None of us breathed. The seconds passed by like aeons. I was the first to crack, tilting my head back to gulp in the stale air. The others followed, and the silence that had filled the store room was broken by muffled gasps as oxygen flowed back to our starved lungs. Curling my toes inside my tattered shoes, I took a step forward. Mistake. The sound of the floorboard bending under my weight bounced around the tiny room, and we all held our breath again. The gentle creak of footsteps on the floor above leading towards the doorway, sentenced us more eloquently than any judge ever could. Slipping her small hand in to mine, my sister began to silently weep.
Now there are only two of us. I barely sleep any more, and I wish I didn’t at all. The twisted face of my brother as they rubbed salt in to his peeling skin haunts me, and my hatred burns stronger than any of the stars we have left. My sister twitches, having her own nightmares, and as I stroke her hair I feel a gentle breeze. One of the slats across the door is coming undone, and they can’t be allowed to see inside. They can’t find my sister. I take the broken handle of a broomstick and close my fist over the top of it, hammering the rusted nail back in with the wooden end. It splits.
It is only me now. Wandering in to the street seems surreal after all the years of hiding in the shadows, but I have no reason to hide any more. Looking up at the single star we have left since the Explorers came, I smile. One of the White Suits stands above me, and I join my siblings in the sunset.