Meat and Fire
by Matthew F. Amati
We had found no food, the boy and I. We walked for miles down the cracked road. Grey clouds hid the sun. Burnt trees lined the ditch. No wind blew, and no birds sang.
"There's no one left," the boy said.
His voice was weak. There'd been no food for days.
"They're all gone. They've all been killed. We'll starve."
"Don't say that," I told him. "We're strong. We can make it."
As the sun went down, the boy's limbs sagged.
"Poor us," the boy said. "We're worse off than bums. At least bums can beg a meal."
I frowned. "Don't call me a bum. I'm a rich man. This world is mine. My world. I rule it."
"Your world has no food left in it. We'll die."
As soon as he spoke, we both heard it. A voice. A low, sharp cry.
We crouched. We pricked our ears.
"It came from the woods," the boy hissed.
We moved slow, like cats. We came close to a stand of black trees. We heard the cry again.
The boy was quick and strong, though lack of food had worn him down. He burst through the frail brush. I heard a scream.
The boy's voice. "Come out, you."
A girl came out. She must have been in her teens. Hair like fresh straw. Huge wet eyes.
The boy hung on to her hair. He would not let go. He looked at her like a starved bear looks at prey.
Her voice was low but clear.
"What will you do with me?"
The boy saw no need to lie.