A friend of mine from the creative inspiration site, Writers Jar let me use one of her images to jump start a short story. Here is the final product.
Hiding in the small spaces of the concrete foundation seemed like a good idea at the time.
I was virtually invisible to the marching waves of feet that passed by just inches from my knuckles; buried in pungent dirt. Those feet had long since stopped but still I remained hidden. The waiting was hard.
Cold air stung my cheeks and pinched my nose. Through a sliver of space between dirt and concrete I counted seven dark mounds discarded across the lawn. I watched for any sign of movement but they lay there like stones tossed to the ground in a children’s game. Whoever they had been, their names were long since forgotten. The wind whipped across the driveway and carried with it a familiar high pitched noise. Air froze in my lungs as if all the cold wind in the world had gathered in one big sigh and settled there.
My eyes squinted. In the early evening dusk I could make out a strong beam of headlights bouncing down Jackson Heights Drive and turn in towards me. My heart was a leaden thing; heavy and unfeeling. Still, when the roaring pickup screeched into the yard spitting gravel and raining bullets into the dark mounds that dotted the lawn, a quiet tremble took up in my hands.
“Whoo boy, did you see that? I plugged her straight ‘tween the eyes.”
“That weren’t you-”
“Cut the engine!”
Men’s voices shouted over the noise of the engine until it stopped with a sputter. Two pairs of black and camo boots jumped from the bed of the truck and rattled up the stairs into the building. I felt the vibration of their steps and scurried to where I could see better, a shoulder sized hole in the concrete.
There was a chaos above me. Shouting, swearing and shooting. A body tumbled down the stairs and biffed into the dirt not far from me. Some man. His eyes blinked and blinked. I held my breath.
It took a few more seconds and then the bullets stopped. More thumping sounds. They wouldn’t find much.
“Come on..let’s hurry this shit up” a voice from the truck yelled.
“Yeah, we’re on our way…there’s nothing in here anyway”
I gripped the sand with cracking fingers and closed my eyes. Something particularly foul crept inside my nostrils and forced my eyes open wide. Crawling, ever so slowly in my direction; the dying man with blinking eyes. His stink blew into my hidden crevice and I started to gag.
I held my nose and mouth below my shirt collar to keep the worst of it away. What was he doing? His blank eyes stared straight into mine. The gunman from the truck ambled closer, not bothering to finish off the crawling man but getting close to where I hid.
A flurry of footsteps and the other men were back in their vehicle.
“Come on let’s go!”
“Hold up. This bag o’ meat found somethin’…” camo boots crunched closer still.
I bit my tongue to keep from crying out. The dead man, gravel rasping under his fingers was only inches away, his eyes locked onto mine with a sort of desperate plea while his body completely blocked the hole in the foundation. If I scuttled back further he would only follow me inside with no way to defend myself. I reached down alongside my leg for the cold handle of my 6 inch kitchen knife. I held it in front of my face and waited one more breathe. Perhaps the man from the truck would leave.
The dying man must have been attractive at one time, well built and in his mid-fifties. Wearing the standard flannel plaid shirt of the working man. His mouth hung slack and showed his teeth; most of them broken. He closed a hand around the opening and I stared into his blank eyes. Bunching up my legs I let myself spring out of the hole and directly into his face, knife leading the way. I landed in a heap on top of him creating a flurry of curses from the men in the truck.
“What the ….somebody grab her”
“Where’d she come from?”
I didn’t wait for their reactions. I sprinted out to the storage units which were a football fields distance and I was never the fastest runner. Still, there was plenty of motivation behind me.
“Get back here!”
“Come on kid, you do not wanna do this!”
The sound of their breath, heavy and labored was almost obscene and much too close. The doors to the sheds were farther than I thought. Frustration turned in my belly; a sickening feeling. It was too far.
“Aaaahhhh!!” My impotent yell echoed out into the field, startling a few ravens and nothing else.
In quick succession the closest footsteps took a one two jump to catch up to me and suddenly my vision went black, my legs turned in the soft sand and the last thing I remember was the sound of gasping breaths. I think they were mine.