Monday, February 21, 2022

Bitesize fiction. A nightmare - part 2

Who are you? Are you really here to save me? I know I can't say this out loud, but I am yelling it in my head.

You take me by the hand and help me to my feet. Your face is obscured, but your eyes have an earnest look in them.

You motion me to stay low and lead me running down a paved street, flanked by austere concrete buildings. My heart is thumping. We are out in the open, what if someone shoots us?

Soon enough though, we duck inside a building and you close the heavy metal door behind us. We stop for a beat to catch our breath.

I raise my eyebrows questioningly. I still don't dare say anything.

"It is ok," you whisper. "This is a safe place. We won't be shot in here. This place is empty, abandoned by the family that once lived here. They have long run away over the border."

"Where are we? Why are we in the middle of the fight? Who are you? What happened to the people who kidnapped me? Wha-" You motion me to stop. I cease my torrent of questions.

"Don't talk please, just listen. We don't have that much time." Your eyes are pleading, so I keep silent.

"Thank you. I need to tell you, I need to show you... come with me!"

You take my hand again and we climb up a flight of stairs and go up to a window. You keep me out of sight and we peer together from behind the dusty curtains.

You whisper on "Look, those over there are the rebel fighters, who have risen against the dictatorship in this country. Those over there are the army... Some of them actually feel doubt in their hearts about the cause of the regime, but they buried it deep and replaced it with blind obedience. It is easier not to think." You frown. "So many people die when enough people are mindlessly following orders... Just following orders."

You grunt for a second and then turn your gaze back to the rebels.

"There is their leader. He used to be in the army too, until he deserted and formed this opposition. His military knowledge has helped the rebels get this far and survive for this long. His ideals may be fair, but most of his life has been a fight. Now violence is his only reality. Is he maybe no better than those mindless soldiers?"

You pause and look at me. Your eyes are sad, but I don't dare interrupt.

You turn back towards the window. The dust and rubble rises in clouds with each shell exploding. When it settles, it all looks slightly different. Just like a slideshow...

"Most of the rebels are just normal people, farmers, clerks, people just making a living. Most have families, children. They sent them away to safety and they stayed behind. To fight for their freedom from oppression. The hope to see their loved ones is what keeps them going day by day... Pay close attention now! This is the final battle... The army will destroy the rebel base and their armory and try to hunt down the freedom fighters."

I get a knot in my throat. Why tell me about these people, who are just going to fail? To fail and to die?! You turn to me and your eyes smile sadly.

"War is no joke," you say. "People forget how to be human, they forget the others are human too. If they remembered, they would not fight... Innocent lives would not be severed." You frown in silence for a moment. "But there is a silver lining. The rebels have called for outside assistance from a sympathising country. Their cause will win, after all. The war will go out, just as a forest fire eventually goes out. Leaving behind destruction and death."

I should be relieved, right? But why is there still a sense of despair in me?

"You need to understand. Even if people try to keep living their lives in a battle zone, when the fighting happens, time stands still. No progress is made, evcept towards the fight. Resources and lives are lost. The soldiers fighting in the war go in it innocent, like children. Then they are forced to grow up. Yet their own normality is set aside, stuck in the paused time bubble. And then, at the end, when it is all over, it needs to struggle to catch up. Some never become human again. Some, although losing their limbs, regain their sanity."

I suddenly feel sick and close my eyes, trying to drown out the images still burned on my rhetina. You squeeze my hand and I open my eyes. You say nothing more, just point outside.

Time has skipped forward, it seems. The fighting has subsided, there are no more explosions, no more gunshots. It is eerily quiet. The rebel leader is limping badly, supported by a comrade. One of his legs is severed, from the looks of it by an explosion. He is going forward to meet his allies, thanks to whom he has won the fight.

"I know I said this man's only reality has been only fighting, but I think there is hope that he has regained his humanity."

I look at his face. He is smiling a sunny smile, like a child.

"There will be time to mourn the dead and rebuild their lives later. But right now, they can be happy. They are free!"

And with those last words, your eyes smile and you let go of my hand, which has been gripping yours for dear life until now. Your hand, your smile, the window, the curtains, it all collapses together into a flurry of pages, as the book I have been reading falls to the floor.

But I can't pick it back up. Not yet. It just... still hurts.


  1. This is dedicated to one of my favourite authors. No name dropping this time. Nobody here has ever read their writings. Maybe what I've written can stand on its own too.

  2. Vividly described. Yes, it hurts just reading this...just want to drop everything and hug you. ❤💝🥰💝❤
    Beautiful writing!

    1. Thank you, you are too kind! I don't think i've done the writer justice...


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