Thomas had stayed concealed from the enemy for the past three months in a small hideaway under the concrete slabs of a fallen building.
It was dry and warm and the soldiers never found him. At nights, he’d sneak out to set explosive traps, and search for food and supplies in the surrounding houses.
But all that changed when two days ago, he’d heard the news on the radio. The war was over and the allies had won. The enemy was to lay down their weapons and surrender. Coalition forces were already moving across the land and restoring order.
At first, Thomas was wary that it was a trick. A way to lure the ones left in the city out of hiding. But as each day passed and there were no longer the explosions or gunfire echoing in the distance, he grew cautiously optimistic.
When he work this morning, he decided it was time to crawl out of the safety of his shelter and see if the rumours were true.
Climbing out into the bright sunlight hurt his eyes, but it felt good on his skin. It’d been so long since he’d been out during the day. Unfortunately, he wouldn’t get far until his eyes adjusted, so he leaned against a burned out car near the entrance of his refuge.
“Let me see your papers,” a voice called out. Thomas couldn’t see the man who’d said it, but he knew the tone.
“The war is over,” Thomas stated.
“It is, is it?” the man answered. Thomas could barely see the man’s outline before him. There was a rifle sat in the crook of the man’s arm.
“Yes, I heard it on the radio.”
“Ah, I see. And you believe it?” the soldier asked.
“Why wouldn’t I? They said both sides agreed to the surrender.”
“Of course the politicians would say that.” Thomas suddenly felt uneasy in his stomach. “But they don’t speak for us. They’re not our true leader.”
Thomas still couldn’t see the soldier, but he didn’t need to. The man holding the gun was a fanatic, talking about a leader that hadn’t been seen in years. Most believed he’d died in battle, but others—the fanatics—said he had gone into safe harbour from the forces that had tried to oust him.
Either way, it didn’t stop men like the soldier from continuing to follow him.
“Where are your papers?” the soldier repeated, his voice tight like a elastic ready to snap.
“I don’t have them.”
“Why not? You aren’t supposed to be on the streets without them.”
“I came out only for a second—“
“Doesn’t matter. You’re always supposed to have your papers.”
“Let me get them—“
“They’re just inside—“
“Stop—“ He lifted his old rifle and Thomas froze. The soldier moved towards him. “You’ll come with—“
The trap at the man’s feet exploded, tossing him like a rag-doll across the street. Dirt and debris struck Thomas, the noise deafening him, but he knew he was safe, far enough away to survive.
He walked to the soldier, who was horrible wound and barely alive. The man struggled to breathe and Thomas knew there would be no finality to this war. The beliefs were too deep and whatever truths were fought for would always be discounted.
He drew a small pistol from the back of his belt and put the man out of his misery, before climbing back into the sanctuary of his hideaway.
Thank you so much for reading.
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