They say necessity is the mother of invention. If that was true, Greta thought, then desperation must be invention’s younger sister.
She stood nearly waist-deep in the snow, her loaded rifle pointed at the military patrol vehicle. Its wide tracks allowed it to move across the snow with ease, putting both Greta and her father at something of a disadvantage. But Greta was an excellent shot — and she had no intention of allowing anyone to hurt her father. She had deliberately placed herself in between him and the soldiers.
The vehicle grumbled to a halt in front of Greta, the thrum of its engine causing the snow to vibrate against her legs. She felt snow flutter into her boots, melting a cold, wet trail down to her toes.
A man opened one of the doors and hopped out into the snow. He was dressed for the weather, from his heavy-duty boots to his fur-lined hat and goggles. His gun was still holstered, but Greta kept hers level, making sure it was pointed squarely at his chest. The man took off his goggles.
“It’s nearly curfew child,” he said, “why are you outside?”
Was this a trick? Greta wondered. Or had they yet to see her father? She glanced over her shoulder, looking for her father’s shape, but he was gone.
The man was staring at her, waiting for an answer. Greta’s desperate brain tossed words to her lips and she spoke without thinking.
“I heard your vehicle and thought you might be hungry.” The words tumbled out. “We have plenty of stew to share.”
The man’s eyes narrowed. But he signalled his partner, then turned back to Greta and nodded.
“Thank you,” he said, “we’d be honoured.”
Greta closed her eyes, cursing inwardly. What had she gotten herself into? And where was her father?
Once they were inside, the man’s partner pushed the door closed and latched it. Greta shivered and moved closer to the stove. Feigning calm, she ladled stew into two bowls and waited for the men to remove their coats and take a seat. They ate like they were famished, which struck Greta as odd. Surely the military fed their soldiers well?
Greta studied them as they ate. The first man was built like a human tank. Tall and solid, he was more than twice her size. The second man was smaller and leaner, but his eyes were sharp. Something about him frightened Greta. He reminded her of that monster from one of the stories her father used to recite. The one that ate souls.
The second man finished his stew and pinned Greta with his gaze. “You said we. Where’s the rest of your family?”
“It’s just me and my father,” she replied. “He’s sleeping.”
The man gestured at the stairs, “Up there?”
Greta nodded, fidgeting with jars of preserves on the counter and hoping her nervousness wasn’t plastered all over her face.
“Perhaps we should pop upstairs to thank him.”
At that, the first man intervened. “That’s not our job Crace.” He pushed his chair back and stood up, “Curfew’s on. We should get back to work.”
The man named Crace hesitated, then reached for his coat and walked over to the door, unlatching it and yanking it open. He froze. Greta’s father stood on the threshold, hair thick with snow, eyes fierce. He held a knife to Crace’s belly.
“Back in the house,” her father growled.
“Well shit, Mike,” said the first soldier, using his gun to encourage Crace to sit back down, “I was starting to think you’d got lost in the snow.”
Okay, so here are the rules: This week, submissions must be 600 words or less and must begin with the following line: They say necessity is the mother of invention.
In addition, submissions must make some reference to the photo prompt, which is the following image: