AUTHOR'S NOTE: This flash fiction piece was written for Three Word Wednesday and will be cross-posted later this week at Weekend Writer's Retreat. It is not part of the novel and it contains no spoilers. Be sure to drop by Three Word Wednesday or Weekend Writer's Retreat for more fun!
The stark concrete building didn't look promising, but that was why David had chosen it.
He heaved a chunk of concrete through a window, then used a piece of pipe to break out the jagged edges of glass still clinging to the frame. He scrambled inside and found himself in a musty office full of cluttered metal desks and vinyl chairs on rollers. Suppressing a smile of satisfaction, he began working the room, checking desk drawers for aspirin, batteries, and snacks that hadn't been nibbled by rodents. From a small table, he swiped a lidded glass jar full of candy. He found a plastic bag and dumped his goods inside. It wasn't much, but it was a start.
He went into the hall and tried the door of the next room. Locked. What had the grownups been thinking? Did they not care that the young survivors would need access to every resource? Had they really been so deeply in denial, or was it just habit that made them lock everything up tight?
He tried a few more doors and was relieved when one opened into an employee break room. The refrigerator was off limits, no doubt full of mold after so many months without electricity, but the packets of sugar and coffee were a gold mine. David dumped them into his bag, hardly daring to believe his luck. With these, he could buy his way into a new tribe - one less violent than the Kevorks, who had taken to killing each other over the slightest drug and alcohol-fueled provocation, when they bothered with an excuse at all.
With the bag slung over his shoulder, he went back into the hallway, so deep in his own thoughts he didn't notice the boy until it was too late. David took the full force of the body blow and felt the bag torn from his grasp. He recovered and gave chase, but the boy had a good head start. There was no way David could catch up, but the boy didn't know the building any better than he did and suddenly they were both at a dead end, facing a defunct elevator.
David grabbed the boy and shoved him against the wall. "You worthless little shit. Thought jumping someone else for their goods was easier than finding your own?"
The boy gasped and squirmed, but didn't answer.
In David's pocket was a switchblade, and he flicked it open with one hand and pressed it against the boy's throat. "Who're you with? Did you follow me?"
"I'm alone. I live here." The boy's voice was barely a squeak.
"Liar. Don't play the victim with me. You think I'm not wise to your tricks?"
The boy protested again, but David had no patience for excuses. He plunged his blade into the boy's neck, the first time just to enjoy the look of surprise on his face, then again and again until he found the artery to kill him quickly.
With that messy business finished, he wiped the knife clean on his pants, picked up his bag and looked around. Were there others here? It was unlikely, but after this he couldn't be sure, and no way was he going to hang around any longer as bait and temptation to kids less enterprising than himself. He had what he needed. With coffee and sugar, he was rich.
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