To Trust or Not to Trust

Hey, Ya’ll!

Welcome back to PEP! This week should be mostly back to normal. Without further ado, here’s this week’s short story. It was partially inspired by a show I was binge-watching this last weekend on Netflix, Doomsday Preppers, and a prompt I saw on Pinterest.

Amy attempted to muffle her whimpers as she ran down the tunnel, pulling her little brother with her. He didn’t understand and kept pulling back, trying to get his arm out of Amy’s tight grip. The only reason he wasn’t still complaining and demanding to be let go was due to Amy already reading him the riot act to stay quiet.

Amy came to a sudden stop when she heard footsteps in front of them. She put her back, heavy backpack standing up to the crush, to the wall to her left, pushing her brother next to her, arm across him holding him in place and shushing him.

She didn’t know who it might be in front of them, nor if they were trust-worthy. People she’d trusted and believed would never hurt her had already stabbed her in the back. Her parents were dead and all she had left was her little brother, as ornery as he was acting right now.

A young man walked into sight before pausing when he saw Amy holding her little brother, both geared to the hilt, the younger boy holding the bigger backpack.

“Are you both okay?”

Amy held her left hand up grasping an 8 inch knife tightly, “Stay back!”

The unknown man lifted his hands over his head, “I’m not a threat. I was patrolling and thought I heard footsteps.”

Amy’s eyes narrowed, “Patrolling what?”

“My family’s home. We live just around the corner. We’ve managed to survive this mess thus far but we keep patrolling to ensure security and looking for other survivors. We have room, you and your little brother can come with me.”

“No. We’re fine.”

“Where are you going?”

“Nowhere you need to know.”

“Why don’t you both come back with me. We have shelter, food, hot water, power.”

Amy’s little brother Matthew piped up, “You have PlayStation?”

Amy shushed him but the unknown man answered, “Yes, we do.”

Matthew spoke up, “I want to go with them.”

Amy frowned, “How do we know we can trust you?”

“Unfortunately, you don’t know me. But I promise you can trust me. We’re safe.”

For her little brother, Amy chose to take a chance, he needed shelter.

“You go in front of me.”

“Alright. This way.”

The unknown man turned and began walking.

Matthew struggled to get out of Amy’s grip and catch up to him but she refused to let go. She wanted her little brother right here with her. She didn’t trust this man.

“So what brings you two this way?”

“Our home was attacked by other survivors wanting what supplies we had. We managed to escape but were separated from our parents. We’re heading to a meeting zone to catch up with them.”

She pinched Matthew’s arm when he opened his mouth. This stranger didn’t need to know that not only was there no such meeting zone but that their parents were dead.

Suddenly, there was a thud from behind them.

Amy turned her head, “What was that?”

“I don’t know. But come on, we’re not far from my family’s home.”

He sped up and Amy doubled her pace, pulling Matthew with her, remaining just a few feet behind the unknown man.

They finally came to a stop just outside of a fence and Amy’s skin crawled. She knew something wasn’t right. She knew they shouldn’t have gone with this man, they shouldn’t have deviated from the plan, should’ve just kept walking.

They entered the gate, stopping once more just inside the border, gate still standing open

Matthew asked, still young and naïve enough to trust, “Why are we just standing out here?”

The man spoke, “I hear something.”

“What do you hear?”

Amy spoke, “It’s an intruder, isn’t it?”

They must’ve been followed.

He nodded before turning to face Amy, looking behind her.

Heart pounding, “They’re right behind me, aren’t they?”

He looked at Amy, “Actually, he’s right in front of you.”

He lifted a gun neither of Amy or Matthew had seen and fired.

Amy turned, pushing her brother out of the line of fire. She jolted as the bullet sliced through her arm. They began running, making it out of the gate. The man fired again immediately and Amy pulled her backpack off as she felt this bullet pierce the junction between her neck and shoulder.

“Matthew, run!”

She pushed her backpack into his hands and Matthew tried to protest.

“No, Matthew. I’m not going to make it. You take this and go. Stay safe!”

Matthew took her bag and, tears running down his face, started running as Amy fell for the last time. He kept dodging the bullets coming from his gun before they finally stopped as he got out of range.

He turned just in time to see the man drag his sister’s body back within the borders of his property.

Matthew didn’t know why the man had targeted he and his sister to kill but he would never forget the lesson he learned today. He would never trust another human being as long as he lived.


©Paula Crofoot

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