I'm coming home

I'm coming home

Tell the world that I'm coming home

Let the rain wash away

All the pain of yesterday

I know my kingdom awaits

And they've forgiven my mistakes

I'm coming home

I'm coming home

Tell the world that I'm coming home

He got off the bus and stepped onto the sandy red road. It was the only way to get to the village, and bore the weariness of a well-worn track. He set off, down the red brick road. As he walked, he reminisced about his childhood days in the small village. Running through the streets with the pack of wild schoolchildren. Climbing trees and building tree houses. Swimming in the river and catching fish barehanded. Sitting by the fire in winter with his brothers and sisters, wrapped up in blankets and listening as their grandfather regaled them with old war tales. All fond memories. Until came the day of the judging. He had been a lad of a mere 14 winters when the judges came. They had put all the children over 12 through the regulation testing. It had been 50 years since a child had been selected from his village. No one believed there would ever be another one. And in their village, being selected meant being an outlaw. No one ever wanted to be selected. No one wanted to be the soldier who had to fight forever in the global war. To the villagers, it was viewed in the same category as a death sentence. So when he had been selected, it had been an unwelcome shock. The whole village was stunned. Then one by one, they turned their backs on him and his family, leaving them to grieve alone. He still remembered the last day, sitting in the back of a black car, kneeling on the seats to catch a last glimpse of his beloved village. The villagers had stood in stone faced silence. His family stood at the front, tears streaming down their faces. His mother broke free of the crowd, and ran after the car, screaming. Then she had dropped to the ground, wailing, and he had watched in numb silence as she had gotten smaller and smaller. The last thing he remembered was her agonised cry, which had sounded inhuman with the grief it carried.

It had been 20 years since then. The war had ended, the war that had raged on nearly a century. He was finally going back to his village, his home. As he saw the first rooftops, he was unable to control himself and ran down the road. He was filled with joy at the thought of seeing the village once more. He ran like the wind. Then, as he entered the village, he screeched to a halt.

It was gone.

Where there had once been row upon row of quaint cottages, there was now half broken, wooden frames. The timber was blackened with fire and there was dried blood on the ground.

He walked further through the village. In the centre, where there had once been small shops and a market square, there was now only rubble. Branches, logs, bits and pieces from the shops. Hammers, broken plates, knives, even a small cross from the church. He stood in complete and utter shock. What had happened? The village had always been untouched by the war. It had been a sanctuary, a haven. When had it become a target? He forced himself to move on. His house was yet to come. Every step required effort, his steps heavy and lumbering. His heart was heavy, as he prepared himself for the worst. At last, he came to it.

It was no longer there.

There was a huge crater where his house had been, the ground around it littered with clothing and decaying leaves. He dropped to his knees, gripping his head in his hands, the skin on his knuckles stretched white.

His very soul seemed to be tearing apart. All he felt was an overwhelming sense of pain. His brain thudded against his skull, his thoughts empty. Gone. They were gone. They could never have survived that. Gone. It echoed through his brain like a call across an empty cavern.

Then he felt his heart break, and seemed to hear the crack as the fissure ran through the middle.

He lifted his head to the heavens and screamed, an animal-like noise ripping from his throat.

I'm coming home

I'm coming home

Tell the world that I'm coming home

Let the rain wash away

All the pain of yesterday

I know my kingdom awaits

And they've forgiven my mistakes

I'm coming home

I'm coming home

Tell the world that I'm coming home

Authors Note: Lyrics belong to Diddy Dirty Money: Coming Home.