Tevis Bluff

Montana Peak

In Fiction, Short Story on August 7, 2012 at 12:00 pm

They told me to write this down. To write down what happened. Don’t know why. Nobody I’d want to read this could. Plus, what do I know? Half-truths. Propaganda, maybe. Mix in some rumors, Holiday lights, and a bad smell and you know what I know.

I lived in North Ruby, the northern region of the once united city-state Ruby. I don’t know much history but it was once a wealthy mining region that broke into civil war for some reason. Now we have North and South Ruby. Two city-states with a big fence in the middle. Oh, and we hate each other. Always have and well, you know.

At 16, I joined the army. All children do. My parents were worried because of the growing tension between the Southies and us. I didn’t think much of it until actual violence broke out around the Fence. Luckily, some of our soldiers had found an old mining tunnel that led to the southeastern end of South Ruby. So there we go into the tunnel to surprise the Southies and win the war. You know, quick and easy.

“Surprise! We magically appeared behind your borders and we’re going to kick some ass!” Our group leader yelled something stupid like that when we first appeared and all hell broke loose. I found a ladder leading up a cliff. I climbed it to do some scouting or surveillance or whatever. Got to the top to find lots of provisions. You know: water, food, tents, rope, matches, survival books. Who the hell knows why it was up there.

Bomb exploded. Didn’t hurt me but destroyed the damn ladder. The smoke cleared just in time for me to see the army heading north into the city.

So I waited. A few hours. Night. A few days. Where is everybody? A few weeks. What the hell? Thanks for the provisions, whoever. Two months and it was the Winter Holiday. I could see the festivities in South Ruby so we lost, came to another truce, or had successfully invaded (whatever that means). Another few weeks and I had enough rope, cloth, tent material, and other stuff tied together to climb down.

I walked into South Ruby. Some kids ran inside. Southies. So whatever that means. Some elders came out to meet me. They actually talked warmly to me. Yet I was sat down at a table somewhat forcibly. For dinner. It made me suspicious.

When my chance came, I ran for it. For the Fence. Home. Oddly, nobody followed me. The first thing that hit me was a smell. I didn’t really notice, being so close to freedom. There was a tree by the Fence so I jumped up to the nearest branch and started climbing. As soon as my eyes could see over, I stopped. Holiday lights? That was weeks ago. Front doors were open. Cars weren’t moving. Not a soul in sight. And that smell. What the hell was it? I jumped back down. On the south side. Not home.

There was a kid nearby. I grabbed him. Demanded answers. What! Nobody knows? Of course I could smell it. What was it? Did he say disease?

I fell to my knees.

I laid my head against the fence.

I,
you know,
cried.

-Benjamin F. Preston

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