There was just one of the little bastards left.

How do I know? I am the able-bodied warrior, of straight back and unencumbered knee, who hath held down the fort on this day. I held in my hand a weapon of instant death, and death I dealt with extreme prejudice.

How many such nights have I seen, after all? During the darkest hours, in the hottest of summers, I waged a lonely but fruitful war. Corpses fell in pitiful heaps on these old, blessed floors, and I would allow myself to tire only when my duty was discharged; my only reward would be a good night’s sleep.

Alas, this night has been one of mistakes and missed opportunities. In the very height of my bloodlust, where every swish of my weapon consigned dozens to an early grave, I stopped – for the briefest of moments – and one slipped away.

And to think of all the preparation my weary father and I had made in the small hours of the day! The fortifications were made for our final stand at this, the place of my very birth, and quite possibly, if I were worthy of the honor, my final resting place as well.

My mother, a proud old lady with a heart of gold but poor of health, had reminded me of my greatest battles before this night’s vigil. With a voice choked with pride and suppressed emotion, she recounted acts of great significance.

I would never fail her.

The one that slipped away – I speak to it now. The world, my world, is not big enough the two of us to coexist, that is a fact. My trusty weapon whose very frame crackles with dangerous electricity, is ready to defend my honor.

And so, I began. I waded past dank and the dark in my quest to find that lone survivor.

They are a cunning foe, that much must be said. Over the years, they had grown nearly immune to the weapons and poisons of the ages, and were far more adept at concealment. When they attacked, they were merciless, and unrelenting.

Over the years, however, I had trained myself to not fret over the blood that would invariably be drawn, or the countless scars they had left on our bodies; I had instead mastered the nuances of combat, had nurtured and trained my senses to spot, isolate and kill.

Oh, but they were crooked swine. They would stick to the shadows, wait patiently for the opportunity to present itself, and then…

“Balu! Balu! Over here!”

A wail that rend the air. A wail that shook me, a wail that made my blood rush.

I dashed to where my mother was, I could see only the deepest red. My thoughts at this point were only about the pain I would inflict when I got there…

*

“It’s so hard to see them when the power is out.”

“Plus, they get straight into the bloody ears…”

The air was suddenly filled with the swishing of an electrified tennis racquet. The lion-hearted little boy was giving it everything.

“He takes his job so seriously”, said Mom, looking at her son fondly.

Dad chuckled to himself. Sure, the drama was over the top, but he knew the value of moments like these, where true protectors were born.

“For the Fort”, by P.Shenvi

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