Deserving

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Status: In Progress  |  Genre: Thrillers  |  House: Booksie Classic

1914 Words

Two kids run through the busy streets of Invi. Adults shout at them as they pass by.

Zaura, a small dark girl is the faster of the two. Her black hair is long and matted, her clothes are tattered and worn. She’s covered in scratches and bruises. She dives through a group talking outside of a clothing store, shoving several people aside.

Cameron isn’t far behind. He’s wearing similar clothes to Zaura. He stops by the group to apologize several times before taking off after Zaura.

Zaura shouts over her shoulder at Cameron.

“Run Faster!” She shouts, nearly running into a pair of women.

The women shout obscenities at Zaura as she runs past. Cameron doesn’t bother apologizing to them.

Zaura makes a sharp turn into an alley, knocking over a trash can. Cameron jumps over the can, following behind her.

Zaura stumbles to a stop, startling a wild dog. The dog barks and takes off further into the alley.

Zaura leans against the wall as Cameron catches up with her. She pants, watching the nearby street.

“What time is it?” Cameron asks between heaves. “The train gets here at one!” He clutches his knees, trying to catch his breath.

“I don’t know!” Zaura shoots back. She wipes sweat off her brow. “Maybe they gave up,” She says. “Those guys aren’t gonna find us here, right?”

“Gave up? Yeah right!” Cameron punches a wall. “This is all your fault!”

Zaura squeezes her eyes shut. She sinks to the ground.

“What are we gonna do?” Zaura asks. “If that guy finds us he’s gonna cut off my hands, or worse!”

“Maybe I should let him!” Cameron snaps. “What did you do?” He runs a hand through his hair.

Zaura wipes her eyes, looking away from Cameron.

“I’m sorry,” She says sheepishly.

Cameron stares down at Zaura for a moment. They had been together for as long as he could remember. The two of them were raised in the same labor factory. That was the only home they’ve ever known.

“We can’t stop now,” Cameron said. He grabs Zaura’s shoulder. “Come on.”

“What do we do?” Zaura asks. “The news will spread. Anyone who sees us will report us!”

“We have to be fast,” Cameron said. “We just have to make it to the station. It's not that far, on the map it's just a few blocks away I think.”

“We’ll be seen!” Zaura throws up her hands. “The train isn’t even here yet!”

Cameron buries his face in his hands.

“I’m sorry,” Zaura said. “I’m so sorry.”

None of them speak for a moment.

Cameron hears Zaura whimper. He uncovers his face, giving her a tired look.

Zaura clutches her hair as if she’s trying to rip it from her head. She’s crying now.

“You told her, didn’t you?” Cameron asks.

Zaura raises her head, sniffling. She nods.

“God.”

“I thought she would…” Zaura trails off. “I thought she cared about me.”

“And she told the owner,” Cameron says. “And now we’re gonna die.”

“Not if you turn me in,” Zaura says. She straightens up, wiping her nose. Her face is red and her eyes are puffy. “Tell them that I made you help me. They’ll probably just punish me.”

It’s a long moment of silence.

Zaura shifts awkwardly on the dirt.

Cameron’s tired eyes turn to the street. Someone is shouting. Probably someone looking for them.

Zaura follows Cameron’s line of sight.

“I’m so tired,” Cameron says. “I don’t wanna work anymore.” He looks down at his scarred hands.

Zaura doesn’t speak. She just watches Cameron.

“Sometimes, I think I should be dead, you know?” Cameron’s hands are trembling now. “Like, I’m doing something wrong here.” Cameron’s voice cracks. A tear travels down his dirty cheek. “I spend so much time wanting things.” He looks out to the street again. “What those other kids have. Maybe I just don’t deserve it.”

Cameron’s crying now.

“Why?” He asks. “Why don’t I deserve it?” He digs his dirty fingernails into his palms.

The sound of a distant horn.

The sound almost doesn’t register to either of them. Zaura raises her head slightly, her eyes lighting up.

Cameron blinks, listening closely.

The horn blows again, this time louder. It’s the train.

Zaura jumps to her feet, her chest heaving. Her wide eyes stare down at Cameron. He stares back up at her.

“Y-you…” Zaura hesitates, her voice cracks. “You deserve it.”

Cameron blinks a few times, unsure what to do.

The train horn blows again.

“Come on!” Zaura yells. “Let's go!”

“Right!”

The two of them burst from the alley.

For a moment, Cameron’s blinded by the sunlight. He recognizes Zaura’s silhouette running in front of him.

Someone shouts nearby.

“Those kids!”

“Run!” Zaura yells.

Cameron’s eyes adjust in a few moments.

The two kids run hard, the sidewalk is clear up ahead.

A man yells after them, further back now.

A woman appears, grabbing Zaura.

“This is one of the kids!” The woman shouts. “I have her here!”

Zaura struggles violently. She bites the woman’s hand hard.

The woman screams, dropping Zaura.

“Run!” Cameron yells, pulling Zaura to her feet. Several people are closing in on them.

Zaura stumbles, starting to run.

Cameron doesn’t see the man’s arm before its hitting him in the face. He’s thrown backward into Zaura, knocking her down.

“Stay down!” The man yells, standing over them. He produces a rope, reaching down.

“No!” Cameron rolls away, pushing off the pavement.

Zaura jumps up, charging blindly into the man.

“Get off me!” The man yells, grabbing Zaura.

Cameron charges, tackling the man to the ground. Zaura kicks the man and the face and yanks Cameron away.

“Keep going!” She yells as the man gets up.

The two of them are running by the time the man’s back on his feet.

“Stop them!” The man yells.

Two men come running from a nearby bar.

“Leave us alone!” Zaura shouts.

Cameron and Zaura duck past the two men. One of the men trips trying to grab Zaura. The other man chases after them, quickly gaining ground.

They’re approaching an intersection. Several cars are backed up.

“Go right!” Cameron shouts.

The two of them round the corner, nearly getting run over by a man on a bike. The man behind them gets hit instead.

“We have to cross the road!” Cameron points out the train station on the other side of the street. Several people are on the platform loading onto the train.

“Run!” Zaura darts onto the street, pulling Cameron by his hand.

A car honks, screeching to a stop. Several more horns go off as the kids reach the divider in the center of the street. A semi-truck is approaching on the other side.

“Wait!” Cameron holds onto Zaura as the semi gets closer.

“Where are you two going?”

A familiar pick-up truck pulls up on the street, driving on the wrong side of the road. Several cars blow their horns at the truck. Someone shouts for them to get off the road. Several men pile out of the bed of the truck.

The owner of the labor factory, Pendleton Adams, steps out of the driver’s seat. He levels a rifle at Cameron.

“No!” Zaura screams. She yanks Cameron’s arm, pulling him onto the street.

“Wait!” Cameron yells. The semi blows its horn as the kids run in front of it.

The rifle goes off.

The moment seems to last forever.

Cameron is looking over his shoulder. The semi seems gigantic in the corner of his eye. He sees the other men hesitating to cross the street. The owner is aiming his rifle.

Zaura’s foot lands on the sidewalk. She yanks Cameron hard and he stumbles forward, falling onto the sidewalk.

The semi-truck speeds by, horn blaring.

The owner is shouting on the other side of the street. He aims his rifle again.

“No!” A girl screams.

A young girl, the same age as Cameron and Zaura, runs over to the owner.

“Please, daddy!” The girl cries. She grabs onto his arm, pulling hard. The other men start crossing the street.

“Mindy?” Zaura pauses, staring.

Cameron pushes off the pavement, starting onto the grass.

“Come on, Zaura!” Cameron shouts. He grabs her arm, pulling her along.

“Mindy!” Zaura calls out.

“I’m sorry!” Mindy yells. The owner swings his rifle, hitting Mindy in the face with the butt. The girl falls to the ground.

“Mindy!” Zaura screams. She pulls away from Cameron.

Cameron isn’t looking when it happens. He doesn’t see the fire flickering along Zaura’s body. He feels a sudden heat against his back.

Then the street is engulfed in flames.

Cameron and Zaura are thrown off their feet by the blast.

Cameron’s ears are ringing. Several car alarms are going off. Someone’s screaming. His vision is blurred.

Zaura is lying still on her back. Her body is steaming.

Cameron sits up, unsteady. His head is swimming. He sees several men lying about on the street. Some of them are on fire.

The owner is lying on top of a nearby car. He isn’t moving. Mindy is on the other side of the street, facedown. Her body is smoking, she isn’t moving either.

The train horn blows.

“We have to go,” Cameron says weakly. He manages to get up. Zaura is a small girl, but Cameron still struggles to drag her toward the train station. He manages to heave her onto his back, awkwardly carrying her.

The station is empty now. Steam blows from the locomotive.

“Come on,” Cameron grunts.

The train is starting to move.

“Please!”

For a horrible moment, Cameron considers leaving Zaura. Running for the train by himself. His legs are burning. His throat is dry. His arms are trembling.

The caboose of the train is passing as Cameron reaches the tracks. He drops onto the tracks, hobbling after the train. He grabs onto the railing and somehow manages to yank himself and Zaura into the steps.

Cameron slowly and painfully climbs the steps, half leaning on the railing. He sets Zaura down on the small floor, breathing heavily.

The small town of Invi slowly starts to grow smaller as the train speeds up. It's nowhere to be seen when Zaura wakes up.

Cameron’s in some half-awake state as Zaura sits up. She gasps, grabbing onto the railing.

The sun is low in the sky. The train is passing through some plains.

“What happened?” Zaura asks. “We made it?”

“Fire,” Cameron says. “You made fire.”

Zaura looks at her hand.

“I’m blessed?”

None of them speak for a moment.

“Mindy’s okay,” Cameron says all of sudden. “You burned some of the grown-ups though, the owner was really messed up,” He adds with a chuckle. “But Mindy was okay.” He doesn’t think about Mindy’s still body.

“How did we get on the train?” Zaura asked. She leans against the railing, wincing. “Did I pass out?”

“Yeah,” Cameron said. “Then…” He hesitates. “Mindy helped me get you on here. She wanted you to know that she was sorry that her dad found out. She didn’t mean to tell him.”

Zaura’s eyes fill with tears.

“Oh, Mindy,” She sobs.

Cameron stares at the sun as it starts to set.

“Maybe we’ll see her again someday,” Zaura says, perking up. She grips the railing, pulling herself to her feet.

“Be careful,” Cameron warns.

“Look at this!” Zaura gestures to the plains surrounding the tracks. Her hair flips around in the wind, hitting her in the face. Zaura laughs, pushing her hair away. “We can do anything!” she turns to Cameron. 

Cameron smiles up at Zaura. 

“Yeah, we're free."

The two of them watch the world blur by.

 


Submitted: May 18, 2022

© Copyright 2022 Matthew Hair. All rights reserved.

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Comments

Archia

I really quite enjoyed your story. It was very fast-paced and full of action. Most of all the end was great. There were a lot of different little things that happened that didn't get explained- like what Zaura did, or what it means that she's blessed, and I kind of wanted to know more about that but I also didn't mind that it didn't go into more detail. The end of your story was really well done, and it was very emotional and satisfying in that sense, that by the time I got there I didn't care anymore about knowing the other little things.
A lot of your sentences are quite short. I think it can be very effective sometimes, and has a lot of impact, however however they're all like that it can feel a little overused.
As I mentioned before the end was all so well done. I think it was great to add the lie Cameron told Zaura about Mindy; there's such a sadness to it, especially since Zaura will never find out. Finding out that Mindy was the one that dobbed then in also added another layer to it. It was very emotional and really well done.
All in all, the story and plot behind this is really interesting and the end brought it all together.

Fri, June 10th, 2022 5:57am

Author
Reply

Thanks, Archia. I appreciate your thoughts. I actually cut a few things from the story because I wanted to limit myself to 2000 words or less.
It was mostly the scene on the street with the fire and a few extra lines from the other adults who try to stop the kids.
I considered leaving the explanation about Zauras blessing it but I felt it was too wordy and would've slowed the pace.
I could probably find a way to incorporate it into the final train scene if I ever rewrite this story.

I wanna say thanks again, I feel I'm always thanking you haha. Your contests are always good fun and they give plenty of opportunity for development and creativity. This website is lucky to have you. :)

Sat, June 11th, 2022 8:53pm

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