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Watching – Short story

Three jeeps pulled up sharply followed by a big truck, armed men in uniforms piled out and surrounded the group of women and children.  They were tired, they had walked for two days and had only eaten what they had been able to carry with them before their homes completely burned to the ground.  A mother of two held her trembling children tightly, she smiled through her fatigue.  The men in uniforms were soldiers or maybe the police.  She was uncertain, but she had recognised their uniform and the emblem on their vehicles.  The leaflets that aircraft had dropped among the bombs had promised them sanctuary and respite. A woman behind her thanked God for their arrival.

“Where are the fathers?” a soldier of authority asked, his black pistol pointed in her direction.

“They were taken” she said honestly.  The soldier scowled he was unhappy with her answer. Behind her the group of about thirty huddled together, lost and aimless they had only the road to follow.

“Who are they?” a young voice asked from behind.

“They are friendly, they will protect us” an old woman assured.

“The radio announcer said that they will” another voice added.

The soldier of authority holstered his pistol she felt her heart lift in relief, behind her others sighed among their crying.  He signalled with his gloved hands to the three soldiers each standing on the jeeps, they were tall and above them in front of them dark menacing looking guns pointed at her and the others. The three men pulled back a lever on their gun’s the clicking was cold and lifeless.  The rest of the soldiers raised their rifles and aimed them in her direction, her legs trembled the others around her began to beg and plead.

“No, please” She found herself yelling in chorus with the others.

But these were the good soldiers. They would protect them. Her mind begged for a reason that reality could not give her.  She pulled her children tighter into her chest, her maternal love willing for them to remain safe despite her own suffering.  The soldiers looked on, she made eye contact with one he was a boy barely into his teens his cold expression was betrayed by shaking hands as he caressed the oversized length of this rifle.

“Please” she mouthed to the boy soldier, his cold gaze broke into a sadness.

“Please let us go” she begged again.

“I am sorry” the young soldier mouthed silently, “I have to obey orders” he whispered, his erect rifle dipping.

It was then that she noticed in the distance far from the road the rolling camera of a news crew, they were watching her and the soldiers with a dispassionate blandness.  Voyeurs recording her intimate terror. The world would see her execution, but would it care?

The noise was horrible, too loud to allow thought.  Her body was taken from her, ripped apart by the volley of bullets.  Her eyes never leaving those of the boy soldiers.  She forgave him. She was heavy on the ground, her embrace for her children never broke despite the storm of death.  She could hardly breathe; the pain was numbing as her mind echoed her fears into a lifeless calmness. She was dead she admitted to herself.

A boot crushed down alongside her face, a pool of hers and others blood splashed across her.  A loud crack of a pistol was followed by another, then another. The solider of authority then placed his pistol above her head, she could only see him if her pained eyes looked upwards instead, she found the young soldier, he watched on.  His youthful stare pulled her into a trance.  The sound was loud, then a darkness that slammed into her mind through her skull. Death.

The world did watch, but it was too busy to weep.

November, 2018

Published inShort stories and fictions

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