Chapter 11:Panic off the battlefield
Harod did not stop crying all together. He would still cry himself to sleep every night. And cry in his sleep. And sometimes he would still be whimpering when he woke up. On days where he was not crying, we would all consider it a good day.
However, I noticed something different about Harod. While as he previously loathed being chosen for a firing squad or an execution, now he jumps for the opportunity. Whenever a rebel who was found to have commit a war crime (such as the murder of civilian or a rape), they often receive a trial and an execution. Harod is not just taking one for the team; he seems to enjoy executing rebels and defectors. Unlike the others who are chosen to preform executions, Harod seems to look the scumbags in the eyes as he kills them. I am not being judgmental, as I too would be more than a little pissed if my love died.
Apart from Harod's misery, there have been other events of noteworthiness. The encampment was once again moved deeper into the heart of the district, as the advancing Rebel army forces us to become more and more defensive. On the bright side, all the civilians (and the refugees from Districts 1 and 4), have been evacuated to the great emergency bunkers in the Acropolis.
I hope Annona and my mother are kept safe there. I also hope the same think for Crispin's grandchildren, Aric's nephew, Jacobine's younger brothers, and all the innocent civilians who the rebels would deny mercy.
However, I am afraid. Not afraid of for myself, mind you. I am infinatly more afraid of what will happen to my friends and family. The rebels have made it painfully clear time and time again that they have no intentions of abiding by basic standards of conduct.
Right now, I am pondering all of this while sitting around a campfire during the hour of rest we receive at the end of the day. Today was not what I would call a good day: the patrol I was part of stumbled upon the mutilated and scattered remains of a whole family. From what I heard (from loyalist militiamen who narrowly escaped a similar fate prior to enlistment), the rebels simply got bored and decided a family of refugees would provide the 'entertainment'.
There were so many bloody bits that it was impossible to identify what belonged to whom. We had to bury the mess in a single unmarked grave.
While I try to forget about it, I desperately need distraction. I guess I should be careful what I wish for.
One of the District 2 Loyalist Militiamen approaches me. "You're one of Harod's friends? Right?"
"If you see him, tell him he still owes me for the coil of rope I loaned him."
I look up, eyes wide with fear and a little bit of shock.
"Where is he?"
"Just outside the encampment. Why?"
I do not answer his question, but instead sprint all the way to the edge of the encampment.
When the guards stopped me for an ID, I showed it to them as well as asking if they saw a large peacekeeper named Harod. They said they did, and that he was in the courtyard.
Once again they asked why, and once again I ignored them as I ran to the courtyard. My feet hurt and my lungs burned, but I pressed on. Eventually I saw the street lamps in the courtyard, and a mass was hanging from one of them.
As I run towards the mass, I fear the worst.
Soon I see what it is.
Hanging from the rope on the street lamp, it was suspended limply.
It was just a punching bag.
The relief I feel when I see that it was just a punching bag is so much that I fall over flat on my ass.
I did not initially notice that, before he saw me, Harod was bunching the bag with fury and shouting "I HATE YOU, I HATE YOU, I HATE YOU ...".
When he saw me, he stopped punching the bag and extended an arm to help me up.
When I grip it, I can feel how bloody his hands are from repeatedly punching something.
"Hello Lyes, I didn't mean you."
"So, how are you feeling?"
"I don't want to talk about it. Did you want to see me?"
I can't tell him what I was afraid he did, because it might give him ideas.
"You'll be late for curfew if you don't get back to camp soon."
"Need any help with that?" I gesture to the punching bag when I say this.
"Sure, I promised someone I'd return this rope once I'm done with it."
We walk back to camp, less than two minutes to spare before curfew.