knife was deep in his belly. His eyes were wide. She pressed her body closer to
his, twisted the blade, and his dying breath warmed her face.
pulled out the blade and stepped back, but the body just slumped against The
Tree. The others had been swallowed by the trunk as soon as she spilled their
lives. “Why are you still here?” she said to the corpse.
must open him for me, Victoria,
a gleeful voice whispered into her mind.
stared at the bloodied blade in her hand, and said, “I just did that.” She knew
that letting her temper taint her tone was a mistake, but she couldn’t stop it.
“What else do you want from me?”
want his blood, his flesh and his bones, my Victoria.
for The Tree was the only way she knew to hold on to her memories and save her
friends. Because of it, she had learned not to dwell too much on the death of
anyone who had tried to kill her first. Killing to survive felt fair; still,
some lines couldn’t be crossed without losing one’s self. So, she made her
choice: she would give up her old life, her home, her grandmother’s smile… but
she would keep what was left of her humanity.
name is not Victoria,” she said to The Tree. “And I’m not your
She sheathed the blade in her boot, and dragged the man away from The Tree. “All wars suck,” she said to the body, as she covered it with leaves. “I am done.”
maybe lifetimes) later she found
herself in the woods, standing in front of a mound of dry leaves covered in
wildflowers. But she couldn’t remember why. A tree, its trunk depicting
faces screaming in agony, grew crooked by the side of a bright trail.
She knew nothing about the place or herself, but walking
away from the tree felt right.
War, by Leila Bibizadeh
- partly inspired by this quote, from Terry Pratchett’s Monstrous Regiment: “Perhaps that’s why men did it. You didn’t do it to save duchesses, or countries. You killed the enemy to stop him killing your mates, that they in turn might save you…”
- for Poets and Storytellers United--Weekly Scribblings #82: “War is over! If you want it.” and Writers’ Pantry #83: It’s Spooky Time Somewhere.