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The End of the Line · Original Minific ·
Organised by RogerDodger
Word limit 400–750
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"I think it's... an apple?" the little girl squeaked.

"We got eyes, sister Daisy," whispered Tim.

"How come it's way out here? It's an apple!" Daisy repeated.

The red apple contrasted sharply with the curious little mound of grey earth it sat upon. It had a single green leaf attached to the base of a curved umber stem. It looked just like the drawings.

Sandy pushed the others aside and stepped halfway up the mound. At eleven hands and nearly three stone, the lanky nine year-old dwarfed them both.

"I'm oldest. Rule two," she said. A curl of avarice tweaked the left corner of her lip, but her mouth refused to water. Despite its unquestionable beauty, the apple didn't look anything like food.

"Don't you eat it!" said Tim, dropping the cracked metal pail that held today's gathering of Everest moss.

"Yeah," said Daisy. "It makes trees cause it got seeds, 'member?"

Sandy looked back at Daisy and frowned. "You're supposed to eat seeds, dummy," she said. "Trees grow out of your poop."

Tim coughed and took a step backwards. There was a light breeze, so he pulled his scarf up over his mouth to keep out the dust and silt.

"It ain't fair," said Daisy. "Sister Sandy, City got three new babies this moon. Share it."

Sandy shrugged. "I'll test it first," she offered, and she picked up the apple.

It was light to the touch, not at all like a rock. The surface glistened with wetness despite the soot everywhere else. It smelled weird, but appetizing. She licked the tiny dots of water from its smooth skin. It was almost enough to moisten her lips.

"If you eat it you better poop near City, so we can get us more," Tim said, his words muffled by grimy burlap.

"Of course, I ain't evil," said Sandy, rolling her eyes. "But I better do it now. I pro'lly don't got long left. Brother Mark was fifteen 'fore he started bleedin', but girls don't take that long."

Daisy looked at Tim. His eyes were squinty and his hands squeezed tight.

"What are we s'posed to do if you bleed tomorrow and take the Heaven drink before you poop?" he half-shouted through his scarf.

The wind picked up and grit tossed through the air. Daisy wasn't wearing any clothes, so she placed her dirty hands over her mouth and nose, which helped a little.

Sandy made a loud, sarcastic sigh. "I ain't goin' to Heaven tomorrow! Even if I did, when you eat me, the seed will be in you. So one of you will poop it instead," she said. "Don't be babies."

"Oh, I get it," said Daisy. She crouched next to the pail and squeezed at the rim with her hand. It felt wonderfully cool to the touch.

"So what's it taste like?" Tim asked.

"Like an apple, dummy," said Sandy. She put it in her mouth and sucked the skin again. It still had a slight wetness to it. Apples are awfully wet, thought Sandy.

Then she bit deep into its flesh, and said, "Mmmmrk—"

"Sister Sandy?" the two called out in unison. She'd stopped mid-yum-noise, and her eyes were open wide as specks of dirt landed in them.

"Wwwwlk!" Sandy whined through the apple as though it'd caught in her throat. She hung limp in the air like an invisible giant was holding her up by the armpits. Her body bounced in little marionette-jerks toward the center of the mound.

Tim saw Daisy stand up, and threw his arm to the side to block her.

"Hmmmp! Hmmmmmp!" Sandy screamed through the meat of the apple. The muscles around her jaws strained against the fruit as she yanked helplessly at it with both hands.

"Shouldn't we help sister Sandy?" Daisy asked Tim.

"You know better!" admonished Tim. "We ain't s'posed to help. Rule five."

Daisy nodded solemnly, watching as Sandy clawed madly at the apple in her face. With one final tug, she stood directly in the center of the mound, and simply vanished. The apple disappeared with her, as did her leg bracelet.

After a long silence, Tim spoke. "I guess that's it."

"Can't we—" said Daisy.

Tim glared at Daisy. "Rule one. No tellin'," he quoted, and Daisy frowned and nodded as she handed him the pail.

Rule one was a hard rule. It was even harder when Daisy noticed the next baby looked a little like Sandy.

But life was hard, and the rules were life.
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