May 15

Cold-blooded Murder

May held the gun to June’s head. An itch deep beneath her skin begged her to pull the trigger, to end it right here and now. But she had to do it right or it would all be for nothing. “Any last words?” She smirked.

“You’ll never get away with this,” June said. He was stoic—strangely confident for someone with a gun to their head. Did he know something May didn’t? She doubted herself for the shortest moment in time. Sweat dripped across her brow and she wiped it away. She clenched her teeth, determined.

“Watch me.” May pulled the trigger. She’d won and there was nothing he could do about it.

She looked June dead in the eye. The seconds ticked past. Seconds turned into minutes, and she was sure those minutes turned into hours.

She waited, and when nothing happened, she said, “June, I shot you! Play fair!”

“Yeah, but my magic cape makes me immune to bullets.” He flourished his bright-red cape as if that somehow absolved him of cheating.

May bonked him on the head with the butt of the gun. “I’m not gonna play with you if you’re gonna cheat!”

June rubbed his head. His sniffled, his eyes puffy and red. Then he said the two worst words May had ever heard: “I’m telling.”

“No no no no no no!” May cried. “I’m sorry! I didn’t mean it!”

The word started like a lowing—as if June were a cow—and it built into a high-pitched scream. “Moooooom!” He jumped to his feet, his head cradled between both hands.

May threw herself at him, her arms wrapped around his torso, and tackled him to the ground. He flailed and kicked and wiggled his way free. May grasped his cape and he shrugged out of it. He burst into a run, far out of her reach.

“It was an accident!” May ran after him. “You can have the gun now, June! Please! Don’t tell mom!” I’m gonna be in so much trouble! she thought. Desperate to stop him at any cost, she threw the gun at him and struck him in the back of the leg.

He let out a ghastly wail, though May knew it didn’t hurt that bad.

“What are you two doing?!”

Oh no. May froze, her eyes wide with fear. The primal terror filled her up, rooting her to the spot like a statue.

Mom was coming.

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Prompt #1: Kill a character

August 23

Sticks and Stones

Once, not that long ago, the nomads had thrived. Food—both grown and animal—had been abundant. One of the hunters, Bheka’s eldest brother, had managed to make alcohol from the potatoes. They celebrated the birth of little Lwazi who would grow up to be the most prolific hunter of them all. His dad had been the best Bheka had ever seen. She missed the days when she followed him around with a new sense of wonder for the world.

That wonder was gone, along with all the hunters. Every hunter except herself and little Lwazi. He’d grown now. Twenty years had passed since they last told stories around the fire of what they hoped his life would be like.

Bheka led Lwazi through the plains as she often did. She kept ahead of him, but still aware of his position. He tapped her on the shoulder and pointed off to the side. He hadn’t always been mute, though she couldn’t blame him for it after everything he’d been through. She pulled her bow off her shoulder and nocked an arrow. Then she turned toward where he pointed. Her shoulder slumped when she saw the giant, stone elephant.

“Another one?” she said. Lwazi nodded and frowned. “We can’t eat stone,” she told him. “Let’s call it a day. It’s late and I’m tired.”

Back at camp, Sizani greeted them. There had been a time when she doled out medicine and tended to wounds, but Bheka had no need for a medicine woman. She only needed Sizani, her friend.

“Empty-handed again?” Sizani asked.

Bheka nodded. She gestured for Lwazi to enter the tent. “I don’t know what to do,” she said as soon as she was alone with Sizani.

Sizani stoked a fire. Above it sat a black pot, though Bheka was sure there wouldn’t be anything of substance inside. “Still no sprouts, either. Another night of broth for supper,” Sizani said. She scooped up a bowl-full of the liquid and handed it to Bheka.

“It’s spread here, too. We’ll have to move on,” Bheka said between sips of her broth. Her stomach growled, begging her for something more. There wasn’t any.

“Where to?”

“I hear the north hasn’t seen it yet. The cold keeps it out.” The tribe had never been north, not that far, anyway. Mountains and blizzards had never appealed to Bheka. Her gaze wandered over to the tent. We don’t have a choice, she thought. Not as long as she wanted to keep Lwazi safe.

Sizani smiled. “North it is, then.”

Prompt Image Courtesy of @RosettaYorke

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