This is an entry for Finish the Story Contest - Week #42.
Here is @gaby-crb's story:
Kayla's boots hit the ground. The dry earth scattered into dust clouds as she strode across the front of the house. Manny was late again.
The harsh sun beat down against her brown skin. She looked off into the distance, the heat haze sat above the plain, rippling the sight of the far off mountains.
She lifted her arm, checking her watch. The sun reflected across the scratched screen. She ran her finger over the deepest scratch. It had still worked after her accident.
A young boy came hurtling out of the front door and blindly ran straight into her. The force knocked them both to the ground.
She fell hard. Her limbs scraped against loose stones and the scorched dirt.
"What in the devil are you playing at?"
She got up quickly, patting herself off in the process.
The young boy sat still. Tears rolling down his dirty cheeks. He coughed as he struggled to breathe, the fine dust getting into his lungs.
Manny stepped onto the veranda and placed his hands on his hips. His shirt hung open and his hat tilted on his head.
Kayla shook her head at the sight of him. She had known Manny her entire life but she was always surprised to see him so relaxed at his home.
"This your boy Manny?"
"Aye, that be Thomas."
"He make yer' late then?"
Manny walked down the front steps and helped his son up. Thomas took the offered hand reluctantly.
Kayla chuckled to herself.
"Better bring him with us. 'Bout time he learned the family trade."
Manny and Thomas followed Kayla towards her truck. The truck smelled of licorice and sawdust. The engine rattled into life. Thomas slid into the centre. His eyes still pooling with tears.
Manny opened up a hip flask, taking a sip. He growled as the harsh liquid hit his throat. He passed it to Kayla, she drank as she drove across the open land.
"What them tears about then?"
She asked as she passed the flask back.
Manny laughed. "He got a clip round the ear for talking cheek to his mother, didn't ya' boy?"
Kayla gripped the wheel tighter as the truck bounced over the rough terrain.
"Well, that seems rightly deserved then. Ya' don't talk like that to your ma kid, ya' just don't."
The truck swayed as the tires followed the grooves and tracks of the land. Thomas was the most affected by the force, having spent very little time in vehicles of any kind. He watched as the truck traveled through a river, unaffected by the water.
Manny lit up a cigarette and tilted his head back as he exhaled. The smoke filled the air quickly, Thomas started coughing.
"Quit it will ya Manny. The kid got weak lungs or summit'?"
"He's a weaklin' alright."
Manny laughed as he clapped his son on the back.
And this is my ending:
They crossed another shallow river to finally arrive at the lumbermill. The place looked desolate. Piles of logs under a thick layer of dust, factory building with a collapsed roof, huge rusting circular saws left lying in the open.
Kayla parked the truck near the office, beside two grey SUVs. She nervously checked her scarred watch.
"Now, ya' wait in here while we talk business," Manny told his son before climbing down.
Thomas watched the couple enter the office, closing the door behind them. He put his small hands on the wheel, picturing himself driving off-road.
Then a loud yipping could be heard. Intrigued, Thomas opened the door and slipped out of the vehicle. The court was deserted, and Thomas made no noise turning the corner of the building.
He found himself entranced by the black eyes of a small dog. The two puppies studied each other for a time, neither uttering a sound. Thomas was so engrossed that he almost didn't hear the cracking of fireworks. He looked up, expecting to see something, but even though he could faintly smell them, the sky remained clear.
When he returned to the front of the yard, with a furry friend happily circling around him, the truck and one of the SUVs were gone. He could see their dust trail, in the distance. They seemed to be racing.
The door to the office was ajar.
Inside hung a cloud of gunsmoke. Coughing, Thomas stepped on a weird pink sludge, which he realized was white powder mixed with blood. There were overturned tables, and four people lying still on the ground. One of them was Manny.
His father looked asleep, his hands both clutching the wide-bladed knife protruding from his stomach.
Thomas felt his eyes starting to burn. He sniffed.
"What a crybaby," Manny said suddenly. "Ain't nothing in here deserving ya' wailin'. Hear me now--don't got all day."
Nodding, the silent boy wiped his face with his hand, which didn't make it any drier.
"Ya' get that knapsack and fill it with water--and--that package of snow there. Earned me severance pay. Also, take the smallest iron you find on these folks. And then ya' go."
He took a heavy, wet breath. "Towards the mountains. Walk two days and ya'll either find a bus stop or Kayla. If it's the bitch, put a bullet in her, tell her it's from Manny. She fuckin' planned this."
Manny fumbled for his hat. "Ya's a weaklin' alright... But we grow fast or not at all. Was 'bout same age when I got mah turn... Don't ya' waste yours." He pulled the hat over his face and fell silent.
The kid walked out of the building half-blind from grief. The dog looked expectantly at him. Scrubbing at his eyelids, Thomas searched the horizon. Very far, he could see something darker than the dust trail. A thin line of smoke.
"Kayla," whispered Thomas. He shouldered the backpack and started walking.