Previous Challenge Entry (Level 4 – Masters)
Topic: Love (04/27/06)
TITLE: The Weapon
By Melanie Kerr
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His eyes took in the desolate landscape. A red hue cast by burning flames flushed the sky the colour of rust. An acrid smell clung to the air, while gossamer tendrils of black smoke stroked his shoulders. He could feel the blistering heat from burning embers pricking the skin at the back of his neck. The mute silence was broken by distant weeping.
"What are we going to do now?" He could feel the anxious fingers of his companion grasping and pawing at his sleeve. He ignored him as he continued his examination of the damage. So much would need to be rebuilt, but the scars would always be there.
The force of the attack had been surprising. The weapon was far more powerful than their intelligence had led them to believe. They had all been so unprepared. Devastation carved up their land with one unexpected stroke.
"We got it all wrong, didn't we? We just read the enemy so wrong. We should have known that they wouldn't play by the book, shouldn't we?" He ignored the whining tones of his companion, agitated and hopping nervously by his side, and kept scanning the debris looking for survivors.
"What if they come back?" His comrade stopped, immobilised by dread. The whispered question stank of fear.
"Of course they'll come back!" he snapped. The enemy's victory had been so much more than complete. There was nothing to stop them from walking in and plundering the city when ever they wished. The weapon had seen to that. They had no defences that would work against it, and all attempts to sabotage it had failed.
The last three years of the battle had been severe. Victories had been few and far between as they lost precious ground. They had been falling back and retreating, surrendering strongholds to the enemy on an almost daily basis. All their fire had been concentrated in one last onslaught, so convinced were they that they could take out the enemy's weapon. They had come very close to bringing the conflict to a victorious finish.
"No," he sighed, trapped in a rare moment of honesty, "We never came close to victory. We never have"
A small white flower, lightly dusted with ash, thrust its way between the broken flagstones. Its head was titled towards a single shaft of light that penetrated through the red tinged clouds. He was aware of tiny hint of a delicate fragrance. He examined the flower for a moment before bringing his foot down and firmly stamping on it.
Lucifer would start rebuilding tomorrow. His kingdom had been plundered by a strong man. He could still feel the humiliation as he was forced to surrender his keys. He could only watch powerless as souls he had held in his grasp for centuries were released. His ears still stung with their singing as the enemy's weapon - a man with love-scarred palms - led them out of Hell.
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