Wednesday, June 15, 2011

The Demons Beyond the Hills

This disturbing little scene came to me in a dream one night. It's resisted all my efforts to coax a full-length story out of it, so I've relegated it to flash fiction. This version clocks in at exactly 300 words.

We know why you have come. We can see it in your eyes, the hunger for revenge. You seek the demons? Sit at our fire and we will tell you what we know.

It is said they never kill children, the demons beyond the hills. It is true. They spared us the night they destroyed our village. At dawn, we stumbled through the ruins with ashes in our eyes. Too young to hunt, too young to sow or reap, we could only cry.

We found no solace in the neighboring villages. “You will draw the demons down on us,” they shouted as they drove us away. Alone against the world, we prayed to what gods we remembered that they might spare us from our enemies until our revenge was complete.

Somehow we did not die. We lived on bugs and tree bark. The forest made us hard and lithe and strong. In time, we made our way over the hills, and when we found the demons in their beds, we killed them with our bare fists and they did not even resist us.

We knew peace then for many years.

But the gods were too generous when they answered our prayers, for we soon discovered we could not die. No enemy could kill us – not hunger, nor hardship, nor mortal spear. We grew weary with the weight of our winters but still we lived.

At last, in anger, we vowed that if we could not die, others would die in our place. And so we waged war throughout the land.

But we never killed children.

And now, at long last, you have come: kindred spirits, whose suffering mirrors our own. You could never be our enemies. In fact, we welcome you as daughters and sons.

We will not even resist.

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