Dull footsteps rang off of the packed dirt, steady under the moonless sky. Cam counted them and held his breath, biting his lip as the vibration carried from the old man’s boots out through the wall of the chicken coop.
“I can hear you,” the man’s voice spilled down Cam’s spine like gravel. “I can hear your heart beating like a rabbit’s. Does this scare you?” The tines of a pitchfork pierced the thin wall, inches from Cam’s nose. He gasped and scooted back toward the trees, his boot laces catching on the scrub that marked the edge of the overgrown yard.
The old man jerked the pitchfork out of the rotting wood, nearly pulling down the coop, and swung it over his shoulder. Dark eyes pierced the gloom where Cam scrambled to his feet and took off through the brush.
“Run, you filthy thief,” the gravelly voice carried over the crunch of Cam’s boots. “I’ll find where you’re hiding, motherless bastard. I’ll make sure you stay out of my chickens.”
Stumbling through the dark, Cam cradled the eggs against his chest, watching over his shoulder and listening for the sound of the old man’s boots. There was nothing except the scrub and the darkness.
Three eggs? He slowed and picked his way past a fence. Decrepit mutant saw me, and for what? Three damn eggs?
The brown brick looked black, the house as dark as the surrounding trees as Cam wound his way past the small stable toward the front door. The horses shuffled as he walked by, two mares tucked side by side for the night.
“Cam?” A shadow on the couch groaned as Cam pushed his way inside.
“Hey, Dom,” Cam sat on the coffee table, “I got us some food.”
“Food?” his brother’s voice was tight with pain. “Where? You didn’t go to old man Crowley’s did you?”
“No, no,” Cam made his voice as soothing as he could, “I just snuck over to the empty Harris place. Regulators burned the house, but the coop is still there. I fished through their nesting boxes. Chickens are gone, but something’s been laying eggs. Got three.”
Cam heard Dom swallow, “Just stay away from Crowley. Damn mutant will slice your head off with that pitchfork and eat it.”
Old crow almost did. Cam bit his lip and nodded even though Dom couldn’t see him. “Okay.”
A hand, trembling with fever, settled on Cam’s knee, “Don’t get caught, Cam. Whatever you do, be invisible. If they find you, they’ll take you away.”
You can also read the deleted prologue. More scenes to come!