The Leaves were on Fire


The burn of fire outside is unknown as the world has collapsed. Surviving the elements is all that is important, right?

      By the time I stepped outside, the leaves were on fire. I knew my time at this cave had ended. The fire moved quickly through the mountains. I gathered my things and ran to escape the blistering heat. Once cleared from the flames, I needed to find cover before the invaders found me. A cave near the water would be safe from the fire, but they camped nearby. I snuck through the trees, peeking around each one watching for movement. I closed the distance to the lake to get a view of the camp before navigating around them. It was better to have them in my sight than to be in theirs. I reached the side of the mountain where the trees thickened, hiding its content. I ran my hand along the side, searching for the opening I knew to be there. A hand stuck out as I reached the largest tree on this side of the lake. I froze, but they had already seen. The hand grabbed my sleeve, pulling me into the cave, ripping my shirt with force. I slammed into the ground, hitting my head, making the darkness spin before it consumed me.

A warmth surrounded me. I opened my eyes to find a fire burning beside me. I flew to my feet, running back, trying to escape but found the wall. I slide down to the ground catching my breath, letting my eyes adjust to the light of the flames. I made it to the cave with a little help. The small area had been cleared out of debris and rocks, limiting my places to hide. Footsteps sounded through the cave. I stayed still, hoping the invader didn't see me.

"Hey, nice to see you awake. Sorry about your head." He spoke quietly as he moved closer to me. He stood tall with thin muscles and broad shoulders.

I stayed motionless. The invaders try to pretend to be friends, and that is when they attack. I searched around for the quickest route around him to the exit. He continued to stand in the only way out, watching me.

"Would you like some water? I tried to clean your head wound. You will need to keep it clean to prevent infection." He explained as he stepped towards me.

I pushed back on the wall sliding to the side away from him.

"You are okay. I'm not going to hurt you. Honestly, if I wanted to, I would have done it already while you were unconscious. Please take a drink. Then you can have some food. I caught a deer as it ran from the flames." He had moved to the fire placing the cup down on the ground. He stepped around to the other side to give me some space.

My throat burned from the fire smoke. I moved to sit next to the fire, examining the cup of water before sipping. It tasted clean, cleaner than anything I had in the past month. In this forest, it is hard to find anything fresh in the safe zones. The invaders took over all the homesteads forcing the rest of us to stay on the move.

He scooted around the flame to hand me a small metal plate with hunks of meat that were well cooked. He placed it in the dirt a few feet away to allow me to make a move. I hesitated, not knowing if it would be safe as well or was I pushing my luck.

I decided I had to take a chance as my stomach rubbled. It was hard to fight back with not eating in three days. I took the plate nibbling at the smaller pieces. I looked up at him to see a straight white smile looking back at me.

I slightly smiled back, "Thank you." I whispered.

"Of course, we have to stick together. My name is Jack, and you are?" He questioned.

I waited, judging his face for humanity. "Um... I'm Eva." I didn't want to give away more than I needed. He would have to earn my trust.

"Nice to meet you, Eva. It is nice to have company." He spoke cheerily, too cheerily for life we had been dealt.

I nodded in response as I continued to eat the meat.


My eyes widened, looking at Jack. He held out his hand. We stayed unmoving as the rustling around the cave entrance grew louder. He motioned for me to join him on the other side of the fire, away from the opening. I slide next to him, knowing that whatever was out there was worse than him. I bumped into him as I watched for the invader. Jack wrapped his arm around my back, resting his hand on my hip instinctively to hide me from the danger outside. I didn't jump away as the warmth of his body gave me comfort that I had missed for the past year from being on my own.

The movements lessened as they shifted away from the cave. We were safe for now. I turned, looking up at Jack as he looked down at me. I stepped away as he dropped his arm.

"Sorry." He whispered.

"It's okay. I think it is time for me to move on. This cave is compromised." I responded.

He nodded along as he agreed.

"Well... I guess this is bye." I looked around for my bag then headed out.

"Hey, wait, can I join you? I'm tired of doing this on my own." Jack asked, barely above a whisper.

How could I trust him? I didn't know if this was a safe choice but having someone watching my back could keep me alive longer.

"Um... sure," I spoke back. "But you have to keep up. I move fast."

He agreed with a chuckle. "Alright, I won't hold you back, or I'll go my own way."

I waited as he attempted to put out the fire. "Wait, leave it as a distraction. It's not like it will do more damage than what is already done." I instructed.

He nodded and followed me out into the forest of fire and invaders edging our way out of the cave.