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He walked down the street, shoulders scrunched against the splattering of bitter raindrops. The wind played with the bottom of his coat, sending shivers up his spine. He stopped at a faded blue door with numbers hanging at awkward angles and pulled out a small silver key. He slid the key into the lock and swung the door open, stepping inside.
His wet shoes left imprints on the ragged red carpet. He hung the coat on the arm of a chair, slid his shoes off and on to the kitchen linoleum, and settled into the nearest recliner, newspaper in hand. As he read a piece on the riots somewhere in Africa his eyes drifted shut and he began to snore.

Blood was splattered across the door, but he ducked through it anyway. Gun shots reported in the distance—if he remained outside, it would be his blood on the door. The room he found himself in had long since been abandoned. Broken chairs and toppled cupboards held as evidence. And that wasn’t counting the blood on the door.
Something evil had happened here. Kasheesh felt a shiver run up his spine and the sudden urge to leave—but forced himself to stay. Running would only get him killed. His breath still came in ragged gasps, but he looked around the room with a critical eye. He needed a hiding place. His eyes caught on delicate steps in the corner. He bolted towards them and climbed them, two at a time. At the top a single window looked out onto the shattered town. He ran to it and glanced out and up. If he stretched he would be able to climb onto the roof. He crouched in the window sill for a few seconds before grasping with every particle towards the edge that would pull him to safety.
For the briefest moment he felt his fingers graze rough metal. Then he was clutching at air. When he hit the ground, smooth velvety blackness slowly crawled over him, like the beetles crawling in the dust.

They found him sprawled in the dirt, blood and bruises covering his bare skin. But they no longer cared about those thing—they’d seen too much by now. One raised a gun to the man’s head, but another pushed his arm away impatiently. Nothing showed on his face, but inside he was frowning. He felt pity for this man who had fought so bravely for so long. He would be better off dead now than alive later. He wished he could kill him, but authorities above his head needed this man. A shiver ran up his spine. This man would better off dead. He didn’t turn as he felt the heat waves from behind him. He had expected them to burn the house, just in case. The destruction no longer bothered him like it once did.

A barking dog woke the man from his brief slumber. He cursed the dog quietly—he hadn’t slept well last night. He picked the paper up off the floor and flipped it back open to the story he had started before falling asleep. His eyes skimmed over it as he got up to retrieve jam and bread from the refrigerator. Government troops were attempting to subdue an up rise of rebels who demanded rights. They were disturbing the peace and causing unrest. And they were violent.

When the beetle of darkness finally crawled away, Kasheesh found himself bound in a chair by thick chains. He cursed every god he knew and struggled feebly against the bonds before sinking back dejectedly. He would be dead in a few hours if he was lucky, a few days if he was not.
His stomach ached from lack of food. His last meal was too distant to remember, to meager to be important. His head throbbed from the impact of the fall and he could feel crusted blood matted in his hair. His cuts, which stung now, were something he had meant to attend to once he reached the next safe haven. But he had failed. He was captured. Footsteps echoed from his left and a man appeared. His rifle was trained on Kasheesh. He flipped the safety off. Kasheesh allowed a ghost of a smile to pass his lips. This man would kill him. The suffering would end. He had no regrets to flicker across his consciousness, only the thought that that this is what he had chosen. It had been his choice to try to climb to the roof. His life. The gun fired.

The jam didn’t want to stay on the bread. When he went to take a bite, the jam would slop off the backside, leaving him with a dry piece of toast. He supposed he could have had bread with honey and cinnamon. That at least, would have stayed obediently on the bread. But, he thought, that’s what life is all about. Choices.




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