A Change of Plan | June Promptlies

I really had planned to write more for the June Promptlies linkup, but things did not work out in favor of that. (Ooops.) But this week’s prompt was the perfect opportunity to dig up some characters from an older story and revisit them!
Find out more about the linkup at Sarah’s blog!
A bit of backstory about this group: They come from an older book draft that is sort of post-apocalyptic, involving some sort of megavirus and survival, and while it’s a really big mess of rough draft writing and a plot with a lot of holes, the characters are fun to write and I’m hopeful to one day revisit that idea in earnest when the pieces click to together properly. Until then, though, it was so much fun to step into their lives for a little while.
 T H E   P R O M P T
“On scale of one to Australia, how dangerous are we talking?”
T H E   S T O R Y
The concrete block building of what used to be a machine shop doesn’t offer much for most situations, but when you’re planning something like a break-in/rescue mission and need somewhere to work, it does the job well enough.
    “Anything new?” I ask as I approach the tiny back window where Alabama stands with his gaze fixed on something in the cold darkness outside.
    “No. The last patrol went through ten minutes ago, like always.” He blinks and turns toward me. “They still arguing?”
    “Debating. Arguing. Depends on who you ask.”
    “Right.” He adjusts his grip on his rifle and returns his attention to the window. “They’d better be figuring something out soon if we’re going to make our move.”
    “I’m just afraid we’ve already lost our chance.”
    He laughs. “Good to know you’re being sensible about this. I tried to have a serious conversation with Jett and the response I got was, and I quote: ‘On a scale of One to Australia, how dangerous are we talking?’”
    “Sounds like Jett.”
    We’ve had this discussion already, so I don’t reply and instead start for the office-turned-meeting room. With the furniture left over from the previous owner, it’s a cramped space, but somehow it holds six of us: Jett, Clifton, Thomas, Ellerie, my dad, and now, me.
    I take a spot against the wall and mirror Thomas by folding my arms. “You okay?”
    “Just fine,” he says, then apologizes for his gruffness as he tucks an unlit cigarette into his shirt pocket. “We’re losin’ our window.”
    By the desk, Clifton and Ellerie argue in hushed tones. Dad stands at the half-boarded window with his hands in his coat pockets.
    Jett lounges on a lopsided rolling chair, popping chocolate candy out of a yellow box. “Want one?”
    I accept.
    “You still going?” he asks.
    Yep.” While Ellerie and Miles to go into the compound with Clifton, the rest of us are on watch and distraction duty.
    Static crackles over the radio on the desk’s edge. “Change of plan. They’re transporting people tonight, not Saturday like we thought,” Miles says.
    Clifton hisses under his breath. “You said—”
    “I know what I said, but I can’t help it if they change the schedule. We’ll have to wait.”
     Clifton’s hands tighten into fists on the desk’s surface but he says nothing.
    “We don’t have the resources to try chasing them,” Miles adds. “I’m sorry.”
    “Sorry doesn’t cut it.” Clifton draws the pistol from its holster at his side and starts for the door.
    Ellerie picks up the radio and puts up her other hand to stop him. “Don’t do anything stupid.”
    “My daughter could be dying, and the two of you”—he points with his free hand at the radio and Ellerie—“claim to have a cure to this thing and are too scared to help her. I’m not leaving her to be alone.”
    More crackling. “She’s on a list for the next transport. Next week.”
    It’s not a death sentence, but it might as well be.
    A muscle twitches in Clifton’s jaw, but he says nothing. Just looks at Ellerie and waits for her to drop her hand.
    She does.
    The sounds of his footsteps echo down the metal stairs.
    Dad exhales. “They won’t let him past the gate.”
    “Not without me, they won’t.” Ellerie picks up her jacket from the desk along with a worn laminated ID badge. I don’t catch most of what she says into the radio as she descends the stairs almost as quickly as Clifton did.
    Again, Dad exhales. “They’re underestimating the risks here. They know it too.”
    “Come on, Sol,” Jett says, getting to his feet. “We all knew what we were getting into—it’s always been risky.”
    Thomas lowers his lighter and stuffs the unlit cigarette into the packet. “Guess it’s game on.”
    “Let’s do it.” Maybe it’s adrenaline, but the words are out of my mouth before I can think through everything, even though I can sense the undercurrent of fear in the air. If we’ve come this far, what’s the point in backing out now?
    Downstairs, there’s no trace of Ellerie and Clifton, but Alabama is watching the stairs as if one of us will give him answers.
    “Change of plans, Bam,” Jett calls out. “Sol and I are taking the van north while Ellerie and Clifton head for the compound. You still want lookout?”
    “Someone’s gotta cover our tracks if things go south.” Alabama frowns, but looks resigned to Jett’s frantic energy. Sometimes, it’s difficult to remember these complete opposites are brothers.
    I rock on my heels and check my coat pockets for the flashlight and knife, and grab my backpack of supplies from the floor. This part of the plan is flimsier, but it’s what we could manage on short notice.
    So while Ellerie and Clifton are making their way toward Liza and trying to administer the dosage Ellerie stole from her lab, it’ll be on us to make sure some of the attention is shifted away from their doings and toward ours. We’ve had the routes planned for weeks. We know the mission. And we all have our reasons for saying yes in spite of the risks.
    There are so many others we’ve already lost. If we can help one person, it could be the beginning to help so many others. We just need one chance to get it right.
    “Be careful out there, Bree,” Dad says, and I hug him an extra second longer before I head outside to where Thomas is waiting with the motorcycle. We’ll head west, wait for Miles and Alabama’s signals, and then do what we can to buy time. A small role, really, in the grand scheme of it all.
    But maybe it’s enough to change the world.

Comments

  1. THIS WAS SO FULL OF TENSION. In just that short span of time, I could FEEL the characters' urgency and hardships. I am loooooving this! You should absolutely, totally revisit this idea sometime, because it is GREAT!

    My favorite bit was “Debating. Arguing. Depends on who you ask.” LOL. Such a great line!

    I loved all of this so very much. Thank you for sharing! :D

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It's been about four years since I last wrote anything with this cast, and writing this reminded me how much fun they were! One of these days, I'm hoping their story will fall into line (and if nothing else, maybe I'll just write flash fiction about them? ;D )

      Thank you! So glad you liked it!

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  2. JAMESON!!! This is FANTASTIC!! Love the dialogue. It gives just enough to see what's going on, but still so intriguingly mysterious. I love how you inserted the prompt! Definitely need to know more, girl.

    Thanks so much for taking part!!! I love this! <333

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you so much! I LOVED this prompt. As soon as I read it, Jett was the character who came to mind. ^_^ It was so much fun to spend a little time with this cast again!

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