Today's story is set in the Icarus universe not long after "The Quiet Pause," but it is dealing with a brand new set of characters half a country away. This is the start of a brand new story line for this universe, so don't feel like you need to know anything about it to just jump right in.
High School Never Ends
“Wow. The stars sure are beautiful.”
Desiree turned her head and regarded the girl beside her. “We’re lost in a wasteland,” she deadpanned.
Catlin’s ears reddened, and she rolled her eyes. “Well, excuse me for looking on the bright side,” she muttered. Catlin pushed up off the ground and dusted herself off. She stood there, staring into their fire for a moment. “We don’t have to be miserable all the time because the world’s gone to hell.”
“Oh really?” Desiree snapped back with a wide gesture toward their meger camp. “What’s there to be happy about?”
The former prom queen turned from watching the flames to regard Desiree with an expression more somber than she’d thought the other girl was capable of and said, “We’re alive.” Catlin hugged herself, smoothing her hands over her arms to warm them. “And we aren’t out here alone.” She turned her attention away from Desiree and glanced around the fire before shaking her head and walking off with a huff.
“Out of the mouths of flakes,” Aden joked as Catlin ducked into one of the makeshift tents.
J. elbowed him for the jab, and Desiree huffed in annoyance as the boys got in a minor scuffle.
She hadn’t even wanted to go to the bonfire that night, but Zack and Alyson had drug her along. Now she was stuck with this group of kids she never even really knew, let alone liked, unless she wanted to go off all on her own. Neither option was exactly pleasant, but she had to admit, Catlin had a point. She’d be dead now if she’d stayed home like she’d wanted that night, same as everyone else in their little town.
“We’re not lost.”
Koda’s voice startled Desiree, making her jump as he eased onto the ground a few feet away. She felt her face warm, and she turned away from the fire to notice Koda offering her one of the birds they’d been roasting. She accepted the stick it was skewered on.
“Coulda fooled me.”
Koda chuckled. His smile sat somewhere between a smirk and a grin as he watched her pick at the scrawny bird. It made her nervous to try it until he tore a big piece out of his.
“That’s because you don’t know how to read those stars,” he said a moment later. “They’re telling us we’re on the right track.”
“I suppose you’d know, Boyscout.” He grimaced at the nickname, and a sense of amused vindication filled her.
They continued their meal in relative silence save for Emilie and Mal’s debate over where they should head first when they got to the next town. Maybe it was just the mood she was in tonight, but Desiree couldn’t help but think heading there at all was a mistake. No matter where they went, they’d be seen as outsiders. A risk. It’s not like they had much money between them, and who even knew if their money even meant anything anymore or if any of the readers would work if it did?
“It’s not being lost you’re worried about, is it?”
Desiree pulled what little remained of her dinner off the skewer and chucked it in the fire before setting the bit of wood aside. “Who says I’m worried?” she asked without looking Koda’s way.
He made a noise she couldn’t quite decipher, and she saw him shift at the edge of her vision. “No one,” he said. A teasing lilt played around the edges of his voice. “But they didn’t have to. You’re giving off that vibe.”
Desiree clenched her jaw to keep from snapping and proving him right. She took a deep breath as she attempted to get her irritation back under control before giving him the most bored look she could manage.
“Maybe I’m just salty the world decided to end while I was stuck at some stupid homecoming bonfire senior year,” she said. “So now, instead of the future I’ve worked for my whole life, I’m stuck in some high school reunion nightmare, except I never even got to graduate!”
She stood and stalked off to the tent she shared with Alyson, smiling in satisfaction at Koda’s stunned expression.
Every Friday, I post a flash fiction of 700 words or less prompted by a first line taken from prompt sites or Pinterest like this one or submitted by readers like "Don't Forget Me" and "Culture Shock."
I have a good sized bank of prompts saved, but I love working from prompts suggested by you! If you have one, comment below or tweet it at me. I'll write the fic and post it with a screenshot of your comment or tweet and my thanks.
A. B. England is a small business owner, mom of two, novelist, all around geek, and avid crafter. She loves mythology, fantasy, and all flavors of science fiction.
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