#11 – Barren Trees

Brad was laid down on Bello’s lap. He murmured something which was too faint to hear. When Bello brought his ear very close to his lips, he kissed him softly on the ears and whispered, “Fly now.” He was dying. The pain was too much to endure. When the wolf had first torn his flesh, it had hurt; but then it started numbing down as the doctor gave him the ointments and medicines. Yet before long, he knew what the doctor had done. He didn’t tell anyone, he didn’t want others dead too, but he knew that the doctor had been poisoning everyone with his medicines. All the medicines contained the same chemical, which was soothing in less quantities, but over a period of time, it would kill everything inside a man, and finally take his life. He knew it. He knew he was dying. Yet he didn’t mutter a word.

When Bello promised him they’d die together, Brad had smiled. He knew nothing of this world. Brad had higher dreams. Once dead he would join the Things. He would persuade them to not enforce their laws on the human world, and would see a happy end to the journey at both ends. He closed his eyes and dozed off. Bello kept praying. When his eyes opened, there was an arrow through Brad’s chest, where he knew the heart was. There was only one man who knew to use the crossbow, and Bello rushed into his tent.

‘Edward!’ he cried out. The Headmaster was sitting on his bed, feeding grains to the raven. The raven shrieked “Fly! Now! Fly! Now!” but no one paid it any heed. Edward tried to stand up, but Bello kicked him on his groin and threw him down on the ground. “Why did you kill him?” he asked. The Headmaster only smiled. He stood up again, and Bello kicked him down again. “Why did you kill him?” he shouted louder. Edward wanted to explain how he couldn’t allow his teachings to go into a waste, how he couldn’t allow the smaller children to see two men loving each other, how he himself had once loved a man so dearly and how heavy a price he did pay for it, but instead he only smiled. That was his last smile.

Under the barren trees, they laid the bodies of Brad and the Headmaster. They looked so alike, and no one knew how much alike they actually were. Their eyes were serene, and under the glistening moon, they covered the father and the son in layers of ice. They kept walking ahead, but the raven on the tree above still croaked, “Fly! Now! Fly! Now!”

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