Stray Embers (Introduction)

Posted: January 10, 2018 in Stories, Uncategorized
Tags: , ,

Frankie sat on the bed in the dark. Her left hand softly stroking the top of Maeve’s head as Maeve pretended not to notice until her fingers stopped, then she pushed her head back against Frankie’s fingers to get them to keep stroking again. To Maeve, this proved her genius as a canine, for she believed that not even Frankie realized what was happening and had no control over her left hand when she manipulated the auto pet function so perfectly.

As if reading her mind Frankie’s fingers froze against her scalp. Fearing she had just been caught by a psychic human Maeve tilted her head back and looked right at Frankie, tongue hanging out of one side of her mouth as cute as she could manage.

Frankie wasn’t looking at Maeve, nor was she looking at the cell phone in her right hand that she had been messing with for the last hour. Instead, her gaze was trained on something outside the window in the distance.

From the second floor bedroom, Frankie had a good view of the houses on the other side of the street. She thought she had seen something move from one house to the next. Still staring into the night she killed the light from the cell phone and placed it face down on the bed. Across the street, she saw two figures dart out from the shadows of a house and across the street in her direction.
“Shit.” Frankie softly cursed herself for spending so much time messing with the phone in the dark. The light from the screen was faint, but in this powerless world, any light was a beacon to those up to no good.

Maeve silently got off the bed as Frankie slid to the edge and grabbed her jeans. As Frankie slipped her feet into the pants and pulled them on, Maeve moved towards the doorway of the bedroom silently but stopped before she got to the doorway. She tilted her head to listen to the darkness downstairs.

Earlier when Frankie and Maeve had found the house, they had cleared it and left all doors inside the home open so no one could hide within or sneak in unheard. Frankie joined Maeve and placed her left hand on Maeve’s back. The hair on her back was down and for a second Frankie let a little hope take shape that they were going to move on to the next house. That hope died the moment she heard them rattle the doorknob.

The hair on Maeve’s back rose under Frankie’s fingers but she didn’t bark. Frankie ran a hand over her reassuringly and they both waited. The only other exit was the back door, but the stairs ran right next to the front door and it wasn’t worth taking the chance of being caught from behind if they tried to run for it.

Frankie stepped back slightly and Maeve shadowed her movement. They both jumped a little when the glass shattered downstairs. Maeve started to move forward but Frankie snapped her fingers and Maeve stopped, stepping back beside her once again.

They listened as someone unlocked the door and opened it. Whispering filtered up to them from the stairs, “It was a girl, a blonde, I swear to God.”
“I get her first. You had that old bitch last week.”

Frankie exhaled a breath she didn’t realize she was holding with a little annoyance, a little anger. In the dark Maeve looked up at her, waiting for a command.

“No,” Frankie told her. From downstairs the whispers immediately stopped but she could hear them moving towards the stairway. She stepped out to the head of the stairs and waited for them. From below, they looked like two silhouettes in the dark. The moment they saw her, Frankie let out a little yelp and jumped back into the bedroom.

She snapped once and Maeve moved to her side as Frankie slammed the bedroom door and snatched the shotgun up that was leaning against the wall beside the door. She could hear them scrambling up the stairs now, close to the top. They were coming in a hurry. Perfect, she thought.

She raised the shotgun to her shoulder, flicked off the safety and held the barrel about navel level, ready to swing it up when her target presented itself. As the two reached the door she took one step left to plant her feet in a firing stance, left leg slightly ahead of the right, shoulder length apart.

When the first guy burst through the door she leaned into the weapon and raised the barrel in one smooth motion as her finger squeezed the trigger. He never knew what hit him and the buckshot lifted him off his feet and tossed him sideways against the door he was still in the process of throwing open. Frankie didn’t wait to see him land, she racked another round into the shotgun as she pivoted on her left leg and brought the barrel around to the second guy who was trying to stop his forward momentum. He didn’t have enough time. The roar of the shotgun lit up the room a second time and his face melted along with part of his skull as it painted the hallway behind him.

Frankie looked back at Maeve who was simply watching the first guy. She chambered another round in the shotgun and then moved to the first guy who was wheezing badly and gurgling. Frankie removed the knife from her belt and punched it into the side of his neck before twisting it and removing it in three swift moves. Within seconds he was dead.

Frankie cleaned the blade off on his clothes and sheathed it before engaging the safety of the shotgun and sighing.

“I’m not blonde,” she told Maeve. “Guess we have to find a new place to sleep tonight.”

Maeve whined knowingly as Frankie gathered her backpack and jacket. She also retrieved the cell phone and tossed it in one of the pockets. After she shrugged into the bag she pulled the bedding off of the bed and sort of spread it across the doorway and hallway that was glistening with blood and pieces of skull.

There were a lot of things her 17-year-old self had to learn in the short time she has been alive, but listening to her dog lick someone else’s blood off of her paws was something she only had to hear once. It wouldn’t happen again if she could help it.

Frankie and Maeve stood in the living room, listening to the night outside the open front door. When they both felt it was safe they left the house and made their way out into the dark night, sticking to shadows as much as they could.

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