Word Count: 1106
Writing: 1 hour 5 minutes
Editing: 24 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour 29 minutes
Sadness echoed through the boy’s heart like screams in the dungeon. He stared at the blood that soaked into the wooden floor of his house. It was ironic he thought, that the same floor his father had worked so hard on, had put his own blood, sweat, and tears into, now once again soaked them up. Preston tried to tell himself it was his fault, tried to take responsibility for his families slaughter by attributing it to his absence. But he knew the truth. Had he been with them when the endo’s showed up his body would lie next to the rest.
He stared at the badge in his hand, an ancient relic that had been passed down in his family through time. Sheriff, read the badge; his family name. Sworn protectors of the weak and defenders of the realm. Timeless warriors who kept the good people safe for as far back as history could remember.
Preston put the badge in his pocket and calmly walked over to his father’s body. His long hair covered the partially exploded face and that was fine with the boy. It almost made him look like he was alive; almost. The people were waiting for him to come out and address them, their new leader. He always knew he would follow in his father’s footsteps, he just hadn’t known it would be after only twelve years on the Earth.
It’d been three days, at first he hadn’t known what to do, he just sat and cried. It was what he still really wanted to do, maybe forever. But his father taught him about a man’s responsibilities and more, the responsibility of a Sheriff. Preston was a born leader, with or without a family.
The little boy blinked away tears as he lifted the heavy dead weight of his father and began to drag him to the back door. That’s where the mortician would pick up the bodies when the time came. As he walked through the kitchen his family had eaten so many meals in, he heard a rustling moan coming from the basement and his heart leapt to his throat. Not yet, he said to himself. Preston had to deal with his family first, then would go downstairs.
He dropped his father by the backdoor gently without looking at what was left of the man’s face and turned quickly to go grab the next body. Mom. The bloody trail that was left from moving the body reminded Preston of the snails he’d been happily playing with only a few days prior. When everything was normal and his family was still alive.
His mother was on her belly in the living room and it made him happy he wouldn’t have to see her face either. She lay on her handmade purple carpet that was now a crusty brownish black. At least she died in the place she most loved, thought Preston. He grabbed her feet around the ankles in the crooks of his elbows and began dragging the body. She was a petite woman and moving her felt like moving a feather compared to his father.
At the back door, he looked away as best he could while he propped his mother against the wall next the man she loved. More muffled noises were climbing the basement stairs and there was a flash of anticipation in the boy’s belly. He had to fight the urge to run down the stairs right that second. Family first. Preston quickly turned and followed the snail trail back to the foyer where his father had lay. The last body was in the room to his left, the playroom.
He stared through the open doorway and the pain in his torso almost knocked him to his knees. It was a combination of every bad emotion he’d ever been taught words for and at that moment he didn’t want to be a man. He didn’t want to be Preston Sheriff, son of Paul and the next protector of the people. He wanted to cry into his father’s shoulder while he told him everything would be all right. But he knew that wasn’t an option. That life was as dead as the little girl in the next room, and Preston took a deep breath before he walked through the doorway.
There was no way to avoid her empty gaze, it was why he’d chose to get her last. The tears raced down his cheeks as he walked toward his little sister. She sat in her favorite spot under the window, her white dress a dark red from the single hole through her chest. It took everything inside of the boy to hold back the sobs, at least until he carried her to the back door with the rest of the family. Her body was the lightest of all, but the heaviest for the boy to carry. He tried not to look at her face, but it was no use. The two stared at each other, eye to eye, until he set her down by the door with the rest of his family.
More noise came from the basement and this time he let the anger free. Turning quickly he stared at the basement door listening to cries from below. He felt a smile spread across his face, it was a sinister expression he’d never worn before. Preston stood and basked for a moment in the pain that tormented the endo below before walking down the stairs.
The man was tied up and slumped over with a large multicolored bruise on his head where Preston had hit him with the baseball bat.
“Hello,” said the boy in a wavy voice. “You killed my dad.” It was all he could think to say.
The man hadn’t had food or water for three days and could only make weak gargling noises. Preston didn’t mind, though, he hadn’t come to talk with the man. He walked over his father’s sword and drew it from its sheath. Guilt was trying to creep into the excited vengeance that brewed in his stomach. This wasn’t what his father would do, Sheriff’s were supposed to forgive and seek fair trial for all. But his father taught him well, and he knew that sometimes as a man one had to make hard decisions.
Preston stared at his reflection in the shining metal, but the boy who had been there only days before couldn’t be found. He turned to the endo gang member who met his eyes, and Preston smiled at the fear he saw there. His decision was made, and there would be no fair trial.