The fire was warm, but it couldn’t completely eliminate the chill I felt. It wasn’t caused by any change of temperature and, therefore, heat could do nothing to remove it. I ate the piece of cured meat in my hand without conscious thought. My mind was occupied replaying the events that occurred not more than an hour ago.
I could hear Todd’s voice faintly. It couldn’t fully penetrate the haze that surrounded me. It was his touch that caused me to jump back and ready my weapon to defend myself.
“It’s okay, Lee. It’s just me…it’s just me,” he soothed. My muscles relaxed and I focused on his face. Covered in dirt and paint, he managed a small smile. “You always did have the quickest reflexes.”
“Not me. My brother is the fastest…was the fastest,” I corrected myself.
“Don’t talk like that. He’s still out there somewhere.”
“You believe that?”
“I have to,” Todd replied. He looked at the other two with us. They looked like they were sleeping, but we knew better. None of us could really sleep lately. “We’ll meet up with him when we get to the safe zone.”
I wanted to believe him, but I couldn’t find any hope left for my brother. As much as I wanted to believe, I couldn’t. Nothing, not even hope, was allowed to take root. These were not the times to allow emotions to roam freely. Logic and strategy were what kept us alive. Emotions got people killed.
I laid down and tried to get some of the same excuse for sleep the other two were getting. With Todd on the first watch, I could actually allow my brain to shut down for a few minutes.
Morning came quickly and we set out for the safe zone. Will and I planned the route, but it wasn’t an easy one. These days the roads were not safe and traveling along their route could mean one’s journey would end quicker than he intended.
Will and I explained the route to Todd and Jay. It was important for everyone to know the plan for the day. That way if anything happened, we’d rendezvous at the destination point.
Jay didn’t like the route that we’d selected. I could see the way he frowned as Will described it. Of course, Jay pointed out an area that was going to be difficult to cross. He thought pointing it out would be enough to cause us to change our minds, but Will and I had already considered the possibilities and the route we chose was the best one.
“Are you sure this will work?” Jay questioned.
“Yes,” Will and I chorused.
“If that’s what they planned for today, that’s the way we go,” Todd stated.
Jay stood up to his full height, looked at each of us, and shook his head. He was the most defiant of Todd’s leadership, but he wasn’t stupid enough to physically challenge him.
“Let’s go,” Todd ordered and took the first steps of our journey of the day.
If everything went as planned, we’d reach the safe zone in two weeks. But last night showed us, everything would not go as planned.
I said a quick prayer to whatever deity would listen and followed Todd. Jay’s question was valid, but he knew like everyone else that none of us were sure that anything would work. We just kept moving and never looked back.
by Angelique Grey
notes: using Writeworld’s prompt “Are you sure this will work?”, this is what I came up with.