Author: Spiral Architect PM
The gray men came, men of steel and fire, and damn all those who stood in their way. The world burned to the ground and Mira was alone.Rated: Fiction T - English - Tragedy/Hurt/Comfort - Words: 1,015 - Reviews: 1 - Published: 02-06-13 - id: 3098928
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They came in the day, men of steel and fire. They had no reason to wait: why should they when victory was assured?
The village was tiny, innocent and full of unsuspecting ones. What a wonderful message they would send to the rest of them. This war was unstoppable, and they would be the ones to push the boulder over the edge.
The avalanche would pave the way to their victory. Their leader told them so; and he was always right, even when he was wrong.
They marched through the gates, and that was the end. Villagers took up arms far too late, and as each one rose up he was down again with lead in his chest. The first were the only true victims; they were shot down before they realized what was happening. The second wave had only partial understanding. They knew that this was the enemy, gray-clothed men with rifles and firebombs. These were not mysteries to them. Unlike the other villages, they had surpassed the boundary between modern technology and magic. They did not have these things, but they knew of them.
They knew of them from the books, and from the news that came in by one lone man on a bicycle every day. He would grab a handful from his bag and hurl them at their feet, three or four papers, five if it was a lucky day or a Sunday. Every day it was the same.
The gray men have bombs. The gray men seized an ammunition warehouse. They're coming to get us, they're going to take your children, we're all gonna die.
Continued on page C6.
They had huddled around the one television in their leader's home and watched the first city fall. It came crashing down like a great oak tree; they slashed at the trunk for days and weeks into months, and finally the great hulking urban oasis crumpled to its knees and submitted.
The gray men nodded and they moved on.
Moved on to smaller things, and yet, bigger ones.
The village held no meaning to their leader. It was just a bunch of huts shoved forward into a great new mysterious age of technology, and the people blindly followed the light of new promises in a digital world dangling before them like a carrot on a stick.
These people are primitive, the gray men argued. They pose no threat, they are of no consequence. Why?
And their leader told them: It's not about the lives. It's about the consequences, and that is where you are wrong. They mean something. Not directly, but it will show in the people of the cities. They treat these primitives like pets; a kind of conditional love that one shares with a moody dog. They like those tribes. They find them amusing. The loss will sadden them but not to the point of stepping up any kind of war effort.
And the gray men nodded and smiled, for their leader was always right, even when he was wrong.
And now they were here, with their firebombs and their rifles, picking off tribesmen like the animals the populace thought they were.
The second wave fell like the first. Slower, but they fell nonetheless.
The third wave were the deniers. The ones who stood in the streets, dumbfounded and slack-jawed as the gray men stepped in time to the rhythm of the rifles and the dance of death, ended them where they stood.
The fourth tried to flee.
The fifth stood and fought. Their blaze of glory was only a little longer than the semi-comprehending, and before long their blood fed the ground like the rest.
She sat in the house, in the chair by the second room where she'd sat so many times before, telling stories to the little children. They'd gather around the fire in the center of the room-much like the one burning now, although much more controlled-eager and bright-eyed, drinking in the words like they would be the only ones they would hear that day.
There was one of them there now-two, in fact, although the second was in many more pieces. He sat there like he always did, albeit a little slumped over. He must have been tired; the glimmer in his eyes replaced with burrows of lead.
The black crept up his face, singeing the flesh, and she couldn't look away.
The stories left him with his life, and she couldn't look away.
The gray men had not found her here-they assumed the fire would have smoked her out-but it was only a matter of time before they came to pick through the ashes.
The village's rush to catch up to the times pushed her in front. She grasped this new world better than the elders, and the young ones needed a teacher. Who better than the one they listened to every night?
The new world brought new ways, and the new ways meant new names. The old, gods-given ones would no longer do. Who would accept them with names like that? The unique names were not conventional. They did not conform to any kind of standard the civilized world knew; the tribal parents dreamed of their child and named them what they saw.
Their culture was set aside for the time until they could return to it, and yet secretly, in the back of her mind, she knew they never would.
Five years ago, she became Mira, and that was the end of that.
Mira watched the fire take its next meal with dead eyes and muted hears, alone from the chaos and the blood like fountains raging outside.
Above her, a hideous crack: the roof. It grew weak from the fire and weaker from the weight of the bodies cast upon it from the bombs.
Outside, the world screamed and writhed and crumpled. The village fell to its knees, to its hands, and down. Dead.
The fire was all that remained to pick up the pieces.
She closed her eyes. It would be over in a moment.