This is part four of the The Mission, my five-part prompt inspired story. I am using prompts on a writing-sharing site called Describli. It’s not a very large site at the moment, but I enjoy it, when I have the time.
Last part tomorrow. I’m excited. 😀 (And kind of nervous that a good ending won’t happen. Hm. Fingers crossed.)
Today’s prompt: Taking prisoners
A gentle breeze picked up. Lena pulled her scarf up over mouth. Dust danced in the wind.
Zinna stepped up to the tree. Drawler tensed. “Careful, darlin’. All sorts are talked of about this place.”
“Where is everyone?” Lena asked. The village seemed deserted.
“Hidin’. If you see anyone, well, just hope you don’t.”
“Why would they hide?”
“They know what’s good for them. When the train pulls in, no one ever gets off that wishes this place well.”
A tremor ran over her skin, a touch of ice beneath her heavy clothing. She was struck by the sensation that she was being watched.
Zinna knelt at the base of the tree, between two raised roots. “There’s evidence of a tunnel here,” she said. “An entrance, maybe.”
Lena approached and looked over her shoulder. She was right. The earth looked different there, not as worn down. “Time to get digging then.”
Drawler helped, reluctantly. Shifted earth revealed a stone tunnel leading into a dark space beneath the trunk of the tree. Ice touched Lena again, freezing the sweat on her body. “I really don’t want to go down there.”
“Then wait here,” Zinna said, the challenge in her eyes.
With eerie houses watching her? “Okay, let’s go. But we need a light.”
Drawler flicked an old-fashioned cigarette lighter on. “Covered.”
Zinna looked curious.
“I’ll explain later,” Lena said. “Let’s just get this over with.”
Drawler led the way down stone steps into cold, damp, darkness. Lena moved slowly, Zinna behind her.
Pools of water splashed beneath them, and the air took on a smell that turned her stomach. Then a glimmer of daylight ahead of them. Fresh air filtered in, and outside amongst flowers and small trees, Lena took in a deep breath of it. Better.
Drawler flicked off his light. It wasn’t needed. Moonlight lit the area. Time moved strange here.
Zinna walked forward, to stand in front of Drawler. “We’re close,” she said. She rolled her shoulders and muttered something under her breath.
Her wings again.
Drawler took a steady walk around, making a rough circle around them. “Here, pretty…” he murmured.
Something twinkled on the ground. It was right by a large pink flower. Lena knelt down and ran her fingers over the ground. A small, shining, pink stone caught them. She picked it up.
The flower lost its colour.
Several more large flowers were dotted around, all different colours. Lena went from one to the other, picking up small stones of the same colours and draining the flowers of theirs.
The moment the last one left the ground, Zinna inhaled sharply. “Okay, that just appeared. Like blinking. I swear.”
Lena turned and saw what she was staring at.
“Well, I’ll be,” Drawler said. His feet itched to move forward.
But there they were. Stalemate.
The gem danced in the moonlight. Clear and perfect like a fallen star. The plinth it rested on: stone, smooth, perfect.
“You remember the agreement?” Lena said.
“I remember. We both get what we want,” he said. But his voice, his body language, said something different. It said he had either forgotten or changed his mind. He wanted more. He wanted it all.
“Then I’m going to pick the gem up,” she said. “We’ll take it out of here, then fulfil our agreement. All right?”
He was on one side of her, Zinna on the other. Both were poised to move, to spring. Like rival cats hunting the same prey.
Lena moved forward, her heart hammering. Five steps. She was within reaching distance of the fallen star.
Hands grabbed at her. Rough. Male. They pulled her back.
A gun in Zinna’s hands. “Let her go.”
Something sharp touched Lena’s neck. Drawler: “Calm down, lil’ lady, or I spill your friend’s blood here all over.”
Lena didn’t doubt he would do it.
Zinna’s eyes narrowed. She was poised to shoot. “There’s nothing you can do with it without our help, remember? That’s the agreement. You get what you need, we get what we need. So let her go and we can part in peace.”
Lena felt the feral grin in his next words. “That’s the beauty of it. I can get what I need from it just fine. I just needed you to find it. Now your job’s done, I’m gonna take my prize.”
Zinna’s face froze over with anger. She pulled the trigger.
This story is related to my previous short story, and first attempt at sci-fi, Escape.