The man was stood there; his head slumped forwards, defeated. His eyes downcast and humbled. Around his neck was a bright red scarf, wrapped twice, with the frayed ends twitching here and there as smoke passed over them. Soot and sweat marked their faces and hands.

The young recruit stood an arms length away, his arm stiffening from holding the pistol up. He closed his eyes. He believed that if he didn’t see it, then maybe, he will not have to pay for it. He pulls the trigger.

On opening his eyes, he was glad to see that it hadn’t been messy nor had any blood ended up on him. He saw that as a bad omen. Smoke tugged at his boots. It was rising and snaking away. He saw a growing finger of blood make its way through the dirt. How strange blood does not simply fly away like smoke.

The smoke was from the houses. That was not his business. His business was to now move the body and pile it with the others. Sighing, he gripped the man’s ankles and tried to respectfully as possible; drag it over to the rest.

He was hungry and increasingly feeling the cold. It looked like the days work had been done; quiet claws gripped the now burning village. Did they not know they were not supposed to be here?

The soldier with the moustache, what was his name again? Pero? He was older. He said that the Government had told these villagers years ago to go away from the Valley, but they didn’t listen. ‘They were stupid’ he said, ‘stupid people who deserved to die’. Pero spat.

The young recruit listened but did not agree. He thought these people were meant to be here, meant to be here so that they could die here.

He kicked a stone and it bounced twice and into the wheel of a jeep. An order was shouted and he jumped onto the side of the jeep, balancing on the board. His hands rested on the mounted gun. It felt cool and he enjoyed the feeling. The engine exploded and the soldiers drove away.

To Chapter Three – She