From the Cradle

In Fiction on June 17, 2013 at 4:18 pm

palm trees

From the Cradle

Fevered, I dreamt I crawled a burning maze, my limbs withering and sloughing off in my wake; dead men chattered nonsense, mouths filled with ash, eyes filled with pain; then a drenching rain swept up from some distant gulf, washing the ash and limbs and fire into an endless black chasm.

When I woke, dew dripped from the palms, dropping heavy in the leaves. A faint light glowed over the dunes to the east, pink like lilies in the spring. The oasis, our green cradle, seemed to sigh. We were safe.

I let my brother sleep and set to work digging a shallow grave. My leg pained me, except below the knee where I’d lost all sensation, but the work kept me distracted. I laid Meher in the fertile loam, covered his body with earth and rock, and said a silent prayer as the flies began to swarm.

Paul was awake when I had finished. He watched silently from the bed of the Mahindra, his eyes bulging in his pale face.

“This wasn’t my fault,” I said feebly. “Meher could have stayed behind. He didn’t have to come.”

Paul only stared. I hobbled back to the truck and climbed behind the wheel, where I sobbed softly for a time. At last I turned the key.

“Paul,” I said, speaking to my brother but speaking to no one, “do you remember the stories father used to tell? Poland after the invasion?”

Paul said nothing, but it didn’t matter. I needed to talk. A strange thought had suddenly gripped me.

“He used to say the worst part about the occupation wasn’t the soldiers at his club or the disappearances, but the way the language changed. Infected with German. They even changed the names of the cities. Lodz became Litzmannstadt.”

We rode east over the dunes, toward Luxor, and my conviction grew even as the light woke slowly in the sky.

“The men who killed Meher…” I said at last. “I think they were speaking German.”

This continues my series, The Treatment, and also serves as my response to this week’s Trifecta challenge: Club. Let me know what you think, especially if you’ve been following this one from the beginning! (If you haven’t been following from the beginning, it’s never too late to start 🙂 ) Check it out here:

The Treatment // A Prison of the Mind // Echoes // Out for Blood // Lonely Travelers // From the Cradle

  1. intriguing story, makes me want to find out more! cool take on the prompt.


  2. Brian, this is beautifully written – the pace, language, story – just excellent. I would like to know more too but I like it as a stand alone piece too. I’ve read it twice, once aloud. Really, really enjoyed this!

  3. ..And now I want to read more of The Treatment! Lovely.

  4. Great descriptions! And I agree with MOV, very intriguing! Kate (Trifecta Guest Judge)

  5. this was so powerful, reminding me of the stories my dad (the Green Beret) used to tell me about Vietnam.

    the last line took it over the edge, as if the world itself comes full circle on itself. “will we never learn?”

  6. Very good piece!

  7. This story becomes more intriguing with every installment. The small touches you insert are so mesmerizing, like Paul sobbing at the wheel, and the phrase, the light woke slowly in the sky.. wonderful.

  8. This is a great continuation. So much emotion.

  9. Feeling a touch feverish myself after reading this. Great tension and authenticity.

  10. I’m hooked! I’d love to read more…

  11. Those opening two paragraphs are so beautifully descriptive. Really felt the character’s need to talk at the end.

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