Cowering on her bed she listened to the creaking boards, remembering the dark gleaming eyes glimpsed through the shattered plasterwork. Trembling she summoned a last vestige of courage, grasping the overturned broom handle she limped toward the tattered pieces of wood and cardboard denoting what had once been her bedroom wall. A scurrying sound preceded her. Must be a dog, she told herself. If it were looters they’d not have run, besides there was nothing left to loot, nothing except the cans under her bed that had kept her alive these few weeks.
She’d heard the rioting as the last folks were rounded up and placed on army trucks. Her injured leg still incapacitating her, she’d lain cowering as enemy forces over ran the city scouring for any food and supplies, machine guns braking through the silence. Since they left only the smell of death invaded her windows. She was alone, terrifyingly alone.
The next night it came again, a furtive creaking of the boards outside, soft scratching noises on the wood. Images flashed through her mind, alone, vulnerable, in the darkness. White knuckles clutching her covers she willed herself to be still. She could not catch it. She must let it come to her.
The dark outline she’d glimpsed before stared furtively at her from behind the flimsy wooden boarding. Eyes suddenly glinted in the moonlight. She gasped and it was gone.
It was her choice was she to be hunter or prey? The stench of death assailed her nostrils as she prepared, her stomach wrenching with nausea and fear. Opening one of her precious cans she placed the corned beef on a chair opposite the hole.
All night she watched in vain, but at the first glimmer of dawn she heard the boards creak. Apprehension surged, heart pounding she sat hidden in the shadows, kitchen knife in hand. She could see it crawling under the boarding, a wriggling mound of shaggy black. It was heading for the chair. Plucking up her courage she grasped the torch..
Relief coursed through her as the beam of light struck, not an animal, but the bulging eyes of a hungry, motherless, boy. Panicking he dashed for the hole.
Swinging the broom across his path she cornered him yelling, “No don’t go! Stay here with me. The food is for you. There’s more hidden in the cellar, when my leg’s better I’ll get it.”
The eyes looked down taking in the leg with understanding. They glanced back at the meat. It was gone in seconds.