When we passed through the storm, the world was different. Strange. There was a smell to it that reminded me of Boston and New York City, London and Berlin. Odors reminiscent of industrialization and power, neither of which were comforting to me.
There were fences of a sort I had never seen before, boot tracks in the snow that caused the hackles on my neck to stand tall. We spread out, alert, and searching for an enemy we could not see but felt certain was near.
My son found them.
Rather, my son found what was left by them.
He was with several others, moving forward, fearless. In the stillness of the Hollow, I heard it. A soft, delicate click when Marcus stepped down. He raised his foot to see what it was, and the earth beneath his feet exploded with a hidden charge.
My son’s torso landed close to me, half his face missing, brain exposed, and his jaw trying to produce words for which there was no air. His remaining eye fixed on me and then the light of life left it.
I knelt beside the remains of my son, remembering what the reaper had told me.
How could I make peace with my son’s death?
How could any parent?
A fresh storm descended upon us, separating the living from the dead and denying me even the rough salve of burying my child.
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