable. Really good! 🙂
January 26th, 2012 at 1:45 pm
Okay now I’m deeply depressed. LOVE IT! lol, well done, really dark and tense. 🙂
January 26th, 2012 at 2:21 pm
It’s a dog eat dog world and you captured it beautifully. Thanks for sharing it x
January 26th, 2012 at 2:45 pm
Good stuff -really atmospheric.. The best thing about your writing talent is that when you get published, and they want to do a movie and TV series, you’ll be able to write your own screenplays 🙂
January 26th, 2012 at 7:43 pm
This is so good. It really feels like there’s an entire world happening away from these characters – such a feat in so few words. Fantastic ending, too. Would read a lot more of this, for sure. Thanks, Anne.
January 27th, 2012 at 1:22 am
Colin stole the words from my mouth (keyboard)…eery atmosphere. Very nicely done, Anne.
January 27th, 2012 at 2:10 am
Great visual writing, I like how you left it to us to decided what really happens.
January 27th, 2012 at 3:20 am
You do a superlative job of building up the unexplained fear of being found and pursued, which is in turn a good tribute to the dream it came from. Not that your dream necessarily had such anxiety, but such anxieties in my dreams at least once per week.
January 27th, 2012 at 11:34 am
Holy wow, that was rich. Like Jack, I want to read more in this world. What happened before?
January 27th, 2012 at 12:58 pm
Okay, I want to know what you ate before dreaming this.
What a wonderfully creepy feel to the whole piece. Nice.
January 27th, 2012 at 2:33 pm
A wicked twist and one that works well with the building that you’ve done in the piece. Thanks for that Anne.
January 27th, 2012 at 6:44 pm
Visually stimulating in a dark and ominous way. Loved the tension and the scene. Hated the cliffhanger only because I want to keep reading!! Where’s the rest Anne???!! Don’t stop…. it’s so well done!
January 27th, 2012 at 7:26 pm
This definitely leaves the reader wanting more, and certainly has the feel of a much longer piece, a post apocalyptic world, with severe rules. What cataclysmic event brought the world to this? I for one would love to know.
January 30th, 2012 at 5:57 pm
I’ve been eager to read this ever since you mentioned the dream in a tweet 🙂 Really loved it, it was gripping and well paced and very VERY intriguing! I’m a bit confused at the end though, why won’t she see them again? Is she going to run now too, or does she know that they’ll be killed, or something that I’m missing? Or is this the lead into a longer story to come? (which would be really great to see!)?
February 14th, 2012 at 8:38 pm
[…] Anne Michaud – Recently discovered and the writer of two fantastic pieces of short fiction, “Bullet for Bullet” and “Blood for Blood”. I will be reading much more. Nice lady, […]
September 28th, 2012 at 8:20 am
[…] tend to do when you least expect them to. So here’s the third and final installment, after Bullet for Bullet and Blood for Blood. Enjoy, Friday […]