Thursday, November 1, 2012
Posted by Jonathan Martin
The column of troops stretched out before Graham, disappearing around a bend some hundred meters behind him. He smiled, his dry lips cracking against the movement. Tendrils of acrid smoke rose from a nearby synagogue, the flames still licking at the structure. He motioned to his torchbearers, dismissing them with a wave of his hand and watched as they rejoined the ranks of his army.
“Sir, if we stop to burn every…” A look of deep thought crossed Davey Boy’s mind, “House of worship we pass,” he finally put the words together, “It will take us forever to reach New Mexico.”
Graham raised his hand, as if to backhand the man standing before him, but stayed it. “This war is about more than just killing.”
A look of disgust crossed Davey’s face. “It’s just, some of my men are complaining, you know. This is not what they signed up for. I get it if there are people inside, but just destroying a Church because it’s a Church seems…” His head snapped to the side as Graham let fly his hand.
“They are the refuge of the enemy. We shall not leave hope standing.”
Davey spat, his saliva mixed with blood. “Yes sir.” He said, turning his back on Graham and walking away.
Graham shifted his sight into a nearby woman, watching Davey as the man walked away, kicking a stone. He shifted again as the man walked out of the woman’s visual range. He followed Davey, shifting twice more, until Davey was standing amongst the other Gargoyles, grumbling. Graham decided the gang of former bikers would bear watching, now that they were over a hundred strong, not one of them under his direct control.
Graham sighed as his focus again returned to him, and to the army before him. He watched as the flames of his torchbearers disappeared out of sight.
Three hours later, another building, an old wood panel Baptist church, was burning as well. And two hours after that, the torches were set to a Lutheran church. It was beside this holy site that Graham called for his army to camp, the glow from the flames dancing in his eyes. Davey had not troubled him again, but had made a show of not participating in either of the afternoons activities, keeping the Gargoyles at bay. He waited until he was sure the man and his fellows were asleep before marching into their corner of the encampment. He kicked the thick man between the shoulder blades, causing Davey’s back to arch involuntarily.
“Who in the God damned sonofa bi…” he began as he rolled over, and caught the look on Graham’s face.
“If you don’t want to be part of my army Davey, by all means, leave.” Graham told him as he rolled to his knees and tried to stand.
“And if we do leave?” Davey made it to his feet, and puffed out his chest. He could hear his companions stirring about him.
“What’s going on Davey?” Came a female voice from nearby.
“Shh,” Was all that Davey said, waiting for Graham’s reaction.
Graham laughed, holding his hands out wide. “Depends on your course of action.”
Davey looked around, his eyes trying to adjust to the darkness. A lump grew in his throat as he realized that him and his men were surrounded by the rest of Graham’s army. “We’ll stay,” Davey said, swallowing his pride.
“Good.” Graham turned away, took three steps toward his troops, and turned back. “We’re break camp at dawn.”
“Yes sir,” Davey said half heartedly. “You heard him, back to sleep, we leave at dawn,” He said loud enough for all of the Gargoyles to hear. He lay back down and sighed.
Graham walked out of the camp, wandering the small town, walking past the toppled neon ‘Drive In’ sign. He heard noise within the structure and peered in a cracked window. Three large dogs were gnawing on the corpse of a rather corpulent man within. Graham smiled and moved on. Main street was pocked with small craters, the remains of sedans and SUV’s littering both sides of the road. He walked out past the statue of the man upon a horse, the remains of the placard saying ‘Genera,’ the rest having been destroyed by a vehicle that had strayed too close during his opening salvo. He was looking for one house in particular, an old, one story, red brick house. It had been calling to him for the last three days, causing him to alter his armies course slightly.
He turned down the next right. The street was lined with old cars, a few up on cement blocks, and even older trees. A glimpse of an older time flashed before his eyes, a blonde girl in pigtails riding a tricycle and squealing with glee. An equally blonde boy walking along the side of the road, a baseball bat and glove hung over his right shoulder, cleated feet kicking the rocks before him.
Graham closed his eyes and shook his head. When he opened them again, the red brick house sat squat before him, back a hundred feet from the curb, the shutters on the lone front window nailed open. He approached the kelly green door and felt the overwhelming urge to knock. He pushed the notion down and tried the handle, grinning as it yielded beneath his grasp. The door opened upon a small room, not more than five feet on a side. A coat rack hung upon the white wall to his left, and a carved welcome sign hung to his right. He passed through the room and entered into a living room, a small tube television resting upon a pair of milk crates. Built in book shelves lined the wall opposite him, void of books, but filled with pictures. Anger grew in the pit of his stomach as he crossed the room. He faltered for a second as he realized there was a woman’s body resting in a blue recliner, the pistol resting in her limp hand, dried blood coating the wall behind her.
Shaking his head again, Graham approached the shelves, picking up one of the picture frames and smashing it upon the ground. The next picture was similar, the face familiar to him. The one he viewed whenever he happened to cross in front of a mirror. Growling, he summoned two of his torchbearers and sat upon the porch while he waited for them to arrive. He watched the bobbing flames as they approached and took one of the giant torches himself. He set fire to the woman first, reveling in the scent of burning flesh, before setting the torch to the rest of the structure.
He stood outside, long after dismissing his two soldiers back to camp, watching as the final red wall succumbed to the heat and crumbled to the ground as the suns first rays broke over the distant horizon.