Between the Lines
Today, I’ve written a bit of flash fiction based on a photo prompt supplied by author Joan Hall over on Story Empire. The link to the post is: https://storyempire.com/2018/01/05/friday-fiction-prompt/
And here is the picture…
Now for my little tale …
Between the Lines
In the soft early evening glow, the sun glinted dully from the train tracks. Emma shuddered from more than just the chill in the air, wishing that her flaming red hair offered actual heat rather than limiting itself to wild and vivid colour.
Over and over, her terrified teenaged brain chanted Don’t step on the cracks or you’ll break your mamma’s back. Eventually, after about three miles, the words developed a regular cadence that took on lullaby qualities and helped to soothe her frayed nerves.
If she concentrated hard enough, she could almost—almost but not quite—forget the hooded stranger who walked behind her, gun in hand and aimed at her back. She swore her spine tingled in the exact spot the bullet would rip into if he fired.
On her left, a rotting wooden post held a signal sign in the shape of a V. Despite her mortal fear and fatigue, Emma snorted when her brain supplied V for Victory. If only.
What could have possessed her to take part in this stupid but deadly game? At the time, ten miles hadn’t seemed that long, not really. The devil lay in the detail, though. Once you stepped onto that narrow iron rail …
Don’t step on the cracks or you’ll break your mamma’s back …
Of course, it wasn’t cracks she had to worry about but tracks. Or, more to the point, the innocuous-looking wooden sleepers which lay between the cruel cold metal rails.
The very moment she lost her balance, she would lose her life. The deal dictated that she walk ten miles without pause or rest or setting foot on anything but that narrow never ending rail track. As thick across as her sneakered foot, it had seemed plenty wide enough. Easy money.
Then you mount the metal. Take that first step. Feel your body stiffen in sudden unwelcome fear. And all at once, your job becomes that much harder.
Fear is not your friend. And you cannot force relaxation … what an oxymoron.
The thing was, the food stamps were never enough. The thing was, no one in her family had earned enough credits for medical care. The thing was, she hadn’t had a choice. Well, certainly, you always have a choice, just that sometimes it won’t ever come out clean no matter what you try.
So, here she was, playing some stupid game, alone except for the TV Cam drone and the erstwhile gunman.
Only seven more miles to go.
Soon, it would grow dark.
They had prohibited any aids, including flashlights.
What would she do when she could no longer see where to put her feet? How far could she reasonably expect to get? The faint light from the drone camera wouldn’t offer any help.
A distant horn yanked Emma from her thoughts. She stumbled. Righted herself.
Beneath her aching feet, the track vibrated.
I hope you enjoyed this bit of flash fiction and would love to know what you think!
Please do check out the other contributions by popping on over to the Story Empire blog.
Here’s the link again: https://storyempire.com/2018/01/05/friday-fiction-prompt/