By Neel Anil Panicker

The open sky stretched from sand to horizon  and the riders advanced on the oasis. It was the fourth day since the band of ten had hit the road, leaving behind their village, now near abandoned, with only a few stray dogs and the few odd decrepit too unwilling, but more incapable and mentally weak to fight and live for another day, will fully acquiescing themselves to a certain, though slow and painful ends.

The leaders had ensured that the annihilation was near complete, having slaughtered their way past felled human bodies-of men, women, and children including even infants latched to their mothers’ chests.

Not a word was exchanged, not even a glance.

The three days and nights traversed through ghost towns was expended in utter silence.
The men, all under thirty, all who were the sole living members of their families, were too broken, felt too abandoned, also too furious with blinding rage, their minds tormented, their hearts  tormented and torn asunder to eschew all forms of mundane communication.
They had only one goal: to somehow gallop their way to Assourie, a small village some 500 miles afar, a place so secluded to be out of reach of their attackers.

The village headman, a near ninety year old, had whispered into one of their ears his very last words: Go, those who are left, to Assourie, a village encircled by purple pathways at edge of the Hilkish hills. There you will be met by the Jicko clan, your third cousins. They will shelter you, feed you, and one day, they will also join you in taking revenge against these vile bastards.

By the end of the fifth evening, as the sun descended up on the hills beyond, and the horizon lit up a dazzling orange, the band of survivors sighted the top narrow mud roofs of the promised village.

As they neared it, more sights of habitation were seen—a row of small single roofed mud hutments, several rice laden fields, and the walls of a few wells strewn around a square kilometres radius all over.

They had arrived.
It was now all a waiting game; the interim between recouping and rejuvenating and the inevitable revengeful retribution that was to follow.

#neelanilpanicker #fiction #shortstory

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