Birds of Prayer
by Craig Scott
A hard blue eye stared at Ahiga over the top of a rifle, the other clenched shut as the soldier took aim. This was a battle; soft things die in battle. There was a hollow click as the soldier’s finger tightened around the trigger but no gunshot. Such a small sound shouldn’t have been audible above the ruckus of men screaming and gunshots.
The latter came from both sides of the fighting. Ahiga might be too set in his ways to change but the younger men in his tribe were not.
The soldier desperately tried to fix his rifle, hurried motions turning to fumbles as Ahiga bore down on him. In one shift motion Ahiga pulled the soldier’s head back by the hair and slashed his throat open, sending warm blood spurting upwards in a fountain.
Sometimes hard things died in battle too.
Suddenly there was a concussive explosion followed by searing pain as a bullet tore through him. Ahiga gasped as he crumpled to the ground, the fact he didn’t scream due as much to how abruptly it happened as much as any bravery.
As his eyes began to dim Ahiga could just make out a winged silhouette wheeling in long arcs high above him. His cracked lips curved into a smile, the eagle was a good omen. Perhaps it would mean his people would survive this turbulent time of change.
That same bird would later pick at Ahiga’s lifeless eyes with the cruel hooked beak of a vulture.