It was a late autumn night, and though a harvest should have been; it was not. There were no bushels of wheat, no fruits to gather, and no barrels of barley in this year’s yield. Barrels of blood had taken the place of yesteryear’s crop. It was late autumn, and all but anything was not well.
The beast had come to ravage all that the boy; man, knew.
It’s hunger; the flesh of his kin, and all which he had held dear. Life itself, was his own dear mother’s toll to pay, as well as his father’s, his sisters, and many more of his family’s price for their faith.
There was beauty beyond comprehension in this land he called home, before the beast had come to ravage their lands. Peace, happiness, and prosperity…
Alas, as if a warm dream, gone.
Now it was no more.
There were no compromises with the beast, no negotiations unless you brought your guns.
It was usually simply fight, or die.
If only, that were the case, all of the time. Yet many in his village, including himself, had been forced to take yet another alternative. Fight, or watch the desecration of your mother’s, your sister’s, even your own wife’s body.
This completely inexplicable form of torture, was then met with various others. However, after the preceding method had been undertaken, anything else was merely child’s play in comparison. Then again there were no children left here. Only once innocent souls, drenched in the blood of their mothers, turned to old men, at the age of five, six.
If hell had a name on earth…it was this.
He had initially resisted the others call to arms, he had tried to reason with them.
“They are not savages, many live around us, in villages that have never raised a hand in anger towards ours.”
“They are our neighbors, we know them, and they know us. We have not wronged them, they are our friends and they would not come for blood, they have no reason!”
As he stared out across the darkened hills, cold and bare; he sighed, and loosened his sweaty hands from the barrel of his AK-47.
A word which tore through his broken mind again, and again, and again; into insanity.
What had they done that could have resulted in such demonic hatred.
Was it the bread, which his good-hearted ol’mother baked for the children of the grocer in the next village over?
Was it the way in which we had plowed the fields? Fields, which all of us once shared; or the way we believed them to be the same as us, human beings with a soul, our friends, even family through marriage in some cases?
These reasons ultimately mattered little now, and maybe had always. The beast had come hungry, and as it seemed, had yet not had its fill. Apparently the flesh of his family, and countless others, had not yet been enough to satisfy the demon’s appetite.
He remembered waking up to find the mark which was used by those around his village to signify those of his faith; painted red on his front door, as well as most of his neighbors. He had at that time not understood it’s meaning…now it was clear.
Pigs for the slaughter.
He had only come to terms after watching the “things”; terrible things, which they had done to his mother and his sisters, before executing his father. He had only come to terms with his own beast then.
Now; he had seen evil, and it had tasted him, a he had yet to taste it. He would avenge the blood of his fallen kin. He would satisfy the beast’s appetite with its own flesh.
The day prior, had been a savage day.
After castrating three men with the dullest blade he could find, the boy was sent up to the hills to recuperate, and watch the enemy around his village. This was not his own wish, as his dull blade yet had some “cut” left in it.
Orders, were orders, however.
He watched in silence, as a herd of sheep marched untended, on a stretch on low-land to his right. Sheep, pigs, cattle…men. All, meant for the slaughter at the hands of the beast.
One thing was clear to the boy, he would never be weak again.
Even as the enemy, outnumbering his village’s volunteers by what had to be a thousand to one, circled around his family’s land like a pack of hungry wolves, he would never allow himself to give in.
He was ready, almost impatient, to shed these animals blood, in exchange for honor; as were the remaining members of the men down below. In fact, he sometimes even dreamed of, what could only be described as, biblical revenge.
He had long ago accepted his fate, death.
Yet not the style of death perpetrated upon his beloved family.
The death that would avenge the blood of the fallen; with the blood of their murderers.
He had only one reservation in this effort however. Sahdina, his last shred of humanity.
She had always been a part of him; not because she lived across the road from his family for all of his short life, but because she was perfect in every way imaginable. Realistically, if it had not been for the beast’s arrival, she would have been his bride within a few short years.
It was Sahdina which he worried about. It was her life, and not that of his own which still kept his soul from dying somewhere, out on those darkened, lifeless hills. Her life was the exception to his hatred of the world itself; of life.
His mind drifted yet again, to what seemed like a pleasant dream, the life he had been witness to before all of this; before the beast had swallowed everything but his haunting memories.
He thought of the fresh fish at Christmastime, he smelled his mother’s coat as she caressed his head with loving hands. He wept, and he screamed into his dirty jacket to keep quiet, and punched the dirt with all his might.
Then he sank down like a rock in a deep, dark well…and he slept like one too.
Lights flickered into his eyes, and the bellowing thunder of the beast’s voice followed…
It had returned; and he had not been witness.
The distant crackle of unexploded shell casings echoed through the valley and up into the hills.
He had not even the chance, nor the will to dust off his rusty, sand coated eyes, before shrieking the sort of sound one only produces upon having his still beating heart torn out of his living body.
The tears streamed from his eyes, and shot off of his dusty dry cheeks, as he sprinted with all of his might down the side of the steep hill, falling several times, then continuing with the conviction of love in his step.
Then he reached his target.
Gone…ashes were all that greeted his return.
The ashes of those which he had delivered to the beast by surrendering to his deafening slumber.
He walked in a slow wobbling waddle, like some drunken goose, completely broken, in a daze of despair and unwillingness to even begin to comprehend the beast’s feast now before him. His slumped to-and-fro like some alien seeing earth for the first time. His eyes wide, his mouth dry; his soul all but dead.
“Where is she!?”
He yelled at the top of his lungs.
Had they taken her as a slave of pleasure!?
He knew then that she had not escaped, that she had either been forced into using her body to please the beast in a living hell of slavery and torture; or, that she was dead.
He screamed out a prayer, begging God himself for her honor.
His only wish was that she had died, that she had been slaughtered like an animal upon the beast’s initial assault.
Then came a sound.
Quiet at first, deafened due to his horror; yet soon it was evident.
“Papa, I think it was over here!”
“Wait for me boy, it’s probably one of the non-believers that hasn’t yet went to hell” “It could still have a bit of fight in it, so wait for me boy!”
Before the two looters had even exited his own father’s house, he could already recognize the voices.
Jutting behind a smoking lump of tires he watched; and he waited.
“Papa I don’t hear anything anymore, it’s gone, it ran away!”
“Boy, calm yourself, don’t you worry, he’s here, I can smell these swine ha-ha, oh, don’tchu worry my boy, he’s probably just quiet because it knows we’re coming to send him to hell, where his kind belongs, with the rest of his infidel family!”
The boy’s heart sped up, his hands sweat once more, his grip tightened.
Moments later, the old man was sprawled out across the road, his young son at his side as he gasped. The boy walked over slowly, in silence, with no clear emotions evident upon his face.
The old man’s son screamed as he sprang up and ran towards the older boy that had surely mortally wounded the father.
The boy snapped the butt of his rifle hard against the little child’s jaw. He hit the dirt, only to be violently jerked upwards by the collar, as the “infidel” dragged his small body in the direction of his father, now chocking on his own blood, as a dark-red pool gathered around him.
“You remember me?”
The gunman said calmly.
“Do you remember my mother grocer?”
The old man, unable to conjure up the strength to utter words, simply gurgled blood as tears poured down his leathery, wrinkled face.
“I’m sure your son does grocer…”
Two more lifeless bodies were left amongst the rest.
One an old man, strangled by his own blood, coated in urine.
The other; a little boy, with his head decapitated, and also coated in urine.
Like a ghost the boy roamed from house to house, searching for her, searching for his own soul amongst the rubble and burning flesh, perhaps.
Yet still; nothing.
She had not been found in her family’s home, nor his own family’s home, where his aunt often held long chats with the girl.
Then; he saw her.
Sahdina, her eyes, oh, her eyes, as beautiful in death as they were in life.
Her body twisted and mangled, one leg charred with the skin still melting from the bone, the rest, at least up to her lips, covered in rubble.
He began tearing through the brick and dirt without a moment’s hesitation.
He finally laid her out flat, closed her eyes, and wept for a good while.
…And so; watching her lie there, beautiful as she had always been, in perfect serenity, in peace, he thought to himself; at least she had died with honor.
“Honor”; alas, honor cold not save him, and as the shot rang out in the late autumn night, so too did her name from his lips.
Nevermore would he fight for honor.
Nevermore, oh, nevermore, would he know, the beast named war,
Eternal peace; alongside, other beasts…