Wheezing the soldier turned. Not sure how many of the unit remained, Alex turned as someone approached from behind. Sensing an attack Alex’s reflexes took over. Drawing the dagger while spinning the soldier’s instinct continued the motion until the blade was in the man’s chest. A crack filled the area. As the dagger found a new scabbard in the other man’s heart Alex looked for a source of the noise. While searching, Alex caught the eye of the dying man. Shock etched his face and spread to hers. This wasn’t just another soldier. This was the general. The man who had caused grief for so many, for so long. As his eyes drifted downward a smirk lifted his stunned expression. Alex’s eyes followed and the source was revealed. She had hit his heart. However, first, she had pierced his medallion. No one knew exactly what it did. All anyone knew was that he wore it everywhere he went. The man’s gurgled giggles as he coughed up blood proved ominous. Up close, she could see that the medallion had the insignia of an hourglass etched into the finish. Furthermore sand was pouring out from it.
With a final laugh the man fell over on top of her. He was a head taller and thrice her size. All of her instincts had fled upon seeing the general and she wasn’t braced for the impact. They both fell. Hard. She was pinned down and could feel the hilt of her own dagger digging into her shoulder. She tried to wriggle free before her uniform became too covered in a gritty mixture. Finding it futile to get free she examined the grit. Gagging she realized it was sand from the medallion mixed with the still-warm blood from the man. She doubled her efforts to break free, thrashing back and forth. Centimeter by centimeter she was making progress. Loosing all sense of her surroundings she was too late to realize she needed to pause. Instead she jarred her head into the helmet of a fallen comrade. The last things she took in were the blood stained meadow and the sound of the brook as it coursed towards the woods. Then, most inconveniently, all went black.
Slowly. Ever so slowly she returned to the world. As if returning to say hello, the first thing she was aware of was the bubbling water. Below her she could feel the cool grass. Something was different though. She thought. Then she finally placed the difference. The sun. She could feel it warming her. Kissing her skin and bringing her fully out of the cold dark nothingness. Cautiously she cracked her left eye. Finding it too bright she quickly shut it and took a deep breath. No blood. No foul stench of hopeless loss. No decomposing bodies. How was that possible? Water or no she must be somewhere new. Shading her eyes, she gave it another go. This time she kept the eye cracked and eventually added the other. Then, as her mind tried to process her surroundings, she gingerly sat up and opened them fully.
The meadow. The brook. The forest in the distance. It was all the same. How was that possible? Her brain was telling her she was in the same place but logic was telling her that it wasn’t possible. Then, inexplicably, laughter. She tensed, but this wasn’t the blood drowned laughter she had last heard. This was jolly laughter. Carefree and pure. Over the crest of the hill came a handful of people, two of which were carrying picnic baskets. One carried what looked like a paper. Throwing caution to the wind Alex jumped up and bounded to the group. They all tensed as she approached. When she snatched the paper with a hurried ‘Do you mind?’ They were not soothed. If Alex would have thought it through she would have realized how mad she seemed. However even that thought would have been erased as she looked at the masthead. That couldn’t be correct. Had to be a misprint. The issue date was off. Her eyes drifted to the headline:
Nation Celebrates Centennial of Peace
Peace? There was no peace, they were at war. She was a soldier in that war for pete’s sake. Exasperated she looked around. The group warily looked at her as they talked among themselves. Then she really looked at the headline. Centennial. 100. Unable to make sense of anything else the paper had to offer she looked at them. Gingerly returning the paper she asked, “Did we….win?”
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Prompt: Did we…win?
Kirin’s Writing Blog