Their Days Are Numbered is a new year-long project authored by the collective Entropy community. It is a collaborative online novel written by the Entropy community on a weekly basis. A different author will write the next “chapter” each week, to be posted every Tuesday, following the previous post from the previous week, and following a very limited set of guidelines (that each author has one week to write the next piece after the previous week’s installment goes up, that installments should range between 150-1500 words, and that pieces should somehow incorporate a real-life occurrence, current event, news item, or other happening from that week).
Follow the entire “novel” here: Their Days Are Numbered.
The thirty-seventh installment is presented this week by Darby Larson.
Into the red north, aglow against a moonlit desert, until she began to veer west toward a lone structure, scant trees and someone under one. She paused to pull the rifle from her pack.The area came into focus. The stranger she saw hung dead from a tree near a house. She stopped, arms limp, then gripped the rifle tight. She moved forward keeping it aimed.
Closer now. She could see the hanging body was a woman’s, unclothed, very thin. She walked closer and whispered “god” and stopped again and studied the woman’s face. Younger than herself. Not by much.
There was movement in the house. She turned around, rifle pointed, but all was quiet again. The house was plain, a one-room shack, thatched, no windows. She watched the closed door.
Time passed while she waited for another stir. She sat down against the tree, rifle pointed lazily at the house. Fatigue. The movement she heard seemed years ago. Probably a mouse. A slight wind creaked the branch the woman’s noose was tied to. She looked at her dangling feet and pushed thoughts away.
She woke to a distant gunshot. Everything still lit by moon. She stood and looked at the house again, at the woman. There were trackers to the south, half a mile moving closer. She said “fuck” and gathered her pack and walked quickly toward the door and kicked it in and poked the rifle around the room. A cot and blanket and nothing else.
She picked up her pace until she found a hill she could get behind. Dawn broke and she could see the house in flames, shadows moving around it. She turned and kept northward toward the other.