Saturday, April 7, 2018

Page 1676

((Triple Saturday -- Page 1 of 3))
“I’ve heard of him,” said Damian. “He built a bridge or something. With a quote like that, you’d think he was a warrior. What would he know about courage, anyway?”

“He’d know more about it than you,” said Parson.

Damian folded his arms. “I’m braver than both of you combined.”

A part of Parson wanted to keep arguing, but he just didn’t have the energy for it. Not today. Everything hurt, and he was tired.

So he didn’t say anything. He just grabbed a blanket and sat down quietly on the dirt floor.

Damian just frowned and watched him for a time. When Germal grabbed another blanket and joined him, Damian did the same.

Soon enough, they blew out the candles and tried to go to sleep. They didn’t have anything to eat, but no one wanted to go out in the middle of the night to try to find something. Eventually, they huddled together for warmth.

Parson found it difficult to sleep, though. In the too-quiet hours of the dark--when there was nothing for his eyes or his ears to latch onto save his own breathing and his own heartbeat--all he could think about was his mother lying there in the dirt. That image wouldn’t leave his mind. It was burned there.

“...Hey, guys?” came Germal’s voice in the pitch blackness.

“What?” said Damian.

“...Why is there war?”

Damian didn’t know what to say to that, apparently.

And neither did Parson.

“...Why is there war?” the boy repeated, perhaps thinking they hadn’t heard him.

“How the hell should we know?” said Damian.

“It’s just the way the world is,” said Parson.

“But wouldn’t it be better if there was no war?” said Germal.

“Who knows?” said Parson. “But if that were really true, then everyone would’ve stopped fighting a long time ago.”

“People are stupid,” said Damian. “That’s all it is. We’re weak and scared and stupid. Even the grownups. They act like they know what they’re doing, but they don’t.”

Parson didn’t know whether to agree or disagree.

And there was more silence, until Germal revived the conversation, “Do you think anyone else from the village survived?”

“Probably not,” said Damian.

“Both of you, shut up,” said Parson. “Go to sleep. We’ll need our strength tomorrow.”

And mercifully, they listened to him. And after a while, he realized that he could hear their breathing, too.

That helped a little.

Parson had a nightmare. He was being chased by a howling wind in the distance. It was far away, then all around him. The specter of death. Toying with him, like in so many Melmoorian fairy tales.

He was the first to awaken, and though he still felt tired, he didn’t want to go back to sleep.

Germal seemed to be having a nightmare, too, from the way he was twitching and sweating. Parson couldn’t stand looking at him, so he shook him awake. It wasn’t much longer until Damian got up as well, and then the Trio set out from their little cave to find breakfast.

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