This is a work in progress, set in my scifi dystopia. If you’ve read the Dalmer story posted, it’s the same world, but takes place about fifty years prior, directly after the start of a new world war. A warning, my scifi is dark:
Colonel Straus stepped from the confines of his transport into the brumal outdoors of some filth ridden village in what used to be eastern Europe. Within two steps, mire caked his freshly shined boots. This would infuriate him to no end under normal circumstances, but looking at the letter in his hand for the hundredth time in an hour, his heart sunk into the bottom of his stomach. The desire to retch set his hands to shaking.
His commander approached.
Lifting his hand for silence, Straus read the communiqué once again. He closed his eyes. Lifting his head skyward, the cold air almost burned his nasal passage, and he fought the wetness at the back of his lids. Pulling a lighter from his pocket, he set flame to the paper. As soon as it ignited, he cast it to the air, drifting like a dead leaf, tiny embers danced as sprites of the night, and before reaching the ground, his mind returned to the business at hand.
Straus eyed his commander. “How many?”
“Forty-seven in the initial advance. Once we took the village, twelve more in the round up.” The commander turned to the burning town and a row of men, women, and children on their knees. “Only fifty-three remain.”
Hundreds of troops surrounded the ones kneeling in prayer.
“Very well.” Straus strolled towards an elder man, the village leader. “In the name of Chancellor Valker, I hereby cleanse this village.”
Pleading eyes looked to him for mercy, tears streaked withered skin, and they were met with emptiness.
Straus removed his gun from its holster and pressed the barrel to the old man’s temple. “You are now clean.” In an instant, a wash of blood, brains, and fragments of skull decorated the black mud and pools of water. He turned back to his commander. “Cleanse them all.”
With one signal, the soldiers raised their weapons and fired. Screams rang louder than recoiling rifles and exploding barrels. Bodies fell. The land soaked with flowing blood, tears, death, and finally silence.
“Commander. I will return to headquarters. Prepare the troops for the next incursion.”
“I will see it done.” With a stiff salute and click of boots, the commander saw to his superior’s orders.
Returning to the warmth of his transport, Straus ordered his driver to remove him from the spectacle as his aid handed him a glass of whisky. Swirling the glass, he inhaled the aroma. A flow of spice opened his sinuses, and a lingering scent of cherry elicited a slight smile. One small sip burned his throat returning heat to his insides.
The late model sedan pulled away from the massacre, and returned to open road following a small river north. Night swept across the sky as the sun descended below stark mountains. Straus removed his visor-hat and leaned back. The world had changed, and yet, it remained the same. His purpose, once clear, obscured in the lines of black ink burned into his memory.
They were gone.
He pushed back another swallow of whisky. With a small cough, he sat upright. Heat from his loss, as well as the gold label alcohol, gathered around his tight collar, and his throat constricted. He whipped his hand to a side console, the window slid down, and cool air rushed into the stagnant compartment. His chest expanded with a deep intake of breath.
“Colonel. Are you well?”
Straus peered out his window, unconcerned with his aid’s question. As he was about to hand his empty glass for a refill, a flickering of light caught his eye. “Karl, stop the car!”
The driver came to a slow halt and looked into his mirror at the Colonel.
“Turn around. A road on the left bank.” The sedan rolled into action. The crunch of gravel invaded the silent night, and the stray light he had seen no longer shined. He could only surmise if someone was hiding—the road itself alerted them to unwanted guests.
Headlights lit a small hovel of poor construction. Windows, devoid of glass, were boarded shut, and a broken door tilted on rusted hinges. The car came to a stop.
Careening his neck, he listened for any tell-tale sign of life. None answered. “Come with me.” He motioned to his aid, who’s wide eyes bespoke surprise. He rarely entered the field. “You will follow.” Exciting the sedan, he shined a light ahead. Frigid air embraced his cheeks, and his breath billowed forth in twisting curls of mist. Un-holstering his sidearm, he approached the seemingly abandoned dwelling.
Pushing on the door with his boot, it creaked loudly and scraped concrete floor. His ears twitched at the high pitch screech. He shined light into every corner. Dry leaves lay scattered about the dusty floor. No footprints broke the layer of filth, and empty cupboards revealed no storage of sundries.
“Colonel. There is nothing here.”
He had almost forgot about the presence of his aid, but with his insufferable voice, he wished he had. “We will conduct a thorough search of these premises, and we will carry ourselves like loyal soldiers of the order.”
A small kitchen adjoined the left side of the living space. Again, no signs of life. Stepping to the right, a single door blocked their path. He pushed the door open, shined his light into the room, but did not enter. “Tell me something, do you notice anything odd?”
After a moment of silence, he turned to his aid. The man squinted his eyes in attempt to glean any insight to the room.
Straus kicked the door, and it swung on oiled hinges. “This door is in too fine a condition. Someone is here.” A small nightstand stood near a window facing the road. No lamp was present, and the table had no visible signs of disruption. He placed his hand on the smooth finish. A slight smile twisted his lip. Heat! The table still held warmth.
He examined the floor in closer detail. Whomever was here covered their tracks well. Turning in a slow circle, the light revealed the slightest of details, and to his trained eye, he saw nothing strange. Only a half-open closet remained. He slid the door open. An ordinary closet greeted him, and as he stepped away, he paused and looked back. “The best place to hide things is in plain sight.”
His aid stepped close. “I see nothing.”
“The bottom right corner.” A slight tinge of dirt revealed the tiniest of cracks. He tapped the false section with the toe of his boot. A hollow sound answered. “In the name of the Chancellor, come out!”
Silence met his demand. After waiting a few moments, he kicked the panel open revealing a small crawl space. “I repeat! In the name of Chancellor Valker, surrender yourself.”
A slight scuffling sounded from the dark hollow. Straus stepped back, brushing into his aid. He raised his gun and waited.
Movement in the shadows caught his eye. A tiny head covered in long, greasy black hair appeared, and a girl came to her feet holding a ragged teddy bear. She couldn’t have been more than eight. She might have had beautiful pale skin if it were not smeared in grime. The girl trembled, looking at him with large, blue eyes, clear and vibrant, and his heart fluttered; his throat swelled, and he thought he might choke from the lapse in air.
He lowered his arm, the barrel of his gun poking his leg, but he kept his light shining on the girl. She pulled her bear closer, tears filled her eyes.
“Colonel. She is one of the unclean. The Chancellor has commanded their cleansing.”
“Yes, you are,” he stammered and cleared his voice, “you are correct.” He pointed his pistol at the girl. “Close your eyes, darling.”
She continued to stare up at him. Her eyes pleaded. They begged. But he did not waver.
“Close your eyes.”
The girl obeyed.
With a loud bang, the girl jolted, dropping her bear, and her scrunched eyes tightened further. “Keep them closed.” Straus turned to his aid, who laid on the ground clutching his chest. Dark blood spilled across his hands. A sick gurgling escaped his mouth, and he spit up the red fluid of life. He looked at Straus in confused horror before sagging to the ground, limp and breathless. His open eyes still showed his final moment of disparity.
Straus holstered his gun, bent down to pick-up the girl’s bear, and then he took her hand and led her from the vagrant dwelling.