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500 Word Challenge January 2012

Caru Cadoc

THE CHILDREN’S ALAMO

“These crates,” Steven shifted in the dim light, “really dig in.” He leaned back against the plastic wall and started tossing an apple from hand to hand.

Klara looked up at the roof—just three old doors they’d laid across walls of plastic crates. She listened to the apple tapping in his hands. Looking out a firing hole, she saw the boys carrying wooden boards toward them through the tall grass.

“Are they coming?” Steven asked.

She nodded.

He stopped with the apple.

§

Klara saw, through the hole, a makeshift fort they made with the boards. She sat down, leaned back against the front wall and listened to Steven’s breathing.

She looked from her friend, tossing the apple again, to the apples piled in the dusty corner. She felt the crate beneath her and breathed the chill air in the dark little fort. She’d found a thick branch earlier that morning, the right size and weight for a sword in case things got ugly. She bobbed it now in her hand, familiarizing herself with its weight.

The first shot hit the doors with a dull thud, and Steven looked up with wide eyes. His knuckles were white around the apple.

A shot flew in through a firing window and shattered against the back wall. Klara watched the brown seeds spin, watched them touch air for the first time, nestled in the shard spinning at her feet. Steven hurled his apple out at them and Klara grabbed one from the pile.

Everything was chaos, crouching in the shadows of the bunker, firing into the light. Apples volleyed in and out of the firing windows.

She saw them in flashes. It was shadows reaching for apples, then the attackers in the light, framed by the dark crates as she fired, then shadows. She saw Tom running toward the fort. In the shadows, reaching down for an apple, she heard a crack as Tom kicked the wall outside. There were shouts and crashes as the others joined in kicking and shot into the windows at close range.

“Uncle Owen’s gonna be—” she flinched as an apple flew in. She wanted to tell them he would be mad if they broke a milk crate. Then maybe they would stop kicking the walls.

But Tom appeared in the back door, branch in hand. Klara grabbed her own and they clashed. The fort shook with kicks as Steven tried to hold up the front wall with his back, chanting, “Oh my godoh-godohgodohgod…” Apples flew in through the windows as Klara and her brother glared at one another over their swords. “Oh God!” Steven shrieked. “Stop!”

Tom and Klara looked up in fear and saw him falling into the collapsing wall. As she knelt and merged with the wreckage, Klara felt a mysterious peace.

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Caru Cadoc‘s short fiction has been included in MAKE, Jersey Devil Press, Word Catalyst and Storyglossia. He is the lyricist for the Chicago-based band the Pseudosufis.