I wrote this a little while ago, but I thought I’d share it since it’s short. I actually wrote it as a piece for a writing institute, but I think it may end up being a prologue to a new story (but I have way too many new stories going on right now!). Here you go!
On that night, there was little sound apart from the crackling of the leaves and corn in the wind, and the dull humming of the lethargic insects that plagued the town. A figure, dark and indistinguishable, stumbled through the field. It was too short to be the lanky, ill-tempered farmer, and too thin to be his plump, rosy-cheeked wife. The stranger emerged into the dull yellow light of the flickering lamps, revealing sickly features. She had raw skin and matted hair of an unrecognizable color underneath layers of dirt. Her eyes shone blue, searching the town for any signs of movement. She was struggling through the field with a deep wound on her leg, which had been clumsily bandaged. Her shirt was torn, and hung loose around her frame. She hobbled into the street, eyes flashing back and forth in apprehension.
The hazy lamps were all that lit up the darkened street of cracked, dusty pavement and rows of cramped houses. The yards were untidy, the grass uncut for several months due to the burning heat that was hovering over the town. Even then, in the dead of night when the stars were brightest, a hot breeze rustled the dead husks that used to be green. Beyond the row of weathered houses, where the pavement turned to gravel and dirt, a plain of corn stretched endlessly. The hard, dry vegetables meant no harvest that year. It was a pity for the farmer who lived many miles past that small, outlying town. The squat houses that huddled alongside the road varied very little in appearance. Paint peeled on the termite-infested boards, tiles chipped from the roof, and all of the darkened windows were in need of a thorough cleaning.
No one was awake, and all of the windows remained dark and blank. They had not heard the feeble movements of the injured girl. The stranger approached the nearest house, number 401, and knocked with cracked knuckles. For several long moments, she clutched her leg as it throbbed dully and listened carefully to the buzz of insects. A light flickered on in the hall behind the door, which opened. A woman with a square jaw, blonde hair in curlers, and sleepy brown eyes examined her with mingled surprise and repulsion.
“Who are you, waking up people at this time of night?” she demanded, fanning herself with her hand.
“I would tell you,” the young girl replied softly, peering past the woman and into her home, “but I can’t. They must not find me. I must not be overheard.”
The woman surveyed her critically, looking down on the girl’s bedraggled and pitiful figure. Her features softened. The girl threw furtive looks at the house, swaying on the spot. “You can stay here,” she offered. “I ought to be more polite. I just have to be careful, with all these strangers wandering around.”
The girl stepped over the threshold, wincing as her leg gave another nasty throb. “Do you want something for that?” the woman inquired, closing the door and bustling to the kitchen at the end of the hall.
“It does not matter,” the girl said sadly. “They will find me.”
The woman, assuming the girl to be a bit delirious from the heat, offered her a glass of water and a seat at the battered kitchen table. The woman sat on the opposite side of the table, scrutinizing her guest’s face. The unkempt features were thrown into sharper relief under the light in the kitchen. Dried blood caked on one side of her head, tangled in with the mud that streaked her hair. The eyes were what really caught the woman’s attention. They were brilliantly piercing with a curious sadness and understanding. The girl couldn’t have been more than ten years old.
“I’m Rose,” the woman said. “What’s your name?”
“Rose was terminated,” the girl whispered to herself, cupping the glass in her hands and looking down into it. “But you are not her. No, Rose was terminated. She is gone.”
“Wow, suffering from heat exhaustion and delirium,” Rose muttered. “Mr. Anderson from across the street went the same way.”
The girl did not reply, instead choosing to fiddle with the filthy, torn blue ribbon in her hair. Rose had decided her hair was brown, though it was impossible to really tell.
“You know,” Rose considered, “you aren’t the first one to come wandering into this town.”
Silence followed, though Rose felt tension rippling from the girl’s small figure in bolts. Rose gave her a concerned look. “I think you need to lie down,” she said. “I’ll take you to the spare bedroom in the attic. It’s not much, but…”
Rose stood up, her chair scraping loudly against the tiled floor. The girl hesitantly rose as well, setting down her nearly full glass of water on the table. She tiptoed behind Rose, throwing fearful glances around the house. “There are no butterflies here?” she asked, mostly to herself. “They are not listening?”
Rose led her up the rickety stairs to the attic. There was a small air conditioning unit that Rose immediately flicked on, attempting to relieve the stifling heat of the room. Heaps of junk littered the area, but a space had been cleared for one small cot and a lamp placed on a cardboard box. “It’s just me and my dog here,” Rose explained hastily, brushing a few mothballs from underneath the sheets. “Like I said, it’s not much.”
But the girl had already approached the bed and curled up underneath the covers, giving Rose one last grateful glance before closing her eyelids. “Thank you,” she whispered. “They must not find me. I was very bad.”
And that’s all I have for now!
P.S. The little girl was based on a character my friend came up with. That’s why this may not end up going anywhere; I don’t want her to feel like I’m stealing her idea! I just liked the idea she came up with and wrote a short piece on that. Thanks for reading!