15minutefiction: Retaliation

Originally posted here, in response to the prompt “retaliation.” It’s a weird’un, but here it is.

“For every one of ours…!” Zay’s voice filled the stone building and echoed back at them from the corners; every man and woman there picked up the call and shouted it back at him.

“For every one of ours, three of theirs. For every three of ours, fifteen of theirs. For every fire, a conflagration. For every bullet, a cannonball!”

Aisa stood in the doorway, not in the hall, not participating, but observing. She was not part of their village, nor part of the neighboring town on which they would call down their vengeance. She would have no part in this, none but to watch. Someone had to bear witness, after all.

“For every daughter of ours,” Zay prompted the crowd,

“Three sons of theirs!” they roared back. It was a wonder they couldn’t be heard from the neighboring hall. Then again, they were probably shouting something similar there.

Aisa, unseen, shook her head. She had heard this before, seen it before, in countless small towns, small feuds blossoming into giant bloodbaths. Some old-time philosopher had said “an eye for an eye makes the whole world blind.” Here, it left dead cities, in wastes that couldn’t afford the devastation. It was as if something had turned even more feral, nastier, in the surviving humans, that made them seek bloodshed, perversely, when they could least afford it.

“We will go to their center square!” Zay hollered.

“We will go into their streets, into their bedrooms,” the crowd yelled back.

“We will take their children, three of their for every one of ours.” He raised his fist to the sky. They all raised their fists to the sky.

“And we will raise them as our own,” the village yelled.

“Three of theirs…

“For every one of ours!”

It was amazing they couldn’t hear this all the way to the other coast.

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