It was a dark night. The wind was vicious and the rain pelted
down like millions of tiny meteorites. A baby's crying could
easily be hidden. Well, that was what Oliver was hoping anyway.
He cradled Adriana in his arms, wrapping the blanket tighter
around her. He covered her ears and all her fingers and toes,
knowing how easy it was for her to get ill in this type of
weather. He leaned back against the wet brick wall, feeling every
lump and bump indent on his spine. He was so tired. He hadn't
slept in two days.
"Oliver. I'm hungry!"
Came a voice, a little way off. It had to shout to make itself
"Come over here, Solomon!" Oliver shouted back, cuddling Adriana
tighter into his chest. His brother came under their discreet
shelter and sat next to him, shivering badly.
"You didn't find anything?" Oliver asked. Solomon shook his head,
his jaw aching from his chattering teeth. Oliver stretched out an
arm and took Solomon around his painfully thin shoulders, trying
to bring some heat back into him.
"That's alright. I'll go out to look for something once this rain
Solomon nodded and leaned on his older brother's arm, closing his
heavy eyes and falling straight asleep. He had been searching for
scraps of any food since before the rain started, half an hour
ago. And before that, they had been walking and hiding for five
Oliver put his little finger in Adriana's mouth, desperate for
her to take hold of it, desperate for her to be quiet so he could
get some sleep.
"Please, Adriana," he whispered, feeling tears well in his eyes.
He could feel every area of his body aching with fatigue.
"Please, just go to sleep. I know you're cold and wet, but so am
I. I know you're hungry. I know you need food. So do I. But
please, just be quiet, Adriana. I need to sleep. Please ..."
Adriana miraculously stopped crying, and looked up at his pale,
gaunt face with stormy grey eyes. Her bottom lip wobbled. Oliver
placed his finger in her mouth, and after a small moment, Adriana
started sucking on it. She closed her eyes, still sucking, and
fell asleep. Oliver breathed out a sigh of relieved desperation.
He felt like laughing. But he didn't want to wake her up.
Smiling, he closed his eyes and immediately slept.
"Come on, Dad! You said you'd play with us!" Solomon called,
pulling Brad's hand and leading him outside. Oliver was already
ready with the football.
"Janey! Help me!" Brad called in mock defeat. Janey laughed.
It was a lovely sound - light and musical like a bird's. She
shook her head, smiling. She looked down at the bundle in her
arms. A beautiful plump face looked back at her, eyes shining
brightly and a smile revealing healthy, pink gums. A shadow
passed briefly over her face. Janey looked up, and her smile
"Brad? What's that?" she asked, pointing at the sky. Brad
pulled Solomon off his leg and looked up, squinting into the sun.
There was a small black dot in the sky. The dot split into two,
the first dot moving off, and the second dot getting larger. What
was it? The boys had stopped wrestling now, and looked up at the
sky as well.
All of a sudden, the larger dot grew twice its size. Then
again, and again.
"I think we should move ..." Brad began. But it was too late.
The bomb hit the ground, and a massive explosion followed. Brad
and Janey fell to the ground, covering their children with their
whole bodies. The entire world shook, as fire and rubble rained
from the sky. That was the exact moment the war started.
Oliver jerked awake, feeling his blood racing and his neck stiff.
He stamped out the thoughts of his nightmare. Every time he
slept, he kept dreaming about that last day, two weeks ago. His
mind created different variations of the dream. But in the end,
it was always the same. His parents died. There was nothing he
could do about it.
He sniffed. He didn't want to think about that right now.
Adriana was crying again in his arms. He looked out of the
shelter. The sun was rising and it had just stopped raining.
"Shh, Adriana, you'll wake up Solomon," Oliver whispered to her.
She didn't listen to him. Gently setting her down on the floor,
Oliver went out of the shelter to look for food. He stuck to the
damaged buildings, and was on the constant lookout for any
guards. He almost fell flat on his face after tripping over a
box, but he caught himself just in time. He backtracked to the
box. It was a smallish and wooden. There was no catch on it, so
he had to smash it to open it. Ignoring the pain of the splinters
in his hands, he opened the unlabelled packet inside. As soon as
he smelt it he knew what it was. Food. A grin spread across his
face. His heart pounded with joy. He couldn't believe his luck!
He got up and started running back towards the shelter. His
stomach was rumbling like an earthquake, but he knew he had to
wait and share it with his brother and sister. A rock was
accidently kicked into the middle of the road, and Oliver froze.
He ducked down behind a broken wall. A guard came over to the
rock. He looked around suspiciously, pulling around the rifle
from his back.
"Who's there?" he called. His voice echoed across the buildings.
There was no reply. After five minutes, the footsteps retreated
and Oliver heaved a sigh of relief. He hurriedly but carefully
made his way back to the shelter. Little did he know that he had
just fallen straight into the guard's trap. The guard waited out
Oliver's waiting, then slyly followed him. The guard didn't know
if Oliver was going to lead him to any others, but it didn't
matter in the end. Oliver was going to die.
Oliver shook Solomon's shoulder, still grinning.
"Solomon! Look what I found! Look!"
Solomon started awake. Once he saw the food in Oliver's hand, he
grinned as madly as his brother. Oliver picked up Adriana. He
chewed a bit of the food, then put it in her mouth and she
"Go on, Adriana. Eat up!"
Solomon and Oliver laughed. They didn't even know why. It just
felt so good.
Oliver and Solomon gasped, whipping round to face the guard.
Before the guard could say anything more, Oliver shoved Adriana
into Solomon's arms and ran towards the guard, screaming, "Run,
The guard, taken aback, was knocked straight off his feet by
Oliver. Oliver glimpsed Solomon taking off with Adrian. While the
guard was still winded, Oliver grabbed the rifle. But the guard
was quick. Grabbing one end of the gun, he smashed it against
Oliver's temple. Calling out in pain, Oliver fell backwards, and
the guard scrambled to stand up. He kept his boot on Oliver's
back so he wouldn't move. He took aim with his gun, and fired.
The gunshot that Solomon heard gave him extra adrenalin. He held
Adriana tightly, with no chance of her falling. The thought of
Oliver dead didn't even register in his mind. All he could think
about was running away. He had to get himself and Adriana safe.
The guard left Oliver on the floor right where he was, and
sprinted after the child and baby he'd seen slip past him
earlier. He was bigger and stronger than Solomon, and he his
rifle was lighter than the baby. He caught up quickly. Much too
quickly. Bang! The running figure dropped to the floor.
The guard jogged over, knowing that there was no chance now of
the baby escaping. He stood towered above Adriana. She was crying
so hard her voice was going hoarse. In the tiny second that she
opened her eyes in her scrunched up face, Adriana met the guard's
eye. The guard stopped what he was doing. He was taken aback by
the power of her look. He suddenly thought, How could I kill
something so innocent? The finger on the trigger relaxed. But
then his general's voice spoke in his head, as if he were right
next to him.
"Kill them all. Leave no one alive."
Throwing the thought of sparing the child out of his head, he
pointed the gun down at the infant. He didn't look. Click!
The guard stared in shock at the tiny baby, at those stormy grey
eyes wide and staring.
He'd run out of bullets.