I joined a writing group for the first time last week. The prompt for this snippet was “children.”
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The children attacked at dawn. The town expected—dreaded—an early assault, as the children were often awake before the sun rose completely, shrieking and sharpening their spears for blood. So two lookouts protected the populace.
The east tower faced the caves where the children lived, surrounded by piles of broken toys and the gnawed-clean bones of their victims. Often the children could be spotted prowling around, wrapped in rags to protect their skin, hair filthy and hacked short. The west tower faced the forest, blighted from some attack from the Before People. The trees grew gnarled and twisted, half dead, branches clawing toward the sunlight. Coyotes lurked in the meager shade, and denned in the tangled branches.
The lookout in the east tower spotted the mob first, pouring out of their caves, screaming and brandishing spears and bludgeons. Quickly, the lookout blew the warning horn, two long, deep blasts, to warn of the coming danger.
Shutters and doors slammed as the noncombatants barricaded themselves inside their homes, hastily abandoning morning chores. The sound of fear, hollow thuds, was punctuated with the lighter drum of running feet as every able body rushed to the defenses. Each person had their part. No gaps could be left, without dire consequences.
And then the lookout to the west blew their horn—a brighter tenor, in two long notes. The children had learned misdirection.
Everyone defended the far side, facing down invaders—looking death in its small, chubby cheeked face, with snarls of hair haloing angry eyes and sharp teeth. So the lone child met no resistance when they tossed a knotted rope over the barricade, a hook of rusted metal biting deep into the wood. They swarmed over the barricade with ease, and landed on the other side.
(To be continued)