The Refugee




Crouching in an inadequate cluster of foliage, he tried to probe the silence. Was it true, deep silence, or could a slight rustle be heard across the road? Perhaps the light click of a gun being cocked somewhere above his head. It was impossible to tell. He tried to peer into the darkness. Was it true, deep darkness, or did a man with eyes sharper than he lurk, poised for movement.

The heat was slowly sliding away, and with it the comforting spicy smell of home. The cold was starting to set and thicken in his limbs. He dare not stretch. To move would be a decisive moment. He must be ready.

He remained like this for an hour or more, analysing the air. Finally he judged that it was time to go. He moved cautiously out of the bushes, avoiding anything but pitchest black. His feet placed themselves softly on the ground. He was nearly at the end of the village, where the ground was more open but danger was reduced.

Then out of the corner of his eye he saw a family, complete with women and children, hurrying along the path. He cursed. They were barely troubling to conceal themselves. He could hear a child whimpering from here and flickers of pale clothing burned like beacons. He flattened himself against the wall.

The flurry of bullets began almost immediately. His ears were bombarded with screams and sobs and all about him was confusion. He stayed as still as possible, praying none of them would make it to his side of the road.

His prayers were answered. Finally, the bombardment ceased and he was left, icy with sweat, alone with the dead.


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