They travelled on the next day, leaving behind no trails and evidence that they had been there. Their stomachs were growling, though, and they needed to find food quickly.
“I suggest we split up,” Lucifer said. “We have to find food before we starve to death.”
“But who actually has weapons?” Alexandria asked.
“I do,” Layke said.
“Anyone else?” Alexandria asked.
“Me,” Lucifer said.
“I do,” Linda said, which brought surprised looks from everyone. “I’m old, so what?”
“And me,” Ella said, deciding someone needed to keep them back on track.
“I think I do,” Sophria said. She held up a small pocketknife. “Does this count?”
Priscilla laughed. “It wouldn’t do much damage against a wild animal, would it?”
Sophria shrugged, and put it back in her pocket. “You never know what it could do.”
“I have a dagger that Waiye gave me,” Priscilla said. She looked at Sophria. “Where’s yours?”
Sophria pulled an exasperated face. “That’s just the thing; I don’t know.”
“You aren’t coming hunting with us, then,” Alexandria said. “Your little pocketknife wouldn’t do a thing against wild animals. At least I have a proper dagger.”
“Sorry,” Sophria said. Alexandria’s thin lips pulled into a sort of smile, but she didn’t say anything.
Layke’s stomach grumbled. He thought back to the packs they had brought with them which contained many days of food. If they split them up and rationed themselves, he was sure there’d be enough for everybody. The only problem was that the packs were taken off them when they were attacked.
“Is that it?” Alexandria asked. When no-one answered, she nodded. “So that means there are six people in our whole group who have weapons. How many people do we need to feed?” she did a quick headcount. “Eleven.”
“We should set up camp here and have the hunters go in a pack to find food. Everyone else would be in charge of helping to gut the animals we bring back and cook them,” Lucifer said.
“Good idea,” Layke said. They stopped walking and started setting up camp near a densely-covered part of the forest.
“Let’s go,” Linda said, starting to walk away from the camp. “We’ve got to find food before nightfall. Hurry.”
The six hunters went in a pack to find food. Layke took the dagger from his belt. Lucifer eyed it.
“Where’d you get that from?” Lucifer asked.
“Waiye,” Layke said. “She made sure we all had weapons and food before we even set off.”
“She sure provides for her people, doesn’t she?”
“They aren’t her people,” Layke said. “They are just other women who believe in our cause.”
“She sure seems to rule them,” Lucifer said, shrugging. “The way you all talk so reverently about her, it’s hard not to think that.”
“No,” Layke said, shaking his head. “There’s no-one in power here. We are all equal. The only difference is that Waiye organises a lot of the things we do, and the women agree to it.”
“Like communism, then,” Lucifer said.
“Never mind,” he shook his head. “That’s what they call it in my land.”
“Where’s your land?” Layke asked, confused.
“A place called Sereay. You wouldn’t have heard of it, I presume?” Layke shook his head. “I thought so.”
There was a rustling to their right. Layke’s eyes flicked to the side, but he didn’t dare turn his head in case the animal sensed the movement. It seemed the others had the same idea, except for Alexandria. She instantly ran towards the bush, dagger unsheathed. Layke bit his lip. What are you doing? That’ll just make it run away. You have to lull it into a false sense of security.
Lucifer tensed, getting ready to run. Layke realised he had to do the same if he wanted to catch any animal today. Alexandria was sure to run at it out of pure instinct, and no amount of lecturing would change instinct.
Suddenly something darted out of the bush, hopping at full speed. Lucifer took chase, with Layke, Ella, Linda and Priscilla not far behind. Priscilla soon dropped back, though, coming to a halt next to a rather shocked-looking Alexandria. Layke paid them no heed, though; he had an animal to catch.