I’m late again. Surprise, surprise.
Wind echoed across the field, casting the scent of blood through the matted switchgrass. Moments before, it carried the cries of the dying, and now there was only silence. Desmond shuddered under the breeze, though, from the chill or the blood loss, he wasn’t sure. The world began to blur at the edges, and he let out a whimper. His fifteenth birthday would be his last, and his final gift was a battlefield.
He was tall, the man who settled beside him, laying a hand on his shoulder, his breath rattling in his chest. “I’ve burned through this body,” he said with a laugh. “But I can fix yours. Are you afraid?”
Des shook as he stared up at him, but the tears that spilled down his cheeks was answer enough.
“Good. Good.” He stroked Desmond’s hair back, and smiled, following it with a rattly cough. “Will you let me fix you? My only price is sanctuary. Do you know what that means?” Again, Des shook his head, hiccupping on a sob. “Safety. Do you think that’s fair? You have to say so. Out loud.”
“Yes,” he moaned, and doubled over, clutching his belly. That hand brushed his hair again, and fell away. When he looked back at the rattly-voiced man, the pain was gone, and there was only a charred corpse where he was.
The pain disappeared, but then darkness closed around his mind.