From 4/10 word wars
She glanced outside and saw that Sam had gravitated downward. Toward the valley. Moving herself to the opening, the sun touched her skin lightly, just enough to warm. A luxury she rarely felt.
“Are you going out?” asked the small voice behind her. A tentative question. As if in fear of the response.
She shook her head. “I don’t think so. Maybe tomorrow. I’m too tired. We haven’t had enough food lately, so I think that has something to do with our energy levels.”
She felt rather than saw the shaking of the head. Agreement. They all knew the food shortage was wearing them down. Sam was a dreamer. He refused to give in, hence his excursion into the great outdoors.
Watching him make his way down the mountain, she could not help but smile. He had come to them two years previous. Hoping to be brought into the group. Looking for salvation. Needing a remedy for what he thought ailed him.
They had given him that and so much more. A different way. A way to cast off the chains of modern society. To be forgiven for his time in the dregs. But they had also taken. Everything he had and more. They had taken his backpack, the few resources he had, whatever life he had left is what they had demanded. The vow.
That’s why he was going down there now. If any way possible, he would find something–anything–for them to eat. He would find something in which they could sustain themselves.
He had made it down to the crevice and it looked as if he was moving a bit faster. Shanda glanced behind her to the three pair of eyes watching behind her. “He’s in the crevice. I think he’s going to make it.”
Moving closer to the opening, she let the sun kiss her shoulders now. God, it felt so good. That warmth. She kept her eyes cast downward, not wanting to suffer the sting of the light. It was hard enough, she didn’t want to make it worse.
The thought of moving back into the recesses of the cave caused her some mental discomfort. As long as she had been here, she still felt the trees and the valley were more accommodating to humans; though the cave had kept them safe. From prying eyes, predators, the unnatural elements that now roamed the Earth. Shaking herself mentally, she turned her attention back to Sam’s progress, but did not spot him immediately.
Oh god. Please let him be okay, she thought. Then a brief glimpse of something moving through the rock caught her attention. She breathed a sigh of relief. He seemed to have picked up his pace and was nearly scampering across the lower rock face of the mountain.
Like a goat, he is. To be able to run again, she thought. To feel the wind in her face. against her skin. That would be something.
The groaning in her stomach reminded her of the days she had not eaten. She was so hungry. Even her dreams were filled with the longing for anything edible. Sometimes she dreamed of finding wild dock and dandelion root. Other times, she ran across a family of gray squirrels, raided their niche of acorns and then killed them all for a bountiful feast.
Hunger was something they had experienced often over the past year. Dwindling wildlife, a ruined landscape. Humans were just a casualty of a dying world. Or that’s what Dag had told them. That civilization had fallen apart. Life was barely holding on.
Sam had traversed the crevice and she could barely make out his figure at the bottom of the mountain. He had made it. “Well, that’s something.”
“What?” someone growled behind her. “What has happened?”
“He’s made it to the bottom,” she answered, smiling. A fluttering in her stomach caused her to take a deeper breath. “Maybe he will come back with something.”
“Maybe he won’t,” responded the growl. “Perhaps he won’t come back at all.” The voice had moved closer behind her and she didn’t bother to glance back. She didn’t want to know how close he was, though she had a good idea.
“You know what it means if he doesn’t come back.”
Shanda nodded absently. “Not that it matters much at this point.”
She heard him move toward the back of the cave. Dag had gone back to his spot, but not before he reminded her of her own vow. Needed to let them all know who was still in charge.
She pulled herself out further and looked past the overhang to the rocks below. Let him come back. Let him have something in the bag for us. Let us feast tonight.
But she knew that no matter how much Sam came back with, they would not feast. They would try to save it for another day. They would ration. Just as they had from the beginning of this.