Lofty Leaders

Here is a short story about war that involves a solider, who is traveling through a war-torn city.

He held the handle to steady himself, but still his head smacked against the roof and window. The ride was a series of jerks and jolts. With his free hand he flipped open his book.

You can taste the rich valley’s berries and smell the fresh water of the ancient river. He used his finger as a bookmark then rolled down the window. A gust of hot air toasted his face; already, sweat began trickling down the sides of his temples.

He closed his eyes picturing a river of fresh water. He imagined plump berries popping in his mouth, but when he opened his eyes he saw only the thick, deep cracks which coated the riverbed. The smell of dry clay filled his nostrils, his mouth salivated for water.

Lofty palm trees line the paved sidewalks and streets. Buildings of glass and steel loom over the city dwarfing the hillside. But the streets were now a mixture of rubble, concrete, and glass; all that remained of the buildings were their steel frames.

The city had survived three-thousand years and its ancient architecture speaks to the grace and strength of its  people’s culture. He closed the book, stepped out of the Humvee to stretch his legs. The buildings and houses which remained were covered in thick layers of dust; hospitals and schools had been reduced to piles of bricks and concrete.

Not one person roamed the street; they hid in what remained of their homes.

The sweat gathered beneath his helmet; he adjusted it slightly and then, for a second, doubt clouded his mind. Had we been swayed by lofty leaders?


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