The sun rose from the far edge of the earth, illuminating the mangled shapes that were drenched in blood. A hand reached out from under the bodies like a tongue tasting the thick, humid air. The rest of the hand’s body emerged slowly but surely and its head rotated to take in the vast field of corpses.
Each heartbeat came quicker than the next as the boy came upon clothes and jewelry and tattooed body parts he recognized. Then came the faces, the faces whose parched skin stretched across their skulls, completely dessicated. The blood that had dried on skin now resembled the red earth and made it seem like they were half buried already. The boy stopped to stare at two familiar faces, wrapped around each other as if each were protecting the other’s soul from leaving their body. One face’s eyes were closed, its entire visage contorted as if it was experiencing a nightmare. The other’s eyes were wide open staring at the rising sun as if it were a devil approaching to punish them for all their sins.
The boy followed the body’s empty stare and then fully faced the sun then, the events of the previous day rushed back to him. The screams of his friends, the sobs of his family, the sound of thundering cavalry as it came for their heads washed over him, and he shivered despite the warmth of the day. He silently made his way to the forest beyond the battlefield, careful not to disturb the sleeping souls.
He was almost at the clearing right in front of the forest when he felt something beneath his feet. He froze in panic and looked down warily, terrified of what he might find. The boy looked to the ground and stared at a small Apapa fruit that had been under his foot, its beautiful blue nectar spilt next to it and mixing with the red stained earth. The fruit brought back old memories; playing games with his sister, climbing trees with his friends, cooking with his mother. His mother. He remembered her smile, and her eyes, and her face when she would tell him stories about the great warriors of the north. His memory quickly shifted to a new scene: his mother’s face crying and in pain, begging him to hide with her, her desperate pleas as she grabbed his sister and told him to take a single thing he held dear. he wonders if he’d still be alive if he had listened to her. He shook his head, he couldn’t think about that right now, if he went back to find her it would only be worse.
He looked up at the sun once more, it had almost reached its full height, its usually welcome yellow had now become an offending orange. He knew they would return soon, to make sure that they had finished their work properly. He had to leave and hide, hide fast. He remembered what his father told him when he was younger, about the cave that led to the bottom of the cliff and straight to the water. Mentally mapping out his journey he ran into the azure maze without looking back once, knowing that if he did he would never be able to leave.
The sun reached its apex soon after the boy disappeared into the lush thickness of the forest. The blinding light signaled the vultures who arrived to enjoy the best feast they had in years. In the distance a conch sounded and right after the dull thundering of cavalry followed, getting closer and closer until the slightly squashed Apapa fruit became a beautiful blue juice that was absorbed by the earth.