Annie and the End of the World 6

Annie was glad to be back in the woods. They had left the kids a while back now. Arthur had not wanted to go. He had a maternal streak it seemed. She had teased him about it until he got mad and apologized for being a caring soul and not some hard ass bitch like her. That almost hurt.  She was not a bitch, maybe a hard ass at times, but she wasn’t a bitch. She was practical. She had pointed out that the kids seemed to be a-ok without them. Why stay? She had her own survival to look after. She also pointed out that he did not need to follow her. He could stay if he wanted, maybe rebuild society and satisfy some re-creationist thing in him.  She wasn’t making him do nothing. He mumbled something about not having the option. He was wrong but Annie didn’t care enough to correct him, even if she was secretly glad to have him along. She was starting to like him.

There was a slight noise on her right. It had to be that damn cat. The puma came and went, however, never seemed to be around when there was trouble. She was getting used to having him skulk around. At least it didn’t make a lot of noise.  A loud rustling of leaves drew her attention. The puma had sprung from the leaf litter on the forest floor to playfully attack Arthur. Arthur was feigning surprise. Annie smiled at the battle raging on between the man and beast.   The play was disrupted when they smelled the smoke. The big cat slunk back into the woods. Arthur and Annie looked at each other. A fire in these woods could be life threating. Up until the end of the world, there had been Forest Rangers and Forest Management, clearing out the dead fall and putting out fires so they would not grow and destroy the nature preserves. Since there was no more Ranger Rick  keeping everyone safe, fires would burn until mother nature herself put it out.  Annie had seen smoke in the distance several times as who know what burned up. It was one of the reasons Annie wanted off the prairies. Grass fires were fast.

The smoke smelled of wood and something else Annie couldn’t put her finger on. Whatever was burning was close.  She looked at Arthur then climbed the nearest tree to see if she could get a better look.  The tree was mighty and tall and allowed Annie to reach the top. The vista was spectacular. There was smoke a ways away but there was also smoke closer. It was in a clearing where there was   little building. If it was a house it was the smallest house Annie had ever seen. It looked more like a shed. Next to the shed was a might bonfire with a huge pot in the middle of it boiling away.  That would be what they smelled. She looked back at the other smoke plume. That would be traveling this way. It wasn’t moving fast, but if the wind picked up they were in deep trouble.   Annie climbed down, thanking the tree. She wasn’t sure she believed plants had feelings, but it couldn’t hurt.

She told Arthur what she had seen. They both agreed to avoid the shed area. If something was boiling on the fire then people were there.  People were just too iffy these days unless you had time to observe. With the fire approaching from behind them them both agree they did not have that time.  Silently they left the path and began to walk around the shed staying in the trees and staying out of sight.  They had finally made it to the back of the shed when an old man came out from behind pointing a rifle at them.

“Who are you? What do you want? Where you from? What you doing here?” An old man rattled off questions accenting each one with a push of his rifle.

There something off about this guy. Annie wasn’t sure what it was just yet, but there was something.

“I am Arthur and this Annie. Wwe are just travelling through. We will be on our way and leave you alone”

“Damn straight you are going to leave me alone.”

The two walked forward giving the man a wide berth. When Annie saw that he did not turn to follow them, she picked up a rock and threw in front of the old man.

“I thought you were leaving. He said and the proceeding to fire his gun aiming in front of himself.

Except he pulled the trigger and there was no sound. Nothing. No bullets. No smoke. No boom. Nothing, but a small click as the trigger hit the back of the guard.

“You better run or next time I will really fire.”

Annie looked at Arthur with her eye brows raised. She pointed to her eyes then the old man. She had figured out he was blind.  She stooped to pick up another rock and as she threw it to the other side of the old man, who pivoted towards the sound, she saw another rifle pointed at Arthur. On the other end of the rifle was a young girl, maybe 10ish.

Her voice trembled as she said, “I thought grandpa told you to get.”

“Yes ma’am” said Annie smiling.  “Is your gun not loaded as well?”

The little girl smirked at Annie, pointed to a tree and pulled the trigger. Two things happened almost simultaneously. One, shreds of bark went flying  as the bullet hit the tree and, two, the little girl screamed as Arthur wrenched the rifle from her hands.  She ran to her grandpa and hugged the old man around his hips.

“I’m sorry grandpa. They got our gun.”

“It’s ok peanut. I’ll take care of you.”

Annie had had enough, “What the hell is going on here? We are just passing through”

“Sorry.” said the old man. “I was protecting my precious granddaughter here. She came to visit and then, well, you know. Her parents didn’t come back. And well, I can’t see you, so, what am I supposed to do?”

“Well shooting me should not be an option.” Annie looked at the little girl who was sticking her tongue at Annie and hiding behind her grandpa.


What a brat, thought Annie. Well they had to get and so did these people.  The fire that was coming would kill them. Annie told the grandfather what she had seen when she climbed the tree. The grandfather thanked her, but did not seem concerned when Annie questioned him he gave a dry laugh.

“Come I will show you”

He led them to his shed. At the yard, Arthur and Annie both asked what was in the cauldron. Laundry was the answer. That was the smell that had confused Annie. The old man got to the shed, opened the door and with a sweep of his arm indicated that the two travelers should go first.  Annie shook her head, but Arthur went right in pulling Annie behind him. She forgot to scold him for his recklessness when she saw the elevator in front of her. She reached out and pushed the button. DING the doors opened.  She twirled and looked at the old man and the little girl.  The little girl smirked again and pushed her way past Annie and Arthur. The two followed her and then the Grandpa get in the car. The little girl pushed the only button there.  With a sigh, the doors closed and the elevator descended.


Chapter 2:

Chapter 3:

Chapter 4:

Chapter 5:

Chapter 7:

Chapter 8:

Chapter 9:

Chapter 10: