It needs editing and I shouldn't even put it up, but I like the idea and thought I'd share. It's got promise. :) The prompt for this one (as always) is the beginning. Specifically, "I saw four men on horseback" (I added the quotes in mine - it didn't have to be dialog.) and the idea of an apocalypse/end of the world that someone survives...or, at least, that's how I read it. The apocalypse idea is just his thought on the prompt, the only requirement is the beginning words. I like this contest because it's the longest one. I get 500 words to play with! Shockingly, I only used 387. (I was obviously half-asleep!)
“I saw four men on horseback.” I stammered as I passed through the gate, panting.
The guard on duty – Jerod – looked at me as though I’d taken a leak on his foot.
“Seriously. They were coming over the hill from the west…” I pointed back the way I’d come.
“Son, ya’ don’ even know what a’horse looks like. I’m sure it was jus’-”
“No! They were horses! I’ve seen pictures!” I had, too. One of the books in the nursery had a picture of a horse in it.
“I’m sure ya’ have.” He looked back the way I’d come. “West ya’ say? Well, sun’s settin’, in’it? Sometimes those shadows look a bit odd…”
“There’s nothing on that hill to cast a shadow! Nothing! They were there.” I could feel the heat in my eyes and I blinked furiously. It wouldn’t do no good to waste water. I bit my lip. Now this was a pickle! “I know sometimes I make out like I seen things when I didn’t. But this time, I really did!”
“That’s what ya’ say every time, Marcum. Now, it’s not as though I don’ believe ya’, exactly. Perhaps you did see something, but it weren’t no men on horseback. There ain’t nothin’ out there. Not no more.” Jarod scuffed his foot in the dirt and took a deep breath, but let it out without saying what was on his mind. He jerked his head toward home, “Get yourself home. Your Momma’s probably worried sick over ya’.”
I hung my head and tramped off down the path, kicking rocks as I went. Stupid. This whole place was stupid. We were just waiting to die. Food and water were scarce, everybody sick with something – any moment we were gonna be toast.
That’s why Papa left. He was gonna find some others – bring back help. Something must’a happened. He’d been gone two years now. I kept scouting to see if I could find some trace of him. I felt like I could hear him call my name sometimes.
I did hear him.
I turned back the way I’d come. Four men on horseback. Papa!
I ran. Papa practically jumped off that great big creature – bigger than I could’ve imagined – and held his arm out to me.
He was home.
We were gonna make it.