Friday, August 3, 2012

FFF: A Cry From The Hunted


Every Friday Kurt is posting a new work of flash fiction. Starting this week, my friend Carolyn is editing these for me, so look for fewer typos, less overall ambiguity, and more commas. This week's story...

A Cry From The Hunted
Word Count: 599

The apartment door gave way with a tremendous crack under the force of Tye’s boot. He readied his shotgun and swept left. Gordon followed, sweeping the opposite direction.

“Clear,” Tye whispered. He and Gordon moved down the hallway, checking rooms as they passed, until they ended up in the bedroom at the far end. The room was empty. The apartment was empty. The building, most likely, was empty. The neighborhood… well, there was always someone out there, wasn’t there?

“Clear,” said Tye, not bothering to conceal his voice anymore.

“Dammit,” said Gordon, lowering his weapon. “I thought for sure it was this one.”

“You’re hearing things, man,” said Tye.

“I’m not.”

“Then how come I can’t hear it crying?” asked Tye.

“Because you blew your hearing with that ridiculous shotgun of yours,” said Gordon. “We’ll check the next one.”

“Leave it, man,” said Tye.

“We’ll check the next one,” Gordon repeated.

“Can we at least take a breather?”

Gordon looked around the room and then took a careful peek out the window. Then he nodded and headed to the kitchen to raid the cupboard. Tye sighed and took a knee. One more apartment, he told himself. Just one. Gordon had sworn he could hear a baby crying, and Tye had been willing to humor him for a while. But how many empty apartments would it take to convince Gordon that the sound was only in his head?

In a way, Tye was relieved that they kept coming up empty. How would the two of them take care of a baby in a world that had gone so to shit so thoroughly? It was a miracle that the two of them had stayed alive as long as they had.

“Break’s over,” said Gordon, walking into the bedroom with a slightly heavier backpack. “Let’s find her.”

“Oh, it’s a her now, is it?”

“You got a problem?” asked Gordon, his hand tightening around his grip.

“We can’t keep doing this,” said Tye.

“We’re not abandoning her,” said Gordon.

“Look, man. I don’t know what you’ve lost, and I ain’t judging you, but there’s no goddamn baby.”

“What if you’re wrong?”

“If I’m wrong, then I’m wrong,” said Tye. “It dies, or it becomes one of them. Either is better than the kind of childhood it would have with us. But if we keep this up, somebody’s going to hear us. We don’t have enough ammo to hold off a mob.”

“Then leave,” said Gordon, shrugging.

Tye started. “You wouldn’t last a day without me,” he said.

“I’m checking the next apartment,” said Gordon, heading for the door.

“Fuck!” said Tye, after a pause. “Why is this so important, man?”

“Because it is,” said Gordon, turning sharply, his gun dangerously close to being pointed at Tye.

“Because that’s what separates us from them.”

“The smart play is to leave it.”

“The human thing is to help who we can, to try and carve some kind of future out of all this. If you can’t understand that, then you and I are not fighting on the same side.”

For a moment they stared at each other.

“One more room,” said Tye. “Then I’m out of here. This is getting too dangerous.”

The two of them walked into the hallway and faced the entrance to the next apartment.

“Your turn,” Tye whispered.

Gordon raised his leg and thrust it into the door. The thin wood snapped out of the frame like cardboard. The survivors ducked into the room and swept for scavengers.

“Clear.”

Then Tye heard it. A muffled cry from the back bedroom.

Edited by Carolyn Abram

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