north americaeurope


the last lament of the sun
shamir nandy
page 03:09

She rose to a kneeling position, still cradling Gally. Somehow she noticed her calves, and she couldn't help but vomit again, clutching Gally to her painfully. She couldn't even see her calves, her kneeling legs below the knee were covered in a pool of blood and bits of solid matter, which she didn't want to think about. She was surrounded by bodies, how many she couldn't begin to count. It seemed everyone in the plaza had been cut down, and looking around, she became convinced that many of them had literally drowned in blood. Facedown corpses lay in blood up to their ears, unmarked as they may have been. Closest to her the body of an old woman lay peacefully. Metal had taken her from her left shoulder almost all the way to her right hip, and her entrails slowly leaked out into the ocean of blood she found herself in.

To her left, a young girl seemed almost untouched, until Lucia's gaze wandered to her face. Still beautiful, her eyes seemed lustrous and her mouth quirked in the parody of a sultry smile, marred only by the thin trickle of blood that had escaped before gravity had pulled it inward. The top of her skull however, had been completely caved in, and Lucia saw only a hint of a pale mass beneath it before she voided herself yet again. There was nothing left in her stomach, and almost no blood, but her vomit was laced with something black and serpentine, wrapped with strings of dark yellow. Lucia knew what it was, she didn't need to see it.

She stumbled to her feet clutching Gally, and looked around. There weren't as many bodies as she had first thought, maybe a few hundred, but by no means the thronging masses that had gathered in the plaza. In the distance she could see the Julian Gate, obscured by smoke and fire. It was to have been their salvation. Lucia swore, spitting words that would have made her father proud.

She looked around, and saw people stirring. One handsome man was sitting up next to her, laughing softly. She approached cautiously with Gally, picking her way through the muddle of corpses. She saw the man only in profile, hunched over giggling, and she knew immediately something was horribly wrong. As if something could be right in a place like this. As she approached him, the feeling got even worse. How could she not try though? These were her people, and each of them, all of them, deserved life. None of them were to be faulted for their ancestors, or the crimes of neglect committed by their peers. They were only people who worked and lived, loved and laughed. Cried, and raged, yet forgave. What part had they in this? Nothing worth being left behind for. As Lucia drew close to the man, she moved Gally's limp body to her left arm, and angling her right towards the man, spoke up softly.

“Are you hurt?”

The man didn't seem to hear her. He just hunched over and laughed quietly, hiding his right arm from view. Lucia stepped backwards carefully, trying to not be sick as her sandals dove back into the quiet sea of blood.

“Brother, I…”

The man pivoted swiftly, his stump of a right shoulder coming around in a clumsy arc, spitting rivulets of blood across her face and chest. She fell backwards, all the while holding Gally in front of her. She waited to slam against the hard stone of the Julian plaza, but instead fell back against a sticky mass of nameless flesh. Scrabbling backwards, she tried vainly to find purchase. Her hand found nothing but torn flesh, but she still managed to work her way backwards, looking up desperately.

The madman loomed above her, but he seemed not to notice her. His right arm had been taken off high, but not cleanly. Tendrils of sinew still hung from it, dancing madly as the man tried to make his way towards her, tripping over corpses. He finally fell, and as he tried to regain his feet, Lucia found her eyes drawn towards his face again. It had been been burned, and horribly. She could still see the wide ring around his melted right eye where the torch had taken him, and the weeping flesh around it had ran down in crying rivers until it set. There had been no time to heal, and the fire had been too hot to blacken flesh. It had simply dripped off his face. She could make out the singed cheekbone, almost a point of sanity against his ruined face.

She turned her body then, trying to protect Gally from the worst, but nothing came. Looking back, she saw the man didn't even see her, had only responded to her voice. He babbled incoherently as he worked his way towards the voice, and then finally sat down with a sickening plop. Finding her feet again, Lucia but couldn't help but stare at him. His one remaining eye rolled in the socket maddeningly, seeing nothing, unfocused and dazed. She finally realized he wasn't laughing, but trying to cry – but his tear ducts had been seared shut.

Lucia's however, still worked, and she wept. Still holding on to Gally, she cast about her, until she found a double sided axe, slicked with blood. It was lodged in the collarbone of a middle aged man, and she tried valiantly to work it out. There were weapons left everywhere, from when they had scythed through the crowd. What need had they to recover weapons lost in the heat of the slaughter? The city was full of weapons, finer than the one she worried at, and much better crafted at that. Unwilling to put Gally down, it took her an eternity to work the axe. Finally however, it came free. She haltingly walked back to where the ruined man sat, and after a moment, laid Gally down. It was by no means a clean space, but she laid his unresisting body over that of an older man. Gally had seen enough, he didn't need fresh blood. Crying again, this time huge wracking sobs, she laid the axe against the crippled mans neck, and took a breath. He seemed to quiet, in anticipation of what was coming. She raised the axe, and brought it thundering down. She missed, striking him in the upper back instead. Hot blood tore across her face, drenching her. The blubbering turned into screams, and a fresh river of tears worked it's way down Lucia's face, running canals through the blood. Nevertheless, she steeled herself, and raised the axe again, and brought it down. She missed again, but she never noticed. Everything became a haze, and minutes later she only remembered the dull metal of the ax rising, and falling, and rising, and falling. When she finally stopped, her entire faced was warm, and the axe was drenched in crimson.