Night Flight

Photo: Sue Vincent

 

It was the island that saved her, in the beginning, in the middle, in the end.

At first it had been the noting of it. The realization that there was a place, not large and yet separate enough as to hold its own. Like herself, if she could manage it.

She wasn’t sure when exactly the understanding settled, only that she’d come to trust that if she ever had to, she could go there. To be safe.

That knowledge had held her in the years of interim. The island was the picture that she’d scanned across her mind each night as she tried to not take notice of what was taking place in her, on her, all around her. She took herself there, in a sense, long before she actually did. She nursed her wounds with the option. It was a salve onto her lacerated soul.

Then came the end.

Or the beginning.

Of other things. Of opportunity. Of a rebuilding of what she could be and didn’t until then form into a tangible possibility.

She made her way there under darkness. She’d had all the facts by then, gathered through secreted research and observation: the distance, the temperature of the water in different seasons, the topography, the places where there had been some shelters, and the times when people weren’t likely to frequent.

It rained the night she fled. A calculated risk she took and refused to worry could backfire. To stay would have been worse. She wouldn’t, anyhow.

The chill sucked her breath but also numbed her agony. She swam. She swam. She slammed laden limbs into the water and took herself onto the island and clenched her teeth against the chatter. The crossing had taken all she had. Almost. Just almost.

For from the flicker of willpower that remained, she lit a shallow fire, and the flame sustained her through the night and into dry clothes and the final ease of trembling. By the next night she slept, and by the third she made her plans for what else she’d need to be doing.

And she laughed.

For the first time in a long time.

Because she was safe.

She was not large, but she was now separate enough to hold her own. And she was strong.

He’d look for her, but he would not risk telling others, and he would not seek her where she was. She knew.

Her father feared the water, and from the moment she’d realized how the island could offer an escape, she’d made sure he believed she feared the water, too.

 

 

 

For Sue Vincent’s Write Photo challenge

 

A Roof Over Her Head

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Photo prompt: Michael Gaida @ Pixabay.com

 

It looked deserted from the outside, and if someone risked a broken neck to view the inside from the roof, it did not look all that more promising from that angle, either, which was exactly as intended.

It would not do to broadcast the availability of shelter when there were more who sought to ruin what was left than wanted to actually have a roof over theirs.

Better it appeared abandoned and on its last legs already.

The rules were clear: You do not venture out of the pits without permission, and never in daylight. No light allowed during nighttime. Night-vision goggles only. The internal covers at the bottom of pits, which obscured the actual bunker, were to be drawn only after the scopes ensured no one was in the perimeter. The motion sensors were examined weekly. The roof’s latches every other. They could take no risks.

Few had a roof over their heads since the cataclysm, and those who had been fortunate to find or be allowed under one, did best if they kept a low profile or they were certain to lose it. The roof. And the head.

Dingo knew all that.

He also knew that Marlee was out there somewhere, and that the only way for her to find him was for him to plant a signal she would recognize.

How, though, when he was still a Probational and wouldn’t be trusted to come topside without escort for another month?

He tossed and turned on his berth until Steven threw him out, ordering him to go jog on one of the treadmills till he got sleepy.

The common room was empty. The airlock doors blinked slowly to indicate the pit covers had been opened.

It won’t take but a moment to leave Marlee a sign.

 

 

 

For the FFFC photo prompt

 

Forget The ABC

Photo: Sue Vincent

 

“If you knew where it goes, would you follow?”

Efran peeked down the leaf-strewn stone shaft and rough steps. “I can see where it goes,” he pointed. “There.”

Jerow shook his head. It could be difficult to know with Efran, whose disposition tended to be ebullient to the point of daft, whether the lad was deliberately vexing or totally clueless. “Yes, you see what looks like the bottom of the stairs, but what’s behind it? Where does it go?”

Efran took anther step and leaned closer to the crack between the stones, absentmindedly pushing back the locks of hair that forever escaped out of his braid. “Well, only one way to know.”

“Wait,” Jerow reached for Efran’s arm. He glanced behind him toward the encampment they’d wandered away from. The trees obscured it. Unless others were stretching restless legs while the elders deliberated the day’s route over morning tea, no one would know where they are. “Shouldn’t we tell someones?”

“Why? So they open a whole new round of discussions about who should be allowed to go down there first and at what auspicious hour?”

Jerow had to admit Efran had a point. If the elders knew about this, they’d probably find reason to forbid it, and if they didn’t know about this, they’d forbid it all the more. Probably claim ABC and CBC.

“Advice Before Carelessness” and “Caution Before Curiosity” were endlessly drilled and just as often resented. How was anyone to learn anything new or do anything exciting if inevitable delays always took precedent to investigation?

Still, he wondered if in this particular case there was merit to at least asking before launching oneself into a crack in the ground. They were, after all, in what everyone knew were haunted territories. He looked around again, almost hoping for someone to stop them.

“Forget the ABC!” Efran dropped his feet onto the steps and used his arms to brace against the narrow walls. “I want to see! Stick to your letters or come with me!”

 

 

 

For Sue Vincent’s WritePhoto