She walked through the field at a casual pace, the tall grass tickling her bare arms with its length. There was no wind, and the late springtime sun beat down warmly on her back, warming her through the thin t-shirt she wore. She paused at the crest of the hill, breathing in the fresh air and savouring the silence that surrounded her.
“Oi!” The girl’s eyes shot open as a loud voice filled the air, “There ya’ are, Princess!” she turned to see a large man, built vaguely like a brick wall, slowly walking up through the field towards her. Through the trail being made in the grass beside him, she guessed that he was not alone, and as he got closer a large dog sprung out of the tall grass, tail wagging like a wind turbine.
“Oz.” She greeted, nodding at the man. She bent down to fondle the dog’s floppy ears, as it sat and panted.
“Ya’ know ya’ shouldn’t be out ‘ere alone, Princess.” Oz said, looking down at her with tired eyes, his chin covered with the beginnings of a beard.
“I haven’t gone far.” Princess said, “I just wanted some air…”
“An’?” Oz prompted.
“And... If I’d stayed any longer I would have started yelling at Zabi.” She admitted, looking down at the dog, who gazed back up with adoring eyes.
Oz grinned, showing his crooked teeth, “Ya’ never would yell at ya’ brother, Princess.” He said, putting his large arm around her slim shoulders and looking out at the view of sunlit hills that their height gave them.
“Why did you come after me?” Princess asked suddenly, glancing up at the man above her. He was getting old, grey sneaking its way into his previously-black hair, but he still held the impressive strength and size of his younger days.
“Well, we weren’ about ta’ leave ya’ ta’ wander off now, were we? We need ta’ stick together, Princess.”
“I know.” She replied, “But why you? Why not Zabi or Lab?”
The man shrugged, “French ran off after ya’ like a shot an’ ‘e’s ma’ dog so…”
The stood in silence, looking and breathing, as French the dog panted at their feet. They were some of the last. The man, the girl and the dog. There were five others back at the village, and some small bandit groups dotted about the country. But apart from that, there was little else. The seven in their group had been lucky. As had anyone else who, for whatever reason, had been on that small island when the war started. The world saw it coming, and had been expecting it, for decades; a nuclear war. One bomb went off and fifty replied. The world was blown up, and what survived was covered with radioactive dust. Except for a small, hilly island in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean that had managed to be isolated enough for it to remained unharmed.
“We should return.” Oz said, breaking the silence. French whined at those words, but Princess just turned and started walking back down the hill. They made an odd group, as the tall grass swallowed French up completely, with only Princess’ head and shoulders visible and Oz towering out of the grass. With Oz navigating, and occasionally yelling, “French!” when he saw the grass move as the dog wandered off, they eventually caught site of a stone well.
“’Ooh’s dere?” a voice echoed from out of the well.
“Just us, Collie.” Oz shouted back, “Oz, French and Princess.”
A head poked out of the well; a haystack of brown hair followed by a tanned face with a birdlike nose and pursed lips, which parted into a teasing grin, “Well, well. ‘Er ‘Ighness ‘as choosen te’ coom back then?”
Princess just squeezed past her and slid into the well, using the rope at the side to slowly lower herself down. Above her, Collie raised an eyebrow at Oz, who just shrugged. After all, when a thirteen year old girl had to live underground with six others after the world had ended, she had every right to be a bit grumpy every so often.
To continue or not to continue, that is the question~?