Creative Writing, Fiction Story: Survival.
This story was a quick creative writing experiment based on three image prompts and a few keywords.
Andrei Vadim emerged from the gloom of a large doorway. He hated going into the old manor alone but the fire had needed wood and Sasha had still been asleep.
In the distance the train station was still and quiet in the crisp dawn.
Andrei walked quickly over the brown rusted tracks watching the grey light dance on the thin layer of frost covering them, he clutched a large uncomfortable bundle of sticks to his chest and with each step he could feel them moving and coming loose.
Up ahead he could now see the abandoned train car that was his home, from the dark opening in its side hung two legs, swinging lazily. As he approached Sasha’s head leaned out.
“Hurry up it’s almost dead”
“I’m coming, I’m coming help me they’re slipping!”
Andrei reached the door and awkwardly lifted up the random bundle of sticks as Sasha put out his arms and pulled them up, dropping them behind him he then helped Andrei up into the train car.
Within the rusting car a small fire was glowing dimly and the two boys set about breaking the wood into smaller parts and gingerly fed the kindling into the ashes, soon the fire was once again gently glowing and fluttering with small orange flames.
With the fire saved the two boys returned to the side door of the car and both sat legs dangling just in time for the coming dawn.
They sat in silence as the sun crept over the horizon, its light was cold and yellow and as it rose the light spread out over the entire horizon and oozed over the desolate landscape, reflecting from the frost and giving everything a pale yellow tinge.
“Do you see that?”
“Over there, it’s moving”
Sasha stood and peered into the half light.
“It’s a person…I can’t make them out”
Andrei; the younger of the two, looked apprehensively up at Sasha.
“Come on, we should check it out”
Sasha jumped down onto the loose rock chips and turned to help Andrei, who reluctantly followed.
The boys moved quickly and quietly weaving in-between abandoned train cars as they approached, they knew the layout of this long abandoned yard well and could navigate it easily. Eventually they reached a massive coal cart that had tipped on its side, and with Sasha leading they carefully climbed the rusted iron wheels.
From their vantage point the boys watched the strangers slow progress, for a while all they could see were a pair of feet plodding through the loose stones behind a train car but eventually the figure entered clear view and the boys could get a good look.
The stranger was a young girl dressed in many layers against the cold, she wore a long grey scarf wrapped around her head and neck and was clutching something to her chest, tangled within and around her scarf was long blonde hair that caught the low yellow light and shone.
The Girl walked slowly and without aim, her head was lowered and she seemed almost completely unaware of her surroundings.
“Who is she?...where is she going?” asked Andrei in a low whisper
“I don’t know Andrei….i’m not sure she’s going anywhere”
The two watched the girl for a while as she made her way slowly over the tracks tripping every now and then.
Sasha finally climbed down and squaring his shoulders said.
“I’m going to talk to her, you stay here”
Andrei jumped down besides him, his face betraying his fear.
“Okay Sasha….be careful”
Sasha patted Andrei firmly on the shoulder smiled and then made his way around the coal cart and headed straight for the thin slowly moving figure caught in the low yellow sun.
It didn’t take him long to reach the girl, who never once looked up or back as he approached, when he was close enough he spoke.
“Where are you going?”
The girl stopped and lifted her head then turned and looked at Sasha, in her arms was a large green book that she held tightly to her chest.
“I’m Sasha. Are you cold?”
The girl looked about her for a while and then back at Sasha.
“Yes I suppose”
Sasha stepped closer and took hold of her sleeve.
“This way we have a fire, it’s not far”
He then started back towards the train car gently tugging the sleeve. The girl followed silently once again returning her gaze to the ground.
Soon Andrei joined them and all three walked in silence back to the rust orange train car with its gentle column of smoke curling into the grey sky.
Inside Andrei set about feeding the fire while Sasha helped the girl up into the relative warm of the car, the two boys bustled about for a few minuets moving things out of the way setting the fire and unpacking food for breakfast while the girl found a few boxes out of the way and sat down.
Eventually Sasha beckoned her over nearer the fire where a flat piece of metal served as a plate for some bread and a small portion of meat, the girl knelt and they ate in silence.
After the meal Andrei’ curiosity finally overwhelmed his shyness.
“How old are you?” he asked.
The girl who had once again picked up her book was now sitting propped up against the back wall of the car.
“Nineteen….nineteen last month..”
“I’m ten, Sasha’s 12. What’s your name?”
“Are you brothers?” The girl asked.
Sasha answered in a loud confident voice.
“We ARE brothers, but not in blood. But we are brothers just the same.”
“My name is Alena.”
“What’s your book about?” Andrei asked, this question had been fascinating him ever since he’d first seen the girl.
Alena looked at him for a while before answering her eyes cold and distant.
“It’s a story book, it’s about a young boy who lives in a small village and all the people of this village are terrified of an evil witch that lives close by. During the worst storms they her the hags cackling carried on the wind as she casts her spells and commands the elements to sink their fishing boats and destroy houses.
The young boy is brave though and travels to the witch’s hill to try to defeat her, but when he gets there all he finds are some caves through which the strong winds howl making the sound of haunting laughter…”
Andrei looked confused for a moment.
“So why do you carry it?”
Alena brushed a tear from her cheek and looking at the grubby green cover of the book said.
“It’s all I have left…..my family had to leave our home, we walked for hours through the darkness looking for somewhere to hide until we found a ruined church….It was full of books, they were everywhere, piled on the pews strewn on the floor…..we stayed there for days and this was my favourite book…..but then…one day my father ran in he’d seen soldiers….”
Sasha suddenly jumped up, his face marked with anger and disgust.
“No! No sad stories here! In this place there is only good stories, brotherhood and happy things! There are no sad stories here” His tone softened towards the end as he looked down on Andrei.
Andrei looked scared, surprised by Sashas outburst.
“We made a promise” Andrei added “No sadness here, we are new here…free”
Alena nodded and smiled grimly.
“I promise Sasha. No sad stories”
The rest of the day went by quickly as the boys showed Alena around the train yard.
They played, collected more wood, checked traps and scavenged food until finally the sun touched the horizon and everywhere became cold and tinged with fire red.
As darkness and ice closed around them they sat in the warm glow of the fire listening to Alena read her book, and then after a time they slept.
Later that night Alena opened her eyes, it was dark and the fire was merely embers, yet the car was quite bright. Looking about her she saw pale silver moonlight shooting in shafts through small windows that ran along the top of the carriage, at one of them atop a pile of boxes stood Andrei his small hand pressed against the cool glass, condensation forming a print around it.
Quietly Alena got up and moved over to him. Andrei stood staring at the full moon that shone impossibly white high above casting a ghostly shimmer across the thick frost.
As Alena approached he turned and their eyes met. Together for a moment they shared their loss and sadness, for a moment their terrible burdens where lifted as they understood and accepted.
They stood in silence for that endless moment and then Alena hugged Andrei and held him close, and in that cold pale place they were warm and at peace.