So this is my third attempt at that short story contest. It was way too long: 518 words! Cutting out 218 words would be far too much; that’d be like leaving it halfway through the story! In this story, though, Sulfur is part of a gang in a wasteland that was once the world as we know it. There are other gangs around and they’re all competing for food, which is a little hard to come across. Here, Sulfur is leading a raid with six other boys: Spark, an eight-year-old boy, Risk, who is seventeen, and four other boys who remain unknown. They’re stealing fruit from another gang that lives in an old abandoned subway, but is still dangerous. They raid others often to get what they need, but not so much that the other gangs will starve; they leave enough for at least half that gang and take the rest. In this story, they’re stealing a large fruit, enough to feed at least four people. Also, Risk is the second-in-command of the raid, meaning that if anything happened to Sulfur, the leader, Risk would take over. That’s why, when Sulfur is running to the ladder, he thinks that if Risk has any sense he’ll leave Sulfur behind.

^^^^ I know that was a lot, but my backstories are pretty lengthy. It still can be inferred from the story, but that takes a lot more work than just outright telling y’all. Sorry.

He hit the ground running.

“Throw it here, Sulfur!” Risk yelled from Sulfur’s left.

Without turning his head, Sulfur tossed the fruit over to the other boy, then took a moment to veer away from the third rail of the abandoned subway; even abandoned, rogue electricity still coursed through the metal and was still deadly.

“The ladder!” Sulfur yelled to Spark. The eight-year-old boy stood near the rusty old metal ladder at the end of the subway. Hearing Sulfur’s yell, he scrambled up the ladder and stood at the top of the hole in the ceiling, waiting for the older boys to come up.

Sulfur hopped over the third rail and stood at the edge to give the other four boys in the group a boost up. As Risk jumped up with the fruit they’d worked so hard to steal, Sulfur looked around for the fifth boy.

He was lying motionless near the third rail. Sulfur decided to leave him and turned to climb the side.

There was a loud yell from behind and Sulfur looked back to see eight people, about the same age as most of his group — eighteen- to twenty-year olds — and were very angry.

He knew he wouldn’t have enough time to climb before they were on him, pulling him down. Making a split-second decision, he took off down the tunnel.

He sprinted fast, having longer legs than most boys his age, and he gained some ground on his pursuers. He was in luck; they thought he still had the fruit. If Risk has any sense, he’ll leave me behind and get the fruit back to camp, Sulfur thought as he raced down the narrow channel. Better that way. Won’t get caught.

He spotted a place up ahead where the side crumbled down. Hopping over the stones that covered up the dreaded third rail, he clambered up and began to turn back.

It was blocked.

The others were closing in fast. He set to work pulling out the loose stones in the blockage, but he knew he’d be too late. He worked frantically, trying to throw them back.

There was a shriek from behind and Sulfur froze, turning back. Two of his pursuers laid dead among the concrete pieces around the third rail, and he knew they’d fallen prey to the electricity.

He finished dislodging the last of the blockage and it cascaded down, raining concrete and metal pieces upon the last six pursuers. He  ducked under the debris and hurried back the way he came for the ladder.

When he reached it, he grabbed it and swung himself up to the surface, pulling the ladder up with him. To his annoyance, the others were sitting around the hole; they hadn’t gone back with the fruit, but at least Risk was still holding it.

Spark silently offered him a water bottle. He took it and gulped down half the contents as fast as he could, then closed it and set it on the ground. He looked around at the other boys, who were all staring at him, then grinned.

“Well, boys, another successful raid.”