Another week, another flash fiction competition entry that didn’t win, most likely because it reads more as a fraction of a larger work than a story in it’s own right. In my defense, 500 words isn’t very much room to create a complete story, but I’ve managed far better before, and I do think it’s something I should work on. That being said–enjoy!
Jingling zippers and thudding boots from the patrol only just drowned out the roar of blood in my ears. I huddled in the storm drain with the rest of the group, steered there by the guide we all relied on to help us flee the city. I was the last of my family to leave. If I didn’t make it out, they’d never know what happened to me.
“Be ready to move.” The woman leading our little group couldn’t have been older than thirty, everyone old or wealthy enough to leave had already done so, the city now belonged to collaborators and desperate youth.
She hadn’t introduced herself, but I’d privately named her Nia, after the revolutionary leader in the comics my father used to sneak home for my brother and I to read at night. Alek would have loved this, sneaking around avoiding the military like the highest possible stakes game of hide and seek.
Nia left and we followed, her form almost blending into the shadows, making me nervous that we’d run afoul of curfew. The once vibrant city I’d grown up in was now deserted long before the sun went down, and patrols roamed the streets day and night. Even those who cooperated were not always safe from the military.
Alek hadn’t run, he’d simply disappeared from the university campus one night without a word. We’d fought for answers, fought to know what had happened—eventually we fought only to get his body back. Official responses ranged from indifferent to hostile, and eventually my parents left both the city and the mystery of their eldest son’s disappearance behind.
Our feet crunched over broken glass and debris as we made our way west towards the docks. We’d have to fly, eventually, but we’d leave the city by boat.
My parents had been reluctant to leave me alone, but I’d convinced them they would get asylum easier as a professional couple with no dependants. I’d graduated high school at the exact wrong time. If I’d known what high achievement could have gotten me, perhaps I’d have tried harder in school.
I thought of Alek’s face, staring at me from missing posters surrounding the university campus. Then again, perhaps not.
A beat-up commercial fishing liner was waiting, the briny smell of the ocean enough to make me grin. Nia began ushering us onboard and below decks, when one of the men in our group shouted suddenly for the patrols.
She pushed him to the ground, but not before he’d drawn attention from the shore. A teenage girl not much younger than me tried to run, but was caught. Those who had already made it on board cried out in fear. Nia caught my eye as she swung aboard in one smooth movement. I saw my chance at freedom about to leave—the only opportunity I would have to re-join my family and carry on the fight. There was no mercy in the faceless patrol approaching.