For Fandango’s Flash Fiction Challenge #115, where we write about this photo from Harrison Haines at Pixels.com.
“But they are animals”, goaded Zlatan. “The whole lot of them, they are total vermin.”
Zlatan was already one of the cadre, a proven, cold-blooded killer, but for himself, Lech wanted no part of conflict. “Look, Zlatan, I would just as soon stay out of this, you know. I’d sooner just not get involved”. Lech began to turn away.
“Come on, man. People are already talking about you.”
“Saying what?” Lech snapped still and turned back to face his steely-eyed brother.
“That you’re scared. That you have no fight in you. You need to go down there and make a show.” He gestured back toward the village, past the newly-flowering daffodils nestled into the embankment. “So they know that your heart is in it.”
“But Zlatan, you know my heart is in it.”
“Then show me. Show us all. Prove it to us. Here…”
He cocked the shotgun and thrust it at Lech. Lech hesitated.
“Come on, Lech. Whose side are you on? Are you with us, or against us?”
Finally goaded into action, Lech seized the weapon. “This is bullshit”, muttered Lech. “I don’t see why I have to prove anything to anybody.” But, in taking the weapon, Lech knew that he had lost. Pulling up his hoodie some more against the chill that remained in the air, he grasped the weapon.
“Where are they?”, he questioned.
“They are just down in the village, in the barn.” Zlatan vaguely waved a arm. “Borja is guarding the outside. He will show you.”
Lech walked slowly. He was clearly unhappy with the impending executions. He turned, as if to stop, but felt Zlatan’s glare once again, and resumed.
“Hurry”, hissed Zlatan. “Get a move on, Lech. Show some enthusiasm, for God’s sake. And remember”, he added, “there will be eyes watching you down there.”
Lech trudged to the barn. Borja, an ageing man a generation older than Lech, was standing resplendent in a bright red checked shirt, his own shotgun in hand, at the door.
“Are they in there?”, asked Lech, grimly. He might as well get this over with.
“They are locked in the barn. On my mark, I will open the door, you will step in quickly, and I will close the door behind you. Are you ready?”
Lech nodded, expressionless. His mind was racing, thinking about the destruction he was about to wreak. But he could not lose face. Resolutely, he uttered, “Okay, let’s get this done.”
Borja pulled the door, Lech silently stepped inside, and the door closed swiftly behind him. Though it took Lech some time to become accustomed to the relative darkness of the barn, he began to make out the movements of two figures, who were so far oblivious to his presence.
Outside the barn, Zlatan had by now appeared.
“Where is he?”, he addressed Borja. Borja nodded at the barn.
“He’s in. He surprised me, that one. I didn’t think he had the guts.”
“Meh,”, replied Zlatan. “He’s okay, really, he just needed some encouragement.”
The two were interrupted by the POP-POP, as a double explosion came from inside the barn.
A minute later, there was a knock from the other side of the barn door. Borja opened it a crack, to see Lech. “It is done.”
“Show me”, ordered Borja, as he stepped past Lech into the barn.
One by one, Lech revealed the blood-soaked corpses of two freshly shot rats.