Sunday, October 29, 2017

FICTION: The Importance of Lines

Bodies, and parts of bodies, litter the ground as far as the eye can see.  Some have been burnt, but most haven’t.  Blood and mud and ash mix, marbling in currents and puddles created by the incessant rain.  The smell is intoxicating – ripeness that has burst, sweet sickly clotting.  The sound of flies, and rain.
She can barely smell it anymore.  She limps, heavily, one knee shattered and self-splinted with twigs and rope.  She still carries her gun, even though she knows it is empty: her hand needs that heavy shape in its grasp, just to feel normal.
Her name was Bec, once.  But there’s no-one to say it any more.
She’s the last one.
A fire is still burning, even in the rain, and she finds her feet slowly, painfully, making her way there.
“Halt!” says a voice, sudden, stern but weak.
It’s a shape, huddled near the fire.  She can tell immediately that it’s the Enemy: it’s easy enough to tell.
“You halt,” she says.  That gun pointing at her must be empty too, because otherwise she’d already be dead.
“We’re the only two people left alive,” says the Enemy, “so you’d better do what I say.”
“Put that thing away.  It’s over.” She finds a place near the fire, feels the warmth start to warm her aching body.
The Enemy looks at her warily, but lowers the gun onto its lap.
“Huh,” says the Enemy.
Just the sounds of the fire and the rain, and the buzzing of flies.
“At least,” says the Enemy, “get back on your side.”
Bec looks at the dirt.
“I’m pretty sure this side is our side.”
The Enemy shakes its head.
“Nope.  No way.  The border is from between that stump, down past that pile of bodies, right to over there, near the tank.  You’re totally on our side.”
Bec points.
“Nah.  The border is from there-” she points out a blackened creek bloated with dead, “-to the tank.  That makes this our side.”
“You’re crazy!”
“That’s just the facts.”
“You serious?  I might be half dead and traumatised by war, but I remember where the borderline is, that’s one thing I definitely have right.  Unbelievable.”
“Believe it.”
“I distinctly remember the border running right through there, from there, to there.  Clear as day.”
“I’m not moving.”
“Well, I’m certainly not moving.”
“Well I guess we’re both staying here then.”
The crackling of the fire.  The buzzing of flies.
She can feel a tumbling clenching in her gut.  She hasn’t eaten in days.
(Maybe the border was from the stump to the tank, actually.  It’s honestly a little hazy now.)
“Anyway,” says the Enemy, sighing, “so who won, do you think?”
Bec shrugs.
“There’s one of us, and there’s one of you,” she says.  “I guess that means we call it a draw.”
The Enemy pokes the fire with the toe of its boot.
“Feels a little, I don’t know, unsatisfactory.”
The rain.  And the buzzing of the flies.

1 comment:

  1. This story was part of the Swinburne Microfiction Challenge 2017, a ten day series of 500 word stories written in 24 hours, given a certain prompt word. The word for this story was "Dirt".