No Survivors by Oscar Lilley

Only a single panel from a single clerestory window from a single wall remained.  Inhabitants were long dead or long gone, along with most of their home.  But a lone pane, the center of nine, yet remained unbroken. A fugitive from the law of averages, it has stood where flesh and stone crumble against the King of Battle.  Artillery does not think nor feel.  It is quite the Progressive however, mashing Slav, Anglo, and Ethiopian alike.  So, what to make of this one defiant lite? His eight brothers knew their place.

This was the prevailing question on the parched lips of a disheveled squad of Dog Faces.  They, whether Prussians of 1760, Confederates of 1864, Yanks of 1945, or those beyond our time have seen friends and foe ripped apart by shot and grape, by 88s, and guided missile.  They haven’t changed; blood still pumps from the heart, blasts still rupture organs, metal cleaves flesh from bone.  This squad, representing centuries of combat, is resting on ruins, gazing through the window to nowhere.

A philosophical Nancy might think this single pane a metaphoric survivor of an ugly war.  Maybe these soldiers see this panel a butterfly in a land of moths- a comely reminder of home.  Maybe that single pane buttressed by resolute pairs of mullions and transoms represents the resiliency of the human spirit in the minds of that run-down squad.  But maybe that would all be wrong.  These men are dirty and broken, sporting torn souls and trousers.  And no mere window pane was due a better fate.

They all hold doctorates in destruction.  Nothing material survives the Scourge.  That is sacrilege.  Out come the butts of pikes and flintlocks and rifles and laser guns.  The unspoken, implied internal order relays to the fingertips:

 

BREAK IT

 

There are no survivors.

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Categories: Fiction, Issue 1 - Fall 2011, Periodicals | Leave a comment

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