Flame, At a Distance, Over Water
by B. Nagel
I’m on my back step, having a last pipe with the pigs, watching the sun fall into the bay. Inside, my Kay is packing her pipe to join us. Everything settled and domestic since I hung straight-edged Kantir above the door. The sun on the water flickers like flame and reminds me of Saychal and Harris-blades. That was an ugly campaign.
A boy on the main island stirring up the natives. Says he knows a passage away from the empire. That kind usually comes to a bad end of themselves.
This boy though. He was the pure penny. Committed. Something had to be done.
As a soldier, I did the needful myself.
As a man, I watched in shock while my men overran the island, using the newest weaponry to chew through ‘hostiles’. Everything dragged into the ocean: men, women, children, pets and lumber. We salted the ground, then set the grass on fire. As we sailed away in the night, the flames shot high with flashes of blue and green.
I sank the weapons in our wake. Such power doesn’t belong in the hands of angry men. I deserted. Then I met Kay. Together, we bought a piece of poor land with a view.
The sound of the Harris-blade scatters the pigs. The sching and grind pulls out the foundations from the earth and rivulets of pain course through my ears and back along my spine.
Kay leans close to whisper, “He was my little brother.”