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Take no notice

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Corpses lay strewn across the deep valley. A morbid silence that echoed for miles clung to the remnants of a once-great colony. They had been greatly vulnerable to the foe that had come to destroy them and their last stand had been engulfed in smoke and apathy. I walked a funeral march with my heart beaten and bruised as I gazed at the genocide.
The acrid smell of ash found my senses defenceless, and attacked with pinpoint accuracy as my eyes clouded and my throat closed. I coughed; racking coughs that rattled like gunfire in attempt to drive the smoke from my lungs.
My shirt screeched as I tore it, holding the soft shred of fabric to my face. There was nothing to do about my eyes but to blink rapidly, hoping that my salty tears would wash away the filth and darkness that was my surroundings. The ground crackled like roasted pig fat and leaked with tendrils of smoke; as if Hell itself had come to watch the show and was gloating in the bed of death.
The twisted bodies were almost unrecognisable, their limbs missing or mutilated. I was frightened to touch anything, fearing that the horror which lay in the valley could leak through my pores and poison me.
I stumbled, and looked back to see a foot severed from a body that was now gone, blown away with the wind. The toes were splintered and bent at unnatural angles as if a giant had climbed down from the clouds and trodden upon it. The skin was blackened and peeling off while the once precious internal fluids oozed out of the wounds and leached into the ground. I began to wonder where the foot had stood, when attached to its body, as the fire was born. Had its owner been frightened as the wave of heat had swept down the slope towards it and animals stampeded past, fleeing for their lives in the prologue of destruction? Had the foot’s owner been rooted in fear, or had it stood its ground with bravery and grit?
I began to hear a sound so pure and clear, that it conflicted greatly with the scene. The gentle melody of a running brook that slipped like silk, met my ears. I knelt on the scorched ground to dip my hands into the water, trying to cleanse myself. The coolness and gentle caresses distracted me a small while before my mind itched to move on; to escape this place.
My chest melted, like wax to a flame, into a concave shape from the guilt that suddenly gripped me. I had been powerless to stop this, just as powerless as I was now to reverse it. The damage was done and the land would be black until the soil is turned by the millions of earthworms that had wiggled out into the open. They joined the highway of insects scurrying over the corpses; a parade of cowards that had hid, much like how a child hides under the covers to escape the imagined dangers of the dark.
At last the thick cloud swirling around me thinned to reveal the end of my crusade. The rush of the highway beckoned. I passed two crouching, yellow beasts with wide and sharp teeth; their drivers took no notice of me.
No one takes any notice; not when a stranger walks alone or a forest is burned to ashes.



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