Fierce winds buffeted around Sarah and she struggled to keep her hair at bay, her clothes were pushed against her back and she could hear her husband’s raincape flapping a couple steps behind. She stopped at the cliff’s edge, stared at the valley below.
Two hundred balagdan crowded in the center of the village, hugging each other. Sarah could not see their faces from up here, but that was not mercy. No, she did not want to shy away from what they were about to do. They had to look at their eyes as they killed them. Yet that had been taken away from her.
For what? For not wanting to wield their own land to invaders from another world. Whatever entity had fashioned the Gate, Sarah was sure it was not benign.
“How can you do this?” she asked between sobs and was not sure he could hear.
The footstep stopped. “I don’t like it either love, but they were orders.”
“Why didn’t you tell me?”
“Because you would have been down there with them if I told you.”
Yes, you do know me. “Would you do it?”
No answer came. She turned to face him, “Would you do it? If I was down there?”
“Me? No. But they would, and I would not have left you alone. We would both have died for nothing.”
“Nothing?! Saving two hundred innocents is nothing?”
Larry munched on something. “Trying to save them and dying in the process would do nothing.”
“Not trying achieves nothing.”
“It keeps us alive.”
Sarah held back a laugh. She couldn’t believe what he was saying. “Is that all that matters? To stay alive while others die because of us?”
“God, woman, killing two hundred or two hundred and two is the same thing. They would probably scrape our nomes off and say we disappeared anyway. You want to start a revolution? Against the army? Armies? Governments?”
Sarah held her hands up against her face to hide her weeping. “We’re killing them because they are different.”
“Because they refused to trade and tried to drive us off of their lands.”
“Are they wrong? We’re invaders, damn you. Colonialists, expansionists.”
Larry took a step closer, through the gaps between her fingers she could see his face filled with contempt. “I know just as well how awful everything we’re doing here is. That doesn’t mean we have to throw our lives away. I was one of the kids who crawled my way out of a collapsed building and you know that,” he stopped and opened his arms to encompass their surroundings. “Why are you telling me all of this?”
“Because I can’t do this anymore.”
His eyes thinned, then whidenned with comprehension. “You—”
“I was the one to make first contact, Larry. They accepted me into their lands, their homes. They gave me a name. Was all of this planned? Was I the bait? So we could claim their land and their resources?” She pointed to the balagdan huddled in the valley. “Their skin is blue and they look like ogres, but they are people. What do you think is going through their heads now? Looking up and seeing me? They are cursing me, Larry.”
“Surely you don’t think their—”
“They expect me to do this again! To travel around meeting the people of this world so we can steal away everything they have” We don’t even acknowledge their world has a name. We call it The Other Side.”
“My patience is low, Sarah. Come back. Don’t make me drag you to the camp.”
Oh, husband, you dug your way out of the dirt and now you don’t even think about the ones still down there. You became a coward.
With one fluid motion she took her wedding ring out and threw it at his feet.
Larry stared down and she was half expecting him to lash out, to strike her. Instead, his mouth thinned as he fought back tears.
“Make me the villain if it helps you.” Sarah then took the pin from her uniform that identified her as part of the Horren Army and dropped it close to the ring. “We’re done.”
He made no move to follow her as she strode towards the camp. Feeling sick, dirty, holding her belly in anticipation, Sarah wanted to scream. She was planning on telling him today. She had gone through rituals with the balagdan the day before and they assured her the child was a girl and her aspect was to bind things together. It had been wishful thinking of her to expect it had anything to do with their marriage.
Sarah knew for a fact her days were counted. The entity in the Gate counted down every time she went through it and not once had Larry or anyone else heard about this. Whatever little time she had left was for her child. Her girl.
Her first and last one.
The sounds of the shots found their way up the valley and to her ears.
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