Thursday, February 20, 2014

Prompt: Staring Down the Crocodile

Allie sat on the old rusted stands overlooking the river. Perched at the end of the third row, she could see around the river’s bend, where the rapids flattened out and the water grew slow and murky. On the far side, a crocodile floated, his pale belly and arms barely visible in the brown flow. Only his eyes showed above the water, locked on Allie.

They stared at each other, unblinking. Allie knew he could move faster than she could scramble up the bleachers, leftover from some public spectacle long before the Collapse. Now people avoided the river – and the crocs.

Which made it the perfect hideout for Allie and her sister. June had gone hunting in the early hours and taken both their handmade spear and bow. Allie had her staff and a wicked blade, but she didn’t think either would be much defense against a full-grown croc. She couldn’t tell for sure, but this one seemed small, maybe seven feet long. Savvy though, staying still and hidden for so long.

June would be mad if she pulled energy – it might draw attention. And she couldn’t always control it. They’d had to leave the commune when June pulled enough energy with her first blood to burn the fields. Even their mother turned away from her, fear in her eyes. Everyone but June, who tightened her lips until they were white and stomped across the floorboards as she threw their few possessions in two backpacks and held Allie’s hand tightly while they walked out, heads high.

Allie had tried to control it, a little each month, and she got better, enough so that she didn’t set fields or trees on fire when she pulled the energy down from the sky. But she couldn’t control it enough to be of any use for them, such as hunting, so June told her not to risk someone seeing it and finding them.

But June was gone. And Allie had sat on the cold rusty bleacher a long time. And the croc wasn’t moving as long as she didn’t, but if she tried to climb up, it might chase after her. Surely, surrounded by all this concrete and metal and water, she couldn’t do too much damage to anything by the croc? She would try a very, very little bit, the thinnest line of energy from the sky into the river. Maybe she could even cook the croc and surprise June with dinner when she returned.

She closed her eyes and concentrated, imagining a pool of light high above, spooling down in a long thin ribbon into the water across from her. The unique smell of burning air snapped open her eyes, at the same time she heard June’s voice crying out, “Allie! Allie! What have you done?”

Dogs in house

Time writing
~30 minutes, interrupted

February word count

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