Week 4 entry for October: Brigit’s Flame
Prompt: It's quiet now
Note: I decided not to do the Halloween thing. I don't know how this will fare, seeing as it's rushed...but anyway, here it is. Last entry for the month. :)
They stared at the sky as it illuminated the glow happening from below - two little boys with awe on their faces, and innocent wonder in their eyes.
“What is that?” four-year old Jamie asked, a hint of nervousness coming into his voice. There was a pause, before his six-year-old brother stopped staring at the brilliant display before them to look at him.
“It’s magic,” Joseph said, all solemn and sure. “Jacob said it’s magic.”
Their mother could only look at them with something akin to quiet horror in her eyes.
“When you hear those loud noises and those bright yellow lights—”
“Yellow? But they’re red sometimes!”
“Yes, yes—fine. Do you remember those red and yellow lights you saw a few days ago? Joseph? Jamie?”
“When you hear them again, just remember...they’re fireworks.”
“What are fireworks?”
“Fireworks are magic.”
The ground trembled as a particularly loud explosion reached them, shaking the basement abruptly. In an instant, Annie Sawyer was on her sons, embracing them and comforting them as one shrieked and the other remained silent.
“It’s a monster! It’s a monster!” Jamie yelled, gripping his mother and whimpering slightly.
“Now, now, baby, it’s not a monster,” she soothed.
“Then—then it’s a dragon!”
“Dragons are still monsters, Jamie,” Joseph stated wisely, his eyes still fixed on the window level to the ground that provided them a foggy view of the outside. “But don’t worry, those aren’t monsters.” Belatedly, he put a hand on his younger brother’s shoulder, and patted him.
After a moment, Jamie stopped whimpering and began rubbing his eyes.
“R-Really? Then what are they?” he asked.
“They’re firecrackers,” Joseph replied. “They’re firecrackers, aren’t they, mama?” He stopped looking through the window, and turned to his mother for confirmation.
Annie Sawyer smiled sadly, and hugged them both tighter.
“Yes, sweetie. They’re firecrackers.”
“Where are you going, Jacob?”
“I’m going to play with the fireworks.”
“We want to play, too! Can we come with you?”
“Sorry, kiddo. No can do.”
“Because it’s a dangerous game.”
“Will there be firecrackers, too?”
“When can Jamie and I play with you?”
“When you’re old enough.”
Another pause. This time, it was Jamie who broke it.
“Is it fun?”
His oldest brother looked at him with a wry, sad grin.
“Depends on how you look at it.”
The firecracker hit the ground behind him—only this firecracker had the impact of ten, and resembled a grenade that could injure a hundred times worse.
Because it really was a grenade, in an adult's point of view.
Jacob cursed, and ran to the side. It might have been too late, as the little dark green object exploded, and sent him careening to the murky ground, facedown and in pain.
“Shit! Shit! Stand up! STAND UP!”
Before he could even gather his thoughts, he was grabbed through his shirt, and hauled to a corner where grass was tall, and they were easily camouflaged. There was gunfire everywhere, accompanied by shouts and screams and endless panic.
“I can’t feel my legs,” Jacob croaked, coughing something wet and...was that red?
“That’s because you have no legs left, mister,” his companion—the one who had pulled him to temporary safety—scoffed, albeit sympathetically.
Jacob blinked. Then he looked down, and gaped in open horror at what he was seeing.
The man was right.
“Will you come back?”
“I don’t know, kiddo. Maybe.”
“Why aren’t you sure?”
“Because circumstances might change.”
“...what are circum...?”
“It means the game might take long, Joseph.”
“...but you promise you’ll come back soon?”
“I promise I’ll try. I’ll even make a run for it.”
His companion had long abandoned him. Not because of cowardice, no—the man was simply lying on one side of the battlefield, in the same position he was in before.
Only this time, the man was definitely dead.
He himself was already too wounded to move, too much in pain to do no more than try to breathe. Other than having no legs now, his stomach was bleeding profusely from a hole caused by a stray bullet—mini firecracker—that targeted him from the enemy’s side. Of course they would target him—he was among the few survivors left, wasn’t he?
Another grenade landed on the ground. This time, it landed beside him.
Closing his eyes, Jacob cursed loudly, and prayed for his brothers and his mother. Damn it, they deserved better than this. Everyone did.
Looks like he wasn’t going to last long.
Before darkness took over, he thought of his two little brothers one more time.
Sorry, kiddo. I lost the game.
A mother’s instinct always knew when the invisible threads of connection would break, at the exact second. It didn’t take long for her to feel one thread break, as another loud explosion sounded from afar—the loudest one yet. She had been bringing out the pillows for their makeshift bed in that locked basement, with only a lamp to guide her in what she was doing.
Joseph and Jamie immediately perked up from where they were playing with their Halloween costumes on—it was Halloween, after all—and stared at the window again. It was glowing outside, from a distance.
“Mommy,” Jamie said, “Look.”
Annie Sawyer did look, her heart breaking and tears silently flowing from her eyes.
“More fireworks,” Joseph announced, mesmerized at the still-glowing view. There was smoke mixed with fire...and nothing else.
“It stopped,” Joseph murmured. Then, seeing his mother crying, but not understanding why, he went to her and hugged her. Jamie soon followed.
“Does this mean the show is over, mommy?” Jamie asked, burying his head in the warm shoulder and the warm arms.
“Yes, baby. It’s over,” Annie Sawyer whispered, closing her eyes and breathing in the smell of innocent comfort.
It was quiet now.
It would be quiet for a long time.