The Earth spins once again on its axis.

The shoddy old truck had been repaired during the day. The flatbed on the back reinforced with metal bars and ready for duty. The front lamps had been cleaned, specially scrubbed for the visit to the city. The brothers had spent much of the day digging; preparing the homestead for the new arrivals and place of eternal rest. After washing and donning new clothes, the old left on the floor by the old hearth, they made for the dirt track and onto the two-lane road that headed to the city from the valley.

The glow of the city could be seen for miles around. The florescence lighting the skyscrapers than dominated the horizon. Colours of soft yellows, greens and pinks; the hue of the city at night. The brothers took the roads through the slums, nothing more than dirt and stone tracks. There was no street lighting to guide them, but the elder drove on slowly; observant for any pedestrian or night walker they may come across. Past shacks and open sewage, refuse and muddy water; the smell causing the younger brother to gag and sneeze. As they approached the city, dirt track gave way to concreted road. The slums were denser as they got closer into the metropolis, the noise of the late night gambling and drinking dens more prevalent. Dead eyed drugged up walkers and prostitutes on the pavements; drug dealers and pickpockets intermingling between the pimps and customers. The slums broke and gave way to buildings, first simple structures of breeze block evolving into brick and concrete. Street lamps made the road less oppressive; opening up a wide cone displaying the throng of humanity, pushing and jostling even at this late hour.

The smells from the late night bistros and fast food joints; the young people stumbling out of doorways, followed by a sonic boom of beats and synthetic sounds. Revellers gathered around a fountain, pushing each other towards the cool water. Into the quiet business district; strictly organised and smartly kept, with neatly trimmed trees and spotless streets. The dark in the offices occasionally perforated by the torch of the night watchman checking for the thousandth time, tired and in need of a coffee. Past the hospital with blue lights flashing, a group ashen faced well dressed people gathered together outside the Emergency department smoking and talking in forced whispers. Inside a man with a dislocated shoulder was shouting at the staff, “Don’t you know who I am?” Security hovering and the exhausted staff with hands on their faces.

They arrived at the Barracks and were faced by a young sentry, armed and with a face more serious than his years should have allowed. The younger wound down his window, spoke a few words and they were waved through without any further formality. The truck came to a halt near the parade grounds, the lights of the main headquarter building were off but an outside lamp endowed the area in a cone of white light. Stepping out, they were met by a Corporal and by Gibil, the night cleaner. The brothers nodded to Gibil who shrugged and lit up a cigarette. The Corporal showed the pair the three body bags; then left to his bed. His business was completed for the night and he wanted his bed and the warmth of the bunk room. The pair hauled them onto the reinforced bed of the truck and then leaned against it, getting their breath back in the night air. Gibil had already started mopping the area from where the bodies had come from, stopping to wring out the bloody and rusted water before carrying on. He grumbled through his work and as the brothers watched a faint smile on their lips. The younger called out to Gibil:

“Oh how the mighty have fallen!”

Gibil looked up, eyes drooping; he slowly raised his arm and made an old country oath at them. The brothers laughed and waved him goodbye. Gibil harrumphed and went back to his cleaning. They backed the truck carefully and turned on parade ground before making their way out of the Barracks. With the windows wound down they drove home, the younger brother complaining all the way.

To Chapter Fifty-One – Sorrow

Ouroboros image from Wikipedia.