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Through the Flames

The Burning...

I need to find my family.

Arthur kept thinking over and over again as he stood there frozen for what felt like hours, staring at the mountain man as he bent down to pick up the severed head of the girl he just decapitated. As the Mountain Man started to turn, one of the village people ran into Arthur as she was running away, too scared to look where she was going.

He snapped back and regained control of his body. When he looked back up to the alley way, the Mountain Man was gone. All that remained was the headless body of the girl.

Arthur stood back up, tried to shake the fear he felt in his chest, but it would not go away. I have to find them. Arthur started to make his way again toward the town center.

“Mom! Dad!” he screamed as he made his way, but his screams where drowned out by the screams of the rest of the people around him.

The screams grew louder.

Not just in general, but the screams directly around him grew louder and more frantic. Then, he noticed people trying to hurry their pace, people pushing each other to the ground, kids being pushed aside, everyone too scared to care about anything but their own survival. Arthur looked up and saw a man push down a young child of seven or eight years old with blond, curly hair. Anger rose up in Arthur instantly. He started pushing and shoving people out of his way.

“Move!” he screamed as he kept pushing and struggling to make it to the child on the floor. After pushing through what felt like twenty or thirty people, he reached the child, dropped to his knees, and picked up the child of matted, curly blonde hair to see, with a wave of relief, that it was not Grace. He instantly felt a pain of guilt. Would I have reacted this way if I knew it wasn’t Grace?

Arthur stood back up carrying the child and stopped one of the villagers. “Hey, here take her with you. Keep her safe.”

As Arthur handed over the child to the villager, a pained expression suddenly came over the villagers face. Arthur looked down and saw a curved blade protruding from the child’s back as the blade pierced through the villager and through the child, as well. Arthur looked back up and now saw the eyes of The Mountain Man.

Eyes as red as the blood coming from the villager and the child; bald head and scars all across his face; a sadistic smile curled across his face, and those red eyes stared right at Arthur. I will find them, Arthur thought, and even though he felt the fear rise in his chest again, he did not let himself freeze up. He side-stepped The Mountain Man, pushed through five or six villagers before he found an alley way he could use to keep going to find his family.

He started to make his way through the alley way, his heavy breathing echoing through the emptiness of the alley. Every so often, Arthur would notice villagers trying as hard as they could to hide and stay out of sight.

As Arthur turned the corner and was approaching the end of the alley way, he saw exactly what everyone was running away from.

The town center was a blood bath.

Ten other Mountain Men, just as big, and with the same red eyes, stood in the center of town, killing anyone they could get their hands on and setting fire to everything around them. As he was looking at this, something caught Arthur’s eye; something across the way on the other side of the town center. Blonde strands of curly beautiful hair, being carried by a man with a dark blonde beard that reached his chest.

Arthur’s father, his mother, and all his siblings were running towards a building that was not caught on fire yet. No, don’t stay there! Arthur thought, wanting to scream to them.

Arthur crouched down and inched forward, little by little, trying to get closer to the end of the alley without being noticed. Little by little, he inched closer and closer. I need to get over to them.

Arthur leaned over to check. As soon as the coast was clear, he would make a run for it.

Arthur waited. Controlled his breathing and waited for the right moment. Just as he made his decision and started running—sprinting at full speed toward the building—out of the corner of his eye, toward his right side, he saw one of the Mountain Men prepare to toss a lit torch toward the building that his family was in.

Everything seemed to grind to a slow crawl, like if time itself was struggling to walk through molasses. Arthur could hear muffled in the distance his mother screaming his name, but he didn’t see her. He was looking at the Mountain Man throwing his hand back, getting ready to throw the torch.

Arthur was looking at him straight on. He realized he was running straight at this red-eyed man. What am I doing? Arthur asked himself. I’m saving my family.

Arthur ran at full speed. As he approached, he tucked his head in, raised his shoulder, and threw himself at the Mountain Man.

Pain rushed up Arthur’s shoulder and kept going across his back. Arthur fell to the floor, landing next to the Mountain Man. Having been thrown off balance, Arthur looked up and saw the torch arch and land on the building to the right of the one his family was in.

Arthur got up and started to try and run away. As he did, he felt a sudden shock of pain erupt from the left side of his face, as Arthur struggled, he was able to break loose of the grip, but he felt his blood pouring out from the wound that was now across his face.

Arthur tried to keep going, tried to get as far away as he could; but suddenly, an arm wrapped around his throat. He felt the muscles around his neck tighten and he could not breathe anymore. Arthur struggled for breath, but the corners of his eyes were going dark.

This time, in the distance, he could hear a scream filled with so much anger it sounded like a roar, at first. Arthur managed to focus and look up to see his father trying with all of his might to get through the door, but all the villagers where holding him back.

Suddenly, Arthur could see clear again. For a moment, relief washed over him, and in the next instant, he felt a white hot pain that started from his back and finished in his stomach. He looked down, and over the forearm of the beast of a man holding him, he saw the tip of a sword protruding from his stomach. His hand moved instinctively to grab the blade, and he felt the warm blood—his blood—pouring out of the wound.

The Mountain Man pulled the sword out of Arthur and threw him, like a rag doll, across the floor. Arthur just laid there. Is this how I die? He started thinking about his father—all of the lessons he taught him; how to be a man. His mother—all of the days she was there for him when he was young. All of the love she gave him. His siblings—all the fights, all the arguments, all the laughs. Grace. Little baby Grace.

Arthur started growing cold. His vision started getting blurry, then dark. Then, he thought he heard another roar. A high pitched roar echoed across the sky. Then, a shimmer of gold and a flapping of wings, a gust of wind, then nothing.

Arthur’s eyes shot open, gasping for breath. He tried to sit up, but pain shot across his abdomen. 

“Where the hell am I?” 

To be continued.....

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