My boots echoed down the slick mosaicked street and I kept my head down, trying to hide in my long black trench coat, the collar flipped up to hid my scaly neck, and I pulled down my black fedora. A soft mist hung over the colorful streets of Bearcaska and I felt like I was a specter haunting Terra before the sun rose. My clawed and scaled hands were in my pockets and my right hand rested heavily on my revolver. I walked passed opening shops and vast hand painted murals. The stone buildings of Bearcaska were either covered with well-trained ivy or trails of vines and flowers were carved across their faces with a firm and observant hand. There were small courtyards and statues of various old gods and legends between buildings and the lampposts were twisted and turned until they resembled falling water or thick trees.
I was purposing taking the long way to Monet Square-just in case. I honestly didn’t think the Shivians had any idea what was about to happen, but we had to be careful. I walked past the black metal gates that surrounded McKinstry’s park and stiffened when I saw two policemen headed my way. It did not matter if they were on the lookout for Killers or not, I was a wanted Killer and I could not afford to be delayed. Thankfully I reached the entrance of the park first and was able to slip inside without the police noticing. I did not even pause to let out a sigh of relief. I pulled my hat down even lower and pulled my collar up higher, before I lowered my head and walked down the cobbled pathway through the park. The garden was a perfect blend of artistry and natural beauty. The trees and bushes were given free rein as Shivians snuck in various statues and mosaicked stepping stones in between the branches. I could not fight a smile as I looked at the beautiful burst of color from the plants who refused to wither and die in the upcoming cold without one last fanfare of flowers and the leaves were bath in purple, red, and gold. It seemed so peaceful here. So quiet. I jumped as two squealing and laughing children ran past me and a breathless and harried Shivian woman chased after them. She did not give me a second glance as she tried to catch up with her children. I briefly thought of my parents. They would have skinned me alive for doing what I was about to do.
I continued to walk down the cobbled path and glanced up at the Watchmen Fountain. It was a showcase of architecture on the level of genius and only a true engineer could have made it stand. There was the typical base that was a pool and out of this pool burst forth an ornate pillar of waves and flames. Emerging out of this was the image of a falling angel, her hands thrown out to God, while, above, hovered a condemning angel. Water poured out of both angel’s eyes and mouths. I paused and stared at the falling angel’s face and watched her tears. I sighed and pulled away from the statue wondering if they would be willing to spare a few tears for us. I knew the Shivians would not and I knew they would not allow our own people to mourn us. We were terrorists. We did not deserve to live, not after the things we had done. What they failed to understand was whatever had happened yesterday and whatever happened today and whatever would happen tomorrow, the Shivians deserved.
I peered around the metal gate before walking down the mosaicked street. I nodded my head at a group of performing musicians before turning the corner and sighing as Monet Square came into view. It was now or never. I tightened my grip on my revolver and hesitated for a split second before walking towards the square. Many readers may not know this as the wall has since been demolished, but there had once been a mosaicked wall on the right hand side of the square. The wall had once depicted the battle of Kilkenny, the great battle that ended the 70 Year War, but the Shivians took it done after they took away our freedom and now it depicted an idyllic scene of the countryside. In the center of the square were four statues of famous Shivians arranged in the form of a diamond. The foremost figure was of Alfred Dejun, the Shivian victor of the 70 Year War and one of the originators of the 100 Year Peace between the Killers and Shivians. His Killer counterpart, Marcus Collins, used to be the statute to his right but the Shivians tore it down and replaced it with a statue of their most famous sculptor Donald Pleasant. The statue to Alfred’s left was one of their most famous painter Patrick McCann and the statue in the rear was one of their most famous poet James Kilcomack. The square was full of Shivians as traveling markets set up carts and sold their wares to Shivians passing by.
The other Killers jostled my shoulder and patted my back as I joined the crowd. I nodded my head and gave an encouraging word here and there. We had managed to gather an impressive crowd and I could feel how anxious and impatient they were. Siegfried was right. Enough was enough. I pushed my way through and ran into Sandie and…
She smiled bitter sweetly and nodded her head.
“What are you doing here?”
“I was going to attend with Ernest and now…”
I looked at Sandie who return my glance with a cold glare.
“Please tell me you’re armed.”
“Of course,” said Asia, revealing her revolver.
She grabbed my hand and gently squeezed it.
“It’s all right, Kingsley. It’s better this way.”
I stared at the siblings before I nodded my head and said, “Good luck.”
I stepped away and tried to find a good place to stand. I felt that my place was in the front standing next to Siegfried, the first to fall. As I pushed my way to the front, I saw Sean. My eyes widened as he extended his hand with a bitter smile.
“What are you doing here?” I asked, shaking his hand.
“”It’s my cause too, besides if we are to die, we might as well die together.”
We looked up as Siegfried climbed on top of the statue of Alfred Dejun and swung his fedora.
“Look at the Shivian hypocrisy! Their fake democracy! They won’t even let their wives vote, let alone their fellow Killers!”
The registration booth was in the corner facing Dejun’s statute. It was a wooden booth with two old men manning the station and the beginning of a line of Shivian males. The two old men shared concerned glances at our growing crowd. As Siegfried shouted, a few of the Shivian males turned to look at us.
I heard Asia’s voice shout, “No representation, no equality! That’s the Shivian way!”
This was quickly picked up by the crowd and many Shivians stopped in their tracks to stare at us.
“No representation, no equality! That’s the Shivian way!”
Many Shivians tried to ignore us and they filled out the forms as fast as possible before running away. Our group was quite large now, taking up half the square, and the two old men manning the station were visibly sweating. Siegfried hopped off the statue and accosted a fleeing Shivian who had just registered to vote.
“Tell me, Shivian, how does it feel knowing you have a say in how your life is run?”
The Shivian shook his head as Siegfried moved to the next Shivian while our group shouted, “No representation, no equality! That’s the Shivian way!” to the fleeing Shivian.
“To have a say in who taxes you?”
He moved onto the next Shivian as we hooted and hollered.
“How does it feel being able to walk down the street without being beaten by the police?”
One of the old men feebly walked towards Siegfried and said, “Please, go home. We can’t help you.”
“Can’t or won’t?” sneered Siegfried.
“You gain nothing by doing this,” said the old man, looking at us, “And these men cannot help you. They are just exercising their rights.”
“Rights that we do not have,” said Siegfried, walking into the middle of the street, “Rights taken from us!”
The Shivians watched him uncertainly as I climbed on top of the statute of Donald Pleasant and shouted, “Return the rights you have stolen!”
The group caught the chant and now the air was punctuated by both mottos. Siegfried grinned and turned to face the shaking old man.
“Looks like we’re going nowhere.”
The old man wrung his hands before scurrying behind the registration booth. The line of Shivians males had thinned, but there were still a few determined to ignore us. One of the old men slipped a note to one of the younger Shivians and whispered something in his ear. The Shivian nodded his head and took off in a sprint. I shared a glance with Siegfried as other Killers from the group started to accost Shivians fleeing from the square and others continued to shout their mottos. The merchants abandoned their carts and ran into buildings in an attempt to hide from the storm that was about to be unleashed.
The air was hot and heavy, only adding to their fire. While we did not hurt any of the Shivians, we pushed them around a little and blocked their way, forcing the Shivians to walk around in circles while Gary shouted, “End the oppression. Free the Killers!” and Siegfried picked up the chant, “No representation, no equality! That is the Shivian way” and I continued to lead, “Return the rights you have stolen!” It resulted in a wild cacophony that seemed to scare the Shivians more than being accosted did. The old men shooed the Shivians away and were about to close up shop when Siegfried, Sandie, and Asia approached the booth and took a number of forms. They grabbed the forms as the old men protested and threw the pieces of paper into the air.
“Here, brothers!” shouted Siegfried, “Take back your rights! Let’s vote these bastards out!”
One of the older men ran out and grabbed Siegfried’s arm, “Please, stop this.”
“Good home,” said Siegfried wrenching his arm form the old man’s grip, “You’ve done your duty. Get away while you still can.”
The old man fell away as Siegfried threw more forms into the air. Some Killers caught the forms, but others just laughed and continued to shout.
“Siegfried!” I shouted, pointing in front of us.
Siegfried turned around and smiled as Shivian police rushed the area. They hid behind corners of buildings and some threw themselves behind the voter registration booth as the two old men ran away. Siegfried quieted the group as a police officer approached us, bullhorn in his hand.
“We want to handle this as peacefully and quietly as possible,” he called through the bullhorn, “If you clear out in five minutes there will be no arrests and everyone can just go back to their business. However, if you force our hands, we will disperse you any way possible.”
Siegfried smiled and looked at us while we shouted various insults such as, “Go home to catch your wife with the butcher!” “Damn McAlister and his thieving dogs!” “Go to Hell” and many other derogative terms. The police officer grimaced.
“You’ve made your point. Disperse. We don’t want any trouble.”
“Then you shouldn’t have taken our rights away,” shouted Siegfried, inspiring another chorus of “No representation, no equality! That is the Shivian way!”
“This is your last warning. Disperse now or we will be forced to disperse you ourselves.”
The crowd laughed and continued to shout and jeer as I slowly reached for my revolver. I jumped off the statute as Siegfried climbed on top of Dejun’s statue and shouted, “Go to your murderous leaders and tell them we stand, and will continue to stand here, until we’ve been given back our rights! We stand for the fallen at Trippe, for Collins and the leaders of ’29, and for the future Killers to come!”
The crowd cheered as the police officer sighed and returned to his men. Sandie, Sean, and I shouted, “Get ready boys!” as we pulled out our revolvers and Siegfried continued to stand on the statue and shouted, “Stand, boys, stand for all who came before us and all who will come after!”
The crowd shouted their mottos as the police officers ordered their men to load. I tightened my grip on my revolver.
The police raised their rifles.
“This is the last chance, Killers!” shouted the police officer, “Disperse now or we will be forced to fire.”
“Go to Hell you, cowards! We know right is on our side!” shouted Siegfried.
“Collins lives!” shouted Siegfried as the air was rent with gunfire.
We threw ourselves behind the base of the statues as others threw themselves behind buildings and some tipped over food carts to hide behind. I flinched as a bullet flew too close for comfort. The police officer ordered a ceasefire as smoke floated through the air and revealed a few Killer bodies. Thankfully only two were dead, the others were wounded but they were able to slowly crawl to shelter. Somewhat, despite standing on the statue, Siegfried had managed to survive and he was now hiding behind the statue, revolver in hand. We remained in our hiding places while the police officer stepped forward, pulled out his bullhorn, and shouted, “All right, now come out quietly! We don’t want any more dead.”
Siegfried replied by taking a potshot at the police officer. The police officer swore and returned to his men, who opened fire. Siegfried hid behind his statue and we hugged our hiding places until they paused to reload. I, along with many other Killers, peered around our hiding places and fired. The Shivians were focused just ahead of us and they had turned over carts to hide behind. The few who were not hiding behind carts were either hiding behind buildings or were trying to break into other buildings and climb to the top windows. I pulled away and told Sean, “Aim for the windows. We’re going to have snipers up there soon.”
Sean nodded his head and fired once more. The Shivians in the surrounding buildings on our side of the square locked their doors, closed their windows, and shop owners turned over the open signs so they rad they were closed. There was one poor Shivian who had been making a delivery when the trouble started. As soon as the police started firing, he ran into a shop, leaving his horse and carriage unattended. While Sandie and Asia covered him, Gary and two other Killers ran to the carriage, drove it closer to our position, cut the horse loose, and tipped the carriage over. Many Killers ran from their hiding places and hid behind the carriage. Siegfried smiled at Gary’s ingenuity and shouted in the midst of gunfire, “Make Collins and the leaders of ’28 proud!”
He climbed to the front of the statue and fired his revolver. The Shivians returned fire and the square turned into nothing but swirling smoke and gunfire as bullets clipped buildings and shattered windows. I jumped back as a bullet clipped the base of the statue I was hiding behind and Sean aimed at a Shivian in a window.
“You all right?” I shouted as I reloaded my revolver.
“I missed,” said Sean, taking aim once more.
I exhaled humorously as I cocked my revolver and peered around the base of the statue and fired. A young Shivian spat out blood before he laid over the carriage he had been hiding behind. I drew back as Sean fired once more.
“I think I got him.”
Sean jumped as a bullet came too close to home and he swore.
I turned my head and saw Shivians hugging the buildings as they inched their way around us, trying to box us in so we would be easier to round up. I aimed around Sean and fired. Gary must have noticed the encroaching Shivians because the carriage exploded in puffs of smoke and flashes of gunpowder. The Shivians retreated, but we both knew they would come back again.
“Keep an eye on that,” I told Sean.
He nodded his head as he fired at another Shivian.
I peered around the corner as Siegfried fired another shot and gave a shout as he killed a Shivian. I shook my head as I aimed at another Shivian. There was a sharp crack as Siegfried fired once more. Smoke swirled around him and I thought I saw a splash of blood as his body jerked. I fired my revolver and watched as he grabbed upon the statue of DeJun and raised his revolver. There was a sharp crack, but I do not think it was his gun that went off. His hand fell to his side and he hung halfway off the statue, blooding running down the front of his shirt. I forced myself to pull back as I reloaded my revolver. When I peered around the base of the statute again I watched as his body jerked and he let go of the statue. He tumbled to the ground, blood dotting the swirl smoke as he landed face up onto the cobbled road with a sickening thud, blood oozing onto the wet stones, his revolver still in his hand, his eyes staring into the sky. My breath was caught in my throat as I stared at Siegfried’s lifeless body, his blood dripping from his half opened mouth and his wounds. Rifle fire crackled around me, but I hardly noticed as I continued to watch my cousin lay on the ground, half expecting him to rise and laugh it off.
I had half a mind to run to my cousin’s aid. I grabbed the edge of the base and almost took off when I felt a hand on my arm.
I turned around and was face to face with Sandie.
“I want you and Sean to cover me. I’m going to take Siegfried’s place. Once I’m there, send up Sean. Asia will take his place here.”
I stared at him and I wanted to say, “It should be me”, but my voice was caught in my throat. I simply nodded my head and peered around the base of the statue. Sandie patted my shoulder before running towards Siegfried’s statue. Sean and I opened fire as Sandie ducked and dodged his way towards Siegfried’s original position. He threw himself behind the statue and nodded his head. I pulled back and tapped Sean on the arm. He gulped and patted my shoulder before making a run for it. I quickly reloaded before peering around my hiding place and fired. I nearly jumped as Asia threw herself next to me.
“We’re being flanked!” she shouted, as I continued to protect Sean, “Gary is trying to handle it, but we need more men here.”
I swore as Sean fell to the ground.
“Damn it!” I pulled back to reload.
“Sean’s down,” I said.
Asia grabbed my arm and said, “Leave him. Either he’s dead or my brother will take care of him. We need to concentrate on our flank.”
I gritted my teeth, but could not argue with her logic. Swearing under my breath, I cocked my revolver and aimed around Asia at a number of Shivians trying to flank us. Our entire left side opened in fire. The Shivians staggered, but did not retreat. We fired again and again the Shivians wavered. They threw themselves behind pillars and behind bodies of their dead comrades and returned fire. Asia screamed and I pulled her behind me. I fired once more, before turning to face Asia.
“Are you all right?” I asked as a bullet clipped the base of the statue.
“Yeah, it’s just an arm,” she said, looking at her blood drenched arm.
I tore a piece of my shirt and wrapped it around the wound.
“What are you doing?” she snapped.
“What does it look like?”
“Stop it!” she said wrenching her arm away from me, “I don’t want your help! I don’t want it! Don’t you understand?!”
Tears ran down her face and she held her wounded arm to her chest.
“Yes, I understand.”
She looked at me and gasped.
“Kingsley!” she shouted, pointing behind me.
I turned around and swore. I saw five Shivians abreast marching forward, a long sheet of metal in front of them. They would stop every five feet to fire before picking up the metal sheet again and continued forward. They could not walk very quickly, but the metal sheet deflected the bullets.
“We’ll have to pull back,” I said, “We can’t fight off their armored squads.”
She nodded her head.
“Run, I’ll cover you,” I said as Gary opened fire on the armored Shivians, “Run to Patrick’s statue. I’ll be right behind you.”
She nodded her head and peered around the corner. I reloaded my revolver and peered with her.
She sprinted across the square as I provided suppressive fire. Smoke floated around me, stinging my nostrils and it was almost as if we were fighting in the clouds. I swore as I pulled back to reload. Asia was halfway there…just a few more feet. I had just finished reloading when I heard a blood freezing scream. I looked to my left and saw Asia’s body lying on the cobbled road, her blood splattered across the ground.
I peered around the corner and fired at another Shivian when I saw Sandie leaning against the base of his statue. Blood was gushing out of his mouth and Sean was looking at a wound in his stomach. He faintly shook his head and Sean rose. I fired my revolver and jumped when a bullet grazed my arm. I turned around and saw that the armored Shivians were still there. I had no choice. I had to run. I opened my revolver and saw that I had four shots left. All right. I closed my revolver and prepared to make a run for it when I saw Asia painfully push herself up. She got to her feet and ran, bullets flying around her. Blood gushed into the air as a bullet hit her shoulder. She screamed and tumbled, but didn’t fall. She kept running. ”Run, Asia,” I thought before I sprinted towards Sandie and Sean. I fired my remaining bullets at the Shivians and threw myself behind Sean’s statue. Sandie’s still warm body leant against the base of the statue as Sean fired at the Shivians. His blood ran down his body and formed a pool around him. His droopy eyes were wide open and stared at a spot far behind me while blood gathered at the corners of his snout. I felt for his pulse and slammed my free hand against the base of the statue.
“God damn it!”
We heard a scream and I only assumed it was Asia.
“We need to get out of here,” said Sean, firing his last shot.
I nodded my head as the armored Shivians drove Gary from his carriage.
“Can you walk?” I asked.
Sean showed me his bloody, poorly bandaged knee and shook his head.
“All right,” I said, reloading my revolver, bullets clipping at the statue.
“You should leave me.”
I looked at him and shook my head.
“No, here you take this,” I said forcing my revolver into his hand, “You’re going to provide us cover. Now come here.”
I draped Sean’s arm over my neck.
“As I’ll ever be.”
I took off at a run, ducking as bullets flew around us. We jumped over dead and wounded Killers. Sean fired my revolver until he ran out of bullets. We ran pass the statue of Patrick and we saw Asia’s body pinned to the mosaicked wall, her arms outstretched as if she was about to fly away from Monet’s Square and her blood splashed against the mosaic picture, adding an element of horror to the idyllic scene. I hissed as a bullet grazed my arm and Sean groaned and nearly took me to the ground as he tumbled.
“Sean!” I panted as we threw ourselves around Patrick’s statue, Asia’s body directly in front of us.
I placed Sean down and saw a bullet lodged in his back. He grabbed my arm and wheezed, “Leave me.”
We both ducked as bullets flew around us.
I stared at him before gulping. I grabbed his arms and swung him over my back. I looked to my right and knew running in that direction would be like walking into a death trap. I looked to my left and noticed that there were a number of buildings. If we could reach one of the houses, we could either create a hostage situation or try and exit through one of the backdoors. It was a small chance, but it was still a chance. I flinched as a bullet whizzed by my head. It was now or never. I rose with a groan and ran forward. Bullets whizzed past my ear and Sean grunted, but I couldn’t stop to see if he was all right. Couldn’t stop now. Sean rested his snout against my neck and I could barely feel his breathe. Come on, Sean, hold on . I swore as two Shivians jumped out in front of us. There was only one option now. Tightening my grip on Sean, I rammed into a Shivian who was loading a rifle. The Shivian groaned as he was rammed into the wall and dropped his rifle. I inadvertently dropped Sean, but I had more to worry about at the moment. I kneed the police officer in the stomach and watched him fall, before turning around to find Sean. However, the Shivian grabbed my ankle and I fell. I growled as I kicked at the Shivian who refused to let me escape. I grabbed a revolver that had somehow been left on the floor and held it so resembled a club and bashed the Shivian in the head. The Shivian groaned, but still refused to let go. I raised my revolver and hit the Shivian in head repeatedly until it was nothing but brains and blood. I rose, warm blood sprayed on my face, and ooafed as another Shivian tackled me to the ground, knocking my revolver out of my hands. The Shivian had also lost his gun so he drew a knife. My eyes widened as I grabbed the Shivian’s wrist with one hand and grabbed the Shivian’s neck with the other hand. I squeezed, sinking my claws into the Shivian’s neck as the Shivian brought the knife closer and closer to my face. I gritted my teeth and let go of the Shivian’s neck only to jab into it just as the Shivian slammed his hand into my inner elbow, causing my arm to bend on itself and the Shivian to choke. I screamed as the knife cut down my face and across my left eye, blood gushing everywhere, blinding me. I heard a sharp crack and the Shivian slumped on top of me. I wiped the blood away as someone moved the body off of me.
“Let’s get the hell out of here,” said a bloody Gary, offering me a hand.
I took it and jumped up. I could only see out of my right eye at the moment and it took all of my will power not to cry because of the pain, but that was the least of my concerns.
“Through here!” said Gary, pointing towards what looked like a hardware store.
I nodded my head and tried to find Sean.
“Kingsley, come on!”
I was about to answer when I heard a series of cracks and Gary fell on top of me, nearly taking me to the ground. Blood ran out of Gary’s mouth and down his back. I took his revolver and dumped the body on the ground before kicking down the door and running into the Shivian building. It was a cramp hardware store and I barely missed a hammer to the head as the old Shivian who owned the store jumped up from the counter. His son appeared from the counter and restrained his father.
“Get out of here you, god damn lizard!” shouted the old man as the young Shivian pleaded, “Please, just leave.”
I threw myself behind one of the work benches as the Shivians sprayed the store with bullets. The old Shivian and his son ducked behind the counter. I blindly fired at the Shivians before running towards the counter. I threw myself behind it and grabbed the shirt of the young Shivian.
“Back exit, where?!”
I pointed my revolver at the old man who had grabbed a wrench.
“Don’t even think about it.”
We flinched as we were sprayed with splinters.
“Just around the corner, down the hall,” sputtered the young Shivian.
I let go of the young Shivian’s shirt and ran down the hall, hissing as a bullet grazed my right arm. I broke open the door and ran into the alleyway, the Shivian police close behind. I didn’t even check to see if the coast was clear. I ran across the street, nearly colliding with a carriage, and down another alleyway. I ran across a puddle, splashing a sleeping homeless man before turning the corner and found myself facing the metal gate that surrounded McKinstry’s garden. I glanced down the street before taking a right and was thankful to run into a large fair.
Of course my appearance drew stares and some women screamed, but I ignored them. I pushed my way into the crowd, knocking over displays and people. I ran into another alleyway and skidded to a halt when I saw a dirty window on ground level. I looked behind me and was grateful to see that the Shivian people had lost my trail, but I wasn’t going to take any chances. I kicked at the window, breaking the glass, and slid in. I landed on a dusty workbench. I hopped off and hid in the shadows, holding my breath, my revolver at the ready, and keeping my ears open for any sound of the police. I do not know how long I waited in the dark, blood dripping down my face, my eye stinging in unbelievable pain, but, after what seemed like days, I let out a sigh of relief and collapsed onto the floor. I placed my revolver on the floor and painfully brought my hand to my eye and hissed. Shit. I ripped off a piece of my shirt and put it to my eye in an attempt to stop the bleeding, but only ended up increasing the pain. God damn it. I stiffened as the door opened and someone crept down the stairs. I threw myself deeper into the shadows and watched an elderly woman followed by a cat with a belt tied to its neck. She was carrying a candle and held it over her head.
I held my breath and slowly reached for my revolver. The woman quickly looked around before turning to walk up the stairs and I was about let out a sigh of relief when her damn cat walked up to my boots and meowed. The old woman stopped with her hand on the rail and looked across the basement once more.
“What is it, Max? What’s wrong?”
The cat meow again and rubbed against my boots. I silently swore as I rolled my eyes and tried to kick the cat away.
“Max? What have you found?” asked the woman walking into the basement.
God damn cat! I slowly reached for my revolver and accidently brushed my hand against the cat’s bell.
“Max?” asked the old woman walking closer and closer to me.
I wrapped my fingers around the revolver and slowly rose as the old woman was mere inches away. I grabbed the woman, threw her to the wall-knocking the candle out of her hand and snuffing the candle-and put my clawed, bloodied hand over her mouth and shoved the revolver into her gut.
“You scream and I will shoot you,” I snarled.
Her eyes widened as she barely nodded her head. I slowly let go of her mouth, but kept my revolver in her stomach.
“Are you the only one in the house?”
I sighed as I felt light headed.
“You’re hurt,” said the old woman.
“No, let me look at it.”
I stared at her and said, “How do I know I can trust you?”
“You have Max,” said the old woman pointing at her cat, “I won’t betray you as long as you promise not to hurt my kitten.”
I stared at her for a few minutes before sighing, “Fine.”
I lowered the revolver and the old woman said, “I am going to go upstairs and get a bowl of water and a few napkins. I might even have a few bandages.”
I nodded my head and she slowly walked away. I waited until she was up the stairs before leaning against the wall and sliding to the floor. The stupid cat licked my clawed finger and climbing into my lap. I shook my head and stroked the cat’s body.
“You’re probably going to get me killed, you stupid thing.”
The cat cuddled in my lap. I jerked my head up and tightened the grip on my revolver as the old woman walked down the stairs. She placed the bowl of water and napkins on the floor and took out a box of matches. She right sided the candle, struck the match, and lit the candle. She lifted the candle up and looked me over.
“Aw, your face!”
She grabbed a napkin and dipped it into the water before gently dabbling it on my face. I hissed.
“You were at Monet Square, weren’t you?”
“Yes, I was.”
The woman dipped the napkin in the water again.
“Why do you do it?”
“What would you do if someone took your freedom away?” I asked as the woman gently washed the blood away.
“Must you kill your own youth to gain it?”
“How else are we to win it back?”
The woman shook her head as she dipping the napkin in water again.
“I had two sons,” she said, “One was killed by the bomb planted in the archives in 1927 and the other was killed leading a raid in the Shivian Hills.”
I frowned and my hand inched towards the revolver.
“But I don’t hate,” she said, throwing the bloody napkin to the floor and grabbing a fresh one, “And I don’t blame. I understand. What we did and do to your kind is wrong, but your kind is just as wrong. You cannot expect to win your freedom if you slaughter our sons.”
“Tell me how you would do it,” I said, wincing as she cleaned out my eye, “How would you break away from a country that refuses to give you the freedom you deserve?”
The old woman sighed.
“I guess I don’t know. I am old woman whose only friend is my cat and I won’t pretend that I know anything about politics, but I know right and I know wrong and I like to think that there will be a day when young men won’t have to die just so others can breathe as free men.”
“I do too,” I sighed, allowing her to tilt my head up so she could get a better look at my injury.
“They got you bad,” she said, “And I don’t think there is much else I can do. I’m not a doctor.”
“Just do what you can.”
The old woman grabbed a clean napkin and pressed it against my cut, causing me to groan.
“I’m sorry, but I have to stop the bleeding.”
“It’s fine,” I said as Max rubbed his head against my hand.
The woman continued to put pressure on the wound as I stared at her with my good eye. She had long grey hair that was tied from her face with a head band, her face was nothing but vast caverns of wrinkles, and her searching green eyes were strong.
“Why are you doing this?” I asked, “Why are you helping me?”
“Well you have my cat,” she smiled.
The woman gently lifted the napkin and sighed as my wounded started to bleed again.
“Honestly,” she said pressing on my wound, “Not all Shivians are cruel. I hope you remember that when you return to your boys and you start another protest.”
I smiled slightly as she gently removed the napkin.
“Ah, there we go. Now I don’t have bandages, but I have mixed linen that I don’t need anymore. If you could help me tear it I can tie it around your eye.”
I took the linen and tore it into strips as the old woman rested the candle on the floor.
“I am sorry about your sons.”
“It is the nature of the world we live in,” she sighed, gently wrapping the strip of linen around my head.
I looked down at Max and scratched the cat behind the ears. She wrapped the linen two more times around my head before tying it.
“It’s not great, but it will have to do.”
“I can get a doctor-”
“No!” I said, tightening my grip on my revolver again, “No one can know that I am here.”
I loosened my grip, but I kept my hand on the revolver.
“Are you hungry? I have a few scraps left over from dinner.”
“Yes, thank you.”
The old woman nodded her head before gingerly rising.
“I’ll be right back.”
I stroked Max’s head and sighed.