The sound of bristles sweeping cobbled streets reached her ears as she cowered in the darkened room. They swept slowly, pushing the brooms rhythmically.
Rasp... rasp... rasp...
There were no other sounds. No voices. No animals. She blinked into the darkness and pulled her knees up to her chin.
She willed it to rain. They could sweep the streets all day but the stains would remain.
Paint the town red, she thought. And she grinned.
A tear ran down her cheek and she wiped it away with the back of her hand. Her smile faded as she listened to the sweepers. She wondered if anybody had survived this time. She hoped so.
Coward, she told herself.
But still she sat in the darkness a little longer. Waiting.
And then silence. She sighed and got to her feet, feeling along the wall for the door handle. She left the room, shielding her eyes against the daylight.
The sweepers lined the street, their brooms still. Sun glinted off their metal skin and she squinted.
The cobbles were smeared red and brown but were no longer coated with glistening entrails. She peered down a drain to see the water beneath running almost black. Things floated on the surface.
She looked away. “Good work,” she said.
And the sweepers raised their brooms in salute.
(First published in Everyday Weirdness in 2010)