This is a short story featuring two of the main characters of a book I want to write.
The horizon stretched out before him, desolate and bleak. An ashen grey terrain, broken only by the burnt shells of buildings and black burn marks, devoid even of life, even birds and insects.
In other words, all was as it usually was. Lezvie surveyed the landscape as he walked, alert for any movement. The setting sun behind him made shadows that played tricks on the eyes, but after two years of it, he had learned to differentiate between an odd shadow and a shadowy figure.
Just before twilight, he reached the ruins of a large town, and made for the least damaged building to shelter in for the night. Avoiding the front door, he instead climbed in through a window on one side, dropping silently into the dark room and listening for any sign of life. He heard nothing, and so advanced into the building, looking for a room with only one door.
There was only one, and he missed it the first time because he had mistaken the closet door for a door into another room on first glance. He walked in and turned on his electric lantern briefly, scanning the room. An old heavy desk, a pile of rags, some broken furniture, the remains of a fire… Nothing to indicate a current resident. He was about to check the closet when he noticed that the pile of rags was moving very faintly.
He carefully set down the lantern and approached it, drawing his knives. Just before he was about to call out to whatever was in it, a feminine voice stopped him.
“Take one more step and you’re dead. I’ve got a gun.”
He stopped. “I mean you know harm.”
“Bull. You’re a man. And men only want one thing from a woman these days.” She sat up, coming out of the rags, and Lezvie could see the sleek black device she had pointed at him.
Lezvie put his knives back into his sheathes, then raised his hands in surrender. “Even if that were true, I didn’t know there was anyone here, much less a woman, until you threatened me. I merely seek shelter for the night.”
The sun must have set while they were speaking, for the temperature began to drop rapidly. The young woman scowled at him. “Why should I believe you?”
He unfastened his knife harness, dropped it, and kicked it to her. “I am now unarmed. Even if my intentions were hostile, I now have no way of carrying them out.”
She still seemed uncertain, though her hand wavered. “You’re just here for shelter?”
“Just for shelter.” He shivered. “And if you aren’t going to kill me, I’d appreciate it if you let me set up camp. It’s getting cold.”
Her hand fell to her side. “All right…”
Lezvie relaxed and picked up his knives, refastening his harness. “Just a note,” he said, unpacking his equipment for the camp, “threatening works better with a weapon than a flashlight.”
“Flashlight?” She held it up again, pointed it at the wall, and pushed the button. A beam of light came out, illuminating the room. She blushed crimson, then looked puzzled. “If you knew it was a flashlight, why did you act like I was really threatening you?”
Lezvie chuckled as he turned on his portable heater. “Because there was nothing to be gained from making you feel defenseless, since I’m not here to hurt you.”
She pondered that as he finished setting out his bedroll and rations, then watched him as he ate.
He caught her look. “You hungry?”
Her nod was very hesitant, but the sight of food motivated her. “I haven’t eaten since yesterday morning.”
“Here.” He pulled out a can of soup, set it on the heater for a few moments, then handed it to her with a spoon.
She quickly opened it and dug in, eating quickly.
Lezvie chuckled. “Do you have a name?”
“Angela,” she said between bites, scarcely slowing. “Do you?”
She finished the can and set it aside. After a moment of silence she asked, “Where are you headed?”
“Wherever the road, such as it is, takes me.”
She nodded, and there was another long pause. “Can… Can I come with you?”
Lezvie laughed. “One minute you’re threatening to kill me, the next asking to join me?”
Angela blushed. “Well, it’s just… I obviously am not as protected as I thought, and you seem to be different than most guys…”
He smiled. “Sure, you can join me.”
She smiled back, still blushing faintly. “Thank you.”
Angela knew, somehow, that she could trust him.
What she didn’t know was that joining up with Lezvie would take her on the adventure of her life…