“Survival of the Chosen, 4”

by Brianna G. Harte

The old floorboards creaked as his weight evenly shifted across. I followed in tandem, but not without staying alert. After stepping down the first couple steps, my ears listened for any movements. Winds obscured them from the outside, though it could not hide the crying of the wood. A minute passed without a sound. My eyes scanned for new shadows. The minimal furniture we had been allowed to keep made this rather easy. Once satisfied, the oak door was closed slowly and I headed down the stairs. The single bulb that hung from a board overhead emitted just enough light to see each step and where I was going. The darkness that hung in the air, aside from the area near the bulb, conditioned a comforting air of unknown.

Our dad sat beside Drew on the large hammock attached to sturdy poles. He brushed through my brother’s hair. A look at my face and his shoulders relaxed.

“Now, what happened?” His low, rough voice was soft, a tone I was hardly accustomed to these days.

Leaning on a pole, I told him the story, starting with the herbs we went to collect. In a low tone, I passed my suspicion that someone had watched our travel through the woods.

“Did you do anything during the week to tip them off of your plans?” Dad asked.

I shook my head, folding my arms. “Both of us did our normal work in the center of town, you know, repairing the fences around the Big House and all. They even sent me to work on plumbing.”

Dad snuffed. “ ‘Course they did.”

The pipes that the invaders had the men just a few years my elder had been constructed below ground because they wanted it so. Unfortunately, with the earthquakes that terrify our community every once in a while, they had to be repaired fairly often. This also meant that the ground above our heads along with the metal pipes could crash onto us without warning.

“When we were allowed to go home, we didn’t do anything different. Maybe they’re just paranoid.”

A deep breath was drawn. “Or they are waiting for you to slip up. Each of them knows how your mother is on that black list. They must suspect that we are figuring out who will be next, even when it’s blocked from us all.”

Copyright © 2016 Brianna G. Harte. All rights reserved.

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