Love City Brooch: use these three words

Today’s writing prompt and my response.

Last day of this week’s challenge! The story starts here.
Love City Brooch: use these 3 words

He silently pried apart the planks in the wall. He listened. Not a sound, not even her breathing at the other end of the hiding space. He inched the opening further apart, listened again.

With a look back at her, he gave a thumbs up, peered into the dark room and crawled from the space. He eased the boards back in place. He crept to the door, listened again, waited, and peaked around the chipped door jamb. Empty. He ran, knowing where to dodge the rubble on the floor, fleeing noiselessly.

It wasn’t so much humans he needed to avoid in these darkest hours of the night. A small number of night watchmen patrolled, their routes regular and easily ducked. Packs of feral dogs were a greater danger, and the reason people shut themselves in shelters, doors and windows barred.

He sped through the city, on alert for movement. The old school wasn’t far. Within minutes he had slipped through an unhinged door, scavenged the store cupboard and grabbed curling paper, pens, and a mouse-chewed bag to carry them in. Not much was left here – no scissors, string, things of use in a decaying world. He glanced around for anything else, decided speed was more important, and ran for the dark doorway.

Passing what would have been the teacher’s desk, something on the floor glinted in a random ribbon of moonlight. He swooped it up, not knowing why. A jewelled brooch, overlooked until now. He ran again.

Close – too close – dogs howled at the moon like wolves, their journey back to their former selves gathering pace. He reached the corridor, the animals baying behind him, turned into the room.

Throwing himself at the wall, he scrabbled at the boards and fell through the entrance, tossing the bag ahead of him. She was there, in the guttering candlelight, ready to push the planks in place. The dogs milled on the other side, pawing and whining like domestic pets begging entrance to warm security.

‘I used to love dogs,’ she said, sitting with her back to the wall.

He stood, opened the bag and showed her his haul.

She smiled. ‘First step to escape.’ The smile turned anxious. ‘But is there another way out, because these dogs are going to bring the night watch here.’

He glanced to the far corner. ‘There is, but it’s well hidden this side and the other. Because it will take us through houses. People.’

She stood, touched his curled fist. ‘What’s that?’

He opened his hand. ‘I found it in the school where I got the paper. A few minutes from here.’

‘Oh!’ She reached for the brooch, held it close to her dark eyes. ‘I know this. It belonged to my old teacher, she wore it every day.’ Her eyes filled with tears. ‘It’s an omen, I know it is. A good one.’

The clasp was broken, so she slipped the brooch into a pocket. ‘Let’s go, while it’s still dark. Now I know where I am, I think I can find us a new hiding place.’

He walked ahead of her to the corner, where he tugged at the edge of a board. With both of them working at it, they forced the opening wide enough to go through, one at a time.

He took her hand. ‘We can do this, together,’ he whispered.

She gave him a solemn nod, the barest smile, and they walked into the darkness beyond.


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