*warning - Adult content*

It won’t be long now. He’s hoping that they won’t notice the blood on the floor, or that the cupboard door isn’t quite closed, but he knows they will. Of course they will. There’s no way they won’t. It’s so obvious.

It was his fault. He didn’t need to go out. He’d left the church last night, he’d got more tins from the storeroom, there was still water coming from the drain, he hadn’t needed to, everything would have been fine. 

But he had gone out. And of course, they’d seen him. He’d been on the road, right there, right out in the open, when they’d come through the old school yard. Like an idiot, he hadn’t been hiding, or moving through the rubble on either side, no, he’d been walking right down the middle of the road. Of course they’d be there; of course they’d see him.

He’d tried to duck away, to quickly run into the school classrooms, but he’d heard them shouting, and the jeep’s engine picking up, so he’d run through the hall, and back into the chapel. He’d been running so fast, not really looking, just trying to get back to his hiding spot, that he hadn’t seen the rusted piece of reinforcing metal out of a piece of concrete, he’d felt it catch his thigh, but he’d been running, trying to get away, that he hadn’t had time to look at it.

He had time now. It was bad. It was an ugly, long rip, going right across his leg. He was lucky it hadn’t been much lower; it would have shredded his knee. It didn’t really matter though. They must have seen him come in here; they weren’t that far behind him. They’d see the blood on the floor. 

So this is how it ends. All the shit, the hiding, the scavenging for food, everything, the whole worrying, being scared, it all ends here, like this. 

He’d thought sometimes how he wanted to it to happen. At times he pictured himself going out fighting off a team of them, lobbing grenades, a machine gun under each arm, shells spilling everywhere. But that wasn’t going to happen. He’d never been able to find a machine gun; he wouldn’t know how to use one anyway. No, all he had was the old revolver; he’d had to tape the handle that you put your hand around with industrial tape because it had broken ages ago. And even then, he only had three bullets left in that. He checked. Yes. Three bullets.

He’d known they would come this way. He’d seen them moving through the areas towards the rivers. They just moved through with industrial graders and bulldozers, just smashing and flattening everything, everything, houses, schools, churches, everything. They just moved through, and everything behind them was just this carpet of broken rubble.

It made sense actually. It made it difficult for the South to get close to them. They’d be slowed down going through the rubble, and they wouldn’t be able to hide, they’d be out in the open. He didn’t know if it would actually help though. He could understand why they thought it would, maybe. 

He’d watched them moving through the old business district, where his old office used to be. It wasn’t there anymore. Nothing was there anymore. Those machines must use so much fuel; they do this every day, just endlessly moving through, smashing and crushing everything. He’d run out of fuel a long, long time ago. 

He’d basically run out of everything a long time ago. 

It didn’t really matter now, anyway.

He could hear shouting, and the sound of the jeep coming closer. Obviously, they were being careful; he could have mines, or grenades, whatever. But he didn’t, so it might take them a little while, but they were here, they were outside the church.

He knew they’d kill him. 

They’d started killing all the people outside the fences ages ago. There’d been the bodies on the roads, he’d heard the shooting, but that had all but stopped now. There weren’t many people like him left, he hadn’t seen or heard anyone else outside the walls, another partisan, like him for ages. Not since the old man. He’d been the last one.

It had been the old man who’d told him about the camps inside the walls. He said he’d been inside, that he’d escaped, he’d hidden between two fuel tanks on a grader or something.  It wasn’t like they cared if someone went out. If you went out, you’d die anyway. They were more worried about keeping people out, obviously. Of course they were.

He couldn’t do anything to keep these guys out. They’d made it to the old, high doors in front. Their shouting was louder; it was obvious that they’d figured he hadn’t anything to stop them with. If he had, he would have used it by now. He heard a couple of them laughing off to his side. A couple of things getting smashed.

He checked again. Still only three bullets. 

They’d kill him. Of course they would. The old man had told him what they doing to people inside the walls, and if they were doing that to them, then they certainly would just take him out. 

It was strange. He actually felt kind of calm. Like he wasn’t stressed about the whole thing. Almost as if now that it was actually really happening, he had stopped actually stressing, or panicking. It actually felt strange, like maybe there was something wrong with him, surely he should be panicking, but he wasn’t, even his breathing was normal. He wasn’t even really sweating.

He was glad that it was over actually. The old man had told him about the farms, he’d told him the stories of how they were killing everyone who was too old or too young to fight. Apparently they were keeping women, that made sense he supposed, but everyone was simply sorted and assigned. 

He said that they’d piled the dead into walls, trying to create more obstacles inside, trying to make sure the South would be split up, and slowed down when they eventually got through the walls. 

Because they would. Of course they’d get in. nothing was going to stop them.

They were moving through the chambers now. They’d gone quieter. They knew they’d find him soon. He was out of places to hide.

The gash through his leg was still bleeding. It was deep; he could see different coloured bits of flesh inside the cut. It had stiffened, and when he tried to move it, more blood started flowing out. His jeans were soaked through. It didn’t matter though.

He suddenly thought about putting the barrel against his head and doing it himself. Couldn’t see a reason not to. What was he waiting here for? Was he going to suddenly jump out and shoot everyone? No. he only had three bullets. Did he actually want to shoot any of them? No. he didn’t. It wasn’t their fault. They just happened to be part of something he wasn’t. Simple as that. He didn’t really believe in retribution, and even if he did, how did he know that these people had actually killed anyone? 

The war wasn’t their fault. They were in the same situation he was in. this was just their way of getting through it. Why should he jump out and start shooting at them? It wouldn’t make anything right, or better.

Gail and Simona were gone. Tammy and everyone else had died ages ago. He wasn’t hanging on to try save any one, or pull off some daring rescue mission. No, he was just trying to stay alive. And now, he didn’t see any point to it.

This war wasn’t his fight. Why the South had invaded, why Donaldson had torched the crops, the ships, none of it could be changed. He was simply just delaying the inevitable. Why did he need to take anyone with him? What would honestly be the purpose of trying to fight back here? He couldn’t go anywhere, and if he could, he wasn’t going to last long with his leg this bad. There were definitely more than three people moving through the church, he could hear that just by the voices, they were going to kill him anyway. So why wait?

So, he didn’t.

The End

This is a work of fiction. Any similarity to actual persons, living or dead, or actual events, is purely coincidental.

The author

Nick Miles is a Durban based writer, with a zany and distinctive writing style.

He lives with his partner Sarah and dog Nandi and Ginger cat.