Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Entry #96

Out of Darkness
by Fran Piper

“Schoolteacher!” The man I call the Butcher steps out from the trees, tosses me an AK47. Clouds obscure the moon and my last hope. The Butcher has the darkness he needs.

He came to the school, the brave rebel leader, recruiting my students.

“No,” I said. “They are too young.”

The Butcher sneered. “Why listen to your schoolteacher, when he will not fight for you?”

“All right,” I said. “I will go tonight, if you leave the children alone.”

But the Butcher has already won. Killing, even at gunpoint, I would be no better than him—so I will refuse, and he will leave my body piled with the other corpses. Then he will have the children anyway. Some of the Butcher’s troops are former students of mine. They hang their heads as they greet me; they know why I am here.

We follow the Butcher into darkness. I trip over roots, am lassoed by creepers. But when I fall, someone catches me.

We leave the trees. A miracle—the cloud is breaking up; we stand in the spotlight of the full moon. The Butcher is enraged. He turns on me and raises his gun, but his men step forward. The Butcher looks at them; they stare back, hard-eyed. For a moment he is still. Then he strides back into the forest, and we follow.

Just for tonight I win; the children are safe. As the trees swallow us, I turn and salute the moon.


Joni said...

"Clouds obscure the moon and my last hope." Great duality to set up the scene.

Heroic. Great writing. I like.

anne frasier said...

i agree with joni about it being heroic. great flow.
very, very nice.

Anonymous said...

My brother-in-law is from El Salvador, and the soldiers came to his school three times. This is an important story.

Well done.

bekbek said...

Nicely written. It's got the strength of real world events behind it, and it has such a good character, caught between two bad choices.

anna said...

This really captures the essence of
bravery. Wonderful writing!

Anonymous said...

I'm guessing that the importance of the moon was the Butcher's anonyminity? I wasn't entirely clear on that point. A good tale, though, of the harshness of life in some parts of the world.

Anonymous said...

I love that your central character, your hero, is a teacher. Every profession has its heroes.

I wanted to climb into the story and stand with him.

Thank you. Very powerful for me.

Robert Ball said...

A powerful statement of child soldiers. Also the importance of adults doing the right thing no matter what.

Bhaswati said...

This is an amazing piece. You touched on the sensitive issue of child soldiers without being cliched. The images are so vivid and realistic. Excellent story! :)

Fran Piper said...

Thanks, everyone, for the encouraging comments! (Especially valuable considering what good writers you all are!)

Anonymous said...

A story of quiet power. I liked that victory over brute strength and evil.