The Town Square
Arthur Carver stepped out of his house and greeted the dull, grey light with feigned purpose. The smell of wet smoke and fire still lingered in the air as he stood on his damp wooden porch surveying the wreckage before him. The storm had strewn barrels, pieces of wood & various bits of hay all about the main square of their little Hamlet. It would be a fair bit of work to clean it up and Arthur knew that no one was going to simply volunteer, that left it up to him as acting Mayor to delegate the task. Once again he would be the cause of today’s strife and for a moment he considered simply doing it himself but he shook the thought from his mind when he remembered that after the town hall meeting he was to help Edward negotiate the cost of a few more horses from another village.
“Although, why waste an opportunity…” he said quietly to himself as he walked absentmindedly towards the center of the town square, stooping to pick up small pieces of wood & bits of hay as he walked. He made sure to do it in loud gestures so that the other townsfolk who were currently emerging from their houses saw the effort he was putting into cleaning the square himself. This way, he thought to himself, they wouldn’t see me as just delegating later when I have to assign some people to clean it up.
The townsfolk continued emerging from their houses like scared children checking to see if their parents had stopped fighting and sure enough the storm has come and gone leaving only broken bits of the night behind. A few of them started making a halfhearted attempt to clean up the destruction but after a few short minutes of idle work the people began staring in Arthurs direction. He continued his slow but steady pace towards the center of the square, picking up each bit of rubble he could with a humble smile upon his face until his arms were filled.
He turned around while continuing to walk backwards and looked towards the now gathering crowd which assembled in the direction he came from and shyly nodded, a crisp half frown on his face as if to say, “No need to thank me, I’m only human.” Arthur would have continued his self-congratulation had he not noticed that the faces of the townspeople were not depictions of praise or appreciation but rather grimaces of absolute horror. Arthur stopped walking when he felt a soft poke in his back and turned around to see the body of a boy hanging by his feet.
“The body had been strung up sometime in the early morning,” Henry, the town doctor said in a gruff voice, “…and if you look here…” he pointed towards the gaping hole in the chest, “…his ribs are broken with an immense force. Just like…”
“Just like the others.” Arthur said crisply, cutting him off.