Scavenger

Blue lights.

They sparkled in the distance, much closer now, forming a beacon to lead him home.

Days.

How long since he’d awoken alone, his mother nowhere to be found? Three? Five? Afraid to sleep he’d only snatched naps along the way, distorting all sense of time.

Thirst.

It clawed at his throat, stealing the remains of his voice after his shouts for help went answered.

Silence.

The world was still, as if everything alive slept in unison.

The ground was still warm from the day’s sun as his sneakers slapped the pavement, the radiating heat flushing his face.

He traveled at night now, the only way to be certain he walked in the right direction. It was scarier to sleep in the black.

He squinted, a shape rising as he crested a hill.

Another vehicle.

His steps slowed as he approached.

The driver’s door hung open, just like the others. The sliver of moon lit its interior just enough to see nobody sat inside. He raced the rest of the way, crawling inside, fumbling for anything left behind. Excitement exploded as he discovered the rim of a cup, resting in its holder. He sniffed the contents, grimacing.

Coffee.

With only the slightest hesitation he choked down the liquid, the bitterness less noticeable than the first time.

Then, he’d spit it out and dumped the contents.

He knew better now.

The cup emptied, he continued his search.

Wrappers. Papers. Tissues. Coins.

Something sticky.

He wiped his hand on the seat, disgusted, and opened the glove box.

Two wrapped rectangles hid within. He ripped the wrapper, shoving a third of the bar into his mouth.

A granola bar. With chocolate.

The first vanished and the second followed, his hunger overriding any inclination to savor or save.

More. He wanted more.

He pawed through the glove box again, hoping.

Nothing.

He rolled to the floor, reaching beneath the seats.

Sticky, unidentifiable things greeted him, and he moved to the back seat instead, his head brushing against something.

A car seat.

He fingered the creases, remembering when his sister was small and how his father complained about the mess.

He smiled, finding tiny circles lining the padding, and popped them into his mouth.

Cheerios never tasted so wonderful.

A stuffed animal rested forgotten on the floor: a teddy bear.

He hugged it for a moment, knowing he was too old for such a thing, but finding comfort in the softness.

He placed it on the car seat before sliding into the front once again.

He pushed his fingers against the dashboard, trying to find the magic button for opening the trunk. Keys jangled as he brushed against them.

Keys!

He struggled to release them from the ignition, then hurried to the back of the car. Choosing the largest key on the ring, he inserted it into the lock and twisted.

The latch clicked and the trunk yawned wide.

He slowed his movements, the memory of cutting his finger in another trunk still fresh.

Metal. Cloth, soft.

A tiny blanket.

He pulled it free and tossed it to the ground.

He crawled into the trunk, reaching for the back where the light couldn’t penetrate, pulling the contents to the front.

A ball. A diaper. A package of baby wipes. Clothes too small for him.

Nothing useful.

He returned to the ground and pulled off his backpack, shoving the blanket inside, joining a dead iPod, cell phone, and his baseball cap.

He faced the city, his steps lighter than before, focusing on the last thing his mother had told him.

“You are so strong. I love you.”

*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*

A Red Dress Club writing prompt

Our guest hosts this week are CDG and Yuliya.

Here’s the Red Writing Hood prompt that they are challenging you with:

The most frequent advice I come across for amateur writers is, “Write what you know.”

“What you know” doesn’t necessarily always mean “your comfort zone.” For this week, take what you know out of your comfort zone. Try a new genre, a new time period, a geography you’ve only dreamed of, fantasy or historical instead of contemporary fiction, try the male POV if you usually write women. Or vice versa.

Switch it up. See where it takes you.

* * *

Sorry if you were hoping for Mav and John. The very nature of this prompt meant trying new characters. I think I might write something for them too…

Concrit is welcomed as always.

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About Kelly K @ Dances with Chaos

Kelly K has learned the five steps to surviving of motherhood: 1) Don't get mad. Grab your camera. 2) Take a photograph. 3) Blog about it. 4) Laugh. 5) Repeat. She shares these tales at Dances with Chaos in order to preserve what tiny amount of sanity remains. You can also find her on her sister blog, Writing with Chaos (www.writingwithchaos.com) sharing memoir and engaging in her true love: fiction writing. It's cheaper than therapy.
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12 Responses to Scavenger

  1. Carrie says:

    I enjoyed this tale of the nameless boy, trying to survive. You did a great job enticing the reader to keep going, wondering what might happen. I know I though something was going to jump out of the darkness and get him!

  2. Ilana says:

    I really love this but I want to know more! What happened? Why is he alone? Why did his mother leave him? What is he hoping to find in the city? I only ask because i have a feeling you will go back to John and Mav the next prompt and I will never know.

    But a completely engrossing read from start to finish. And I loved the gradual reveal that it was a young boy and not a man.

    I also love the line about walking at night because it was the only way he could tell the right direction and the imagery of the trunk yawning.

  3. Very creepy. Very enjoyable. I was also expecting something or someone to grab him, or slam him in the trunk when he climbed in. I was prepared for zombies or the apocalypse. Awesome suspense.

    I took on Steampunk this week.

  4. angela says:

    Please get your scavenger out of my car 🙂

    Really choppy and desperate in such a good way. He seems so animalistic, and I am so interested to know why he’s away from home and what he’s doing. Since there is a “right direction” for him to walk, he must have an end destination in mind (or just as far away from where he’s come?)

  5. Jennifer says:

    This was very “The Road.” I got the sense that this was a child, and a not very old one at that which made for an interesting tension because I both wanted him to find someone, so that he wouldn’t be alone and was equally if not more terrified that he would find someone and they would harm him.

    I loved this line; ‘The world was still, as if everything alive slept in unison.’

  6. Yuliya says:

    Great job reaching out of that comfort zone. The only part that confused me was this, “Then, he’d spit it out and dumped the contents.”

  7. CDG says:

    You are so good at raising questions, introducing options. The scavenger sense here is very real–but I did giggle at the car with the granola bars and the cheerios stuck between the seats.

    Kid’s been in my minivan, apparently.

    But then? What happened to the family who abandoned the vehicle…

  8. Kelly says:

    I read this yesterday and could not wait to come back and read it AGAIN! You are a master at suspense, no matter what you write!

    I loved the digging through the car, appetite not satisfied, the sadness of finding the stuffed bear and missing of his sister….I want to know what happened? Where is every one??

    Well done. I like this story.

  9. julie moore says:

    I also liked this story and know this little boy has a great, suspenseful tale to unfold for us. Hope you keep going with it.

  10. Jackie says:

    This was interesting… I’m a little confused if it’s a little boy or an older one and if it was him that was driving or someone else.
    I’d like to see where this goes!!

  11. Renee says:

    This is so good. Your writing is awesome. I kept reading faster.
    Now I need answers. To all the questions.

  12. Frelle says:

    this was amazing, enthralling, so vivid, and desperate. I want to know so much more about this story!

Comments are closed.