Short Story Preview: Army of Angels – Gabriela Harding
They lay down on their stomachs, fifteen, maybe twenty of them, two neat rows lined on the ground behind the cars, their hands on their rifles.
If I go now, I may have a few seconds before they start firing. The silence echoes in my ears. One second, ten, twenty. Black holes left by bullets in the distant walls look at me, hundreds of eyes waiting for my move. I crouch behind a van. Petrol drips on the cracked ice.
If I go now, maybe they won’t shoot just as I’m walking through them.
When I’m close enough for them to see me, I slow down. My right foot on the road. The snow sticks to my soles. My left foot, heavier. My right foot. My left.
I walk, looking down at my feet.
Emil is going to fire. He’s suddenly gone very still. The snow falls.
He was wearing a mask. The man was wearing a mask. There, the snow is not yet red. I’m not dead, either. The air is grey and the gunpowder falls from the sky. Debris falls. Tiny bits of wood and metal. I sweep them off my coat. Pull my hood on.
The General looks old and tired. Something hangs from his hand, brushing the ground. Is it a stocking?
“You were wearing a mask, you bastard …”
The General is crying. Large tears fall down his cheeks like ice drops. He pulls out his gun.
“You’re making a mistake.”