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Burning The Nations
"Hold them high," Cyrus said.
The two Officers held up two flags. The German flag and Australian flag.
The red cross on the Australian flag made the man think of his flag of England.
"If any of you here are from these countries step fourth," Cyrus said in the same casual tone that he had used when talking to Sakong. Two men stepped out, one from the same row that the man was in.
They stopped before the Officers holding the flags. The exchange happened quickly and two soldiers held the torches in their right hands.
"You know what to do," Cyrus said.
"We do Cyrus!" the two men said at once and swung their hand toward the tips of the leaning flags. The bursts of flame scorched at the fabric and the flags were no more. The clangs and gongs of the poles hitting the ground around the ashes sent a shiver down his spine all over again.
The process of burning continued, but the man could not look when they were set afire. When the sixth batch of burning was done the man shifted his eyes to the diminished pile of flags. His was at the top of the pile. He held his breath as all four Officers approached the pile. To his bewilderment they ignored the England flag seemingly brushing it aside and instead pulled out all the others.
This time the man did not even check to see which were the victims although he did know that the United States and Brazil were among them. Ever since the first three batches Cyrus had not called anybody fourth as he expected them to come on their own accord. What the man could not help but wonder was would what happen if a particular flag did not have representative? Would it still be burned? He already knew the answer. Of course it would. Cyrus spoke like he was serious about uniting the world, but this barbaric act of ritualistic burning was... evil.
Evil. That was a word that the man did not believe in. He only believed in the bloodthirsty nature of man. And that was fact. The evidence was right in front of everybody, every second that they breathed. The man looked straight down at the pile of ashes and poles on the ground as the flags were lit.
When the naked poles fell to the ground they clonged like a clock signaling the end of the day. The man knew his time had come. The man returned his filed of vision to eye level and watched as Cyrus walked toward the last flag in the pile. His. Cyrus scooped up the flag in one swept movement and held it high.
The man could almost feel the tears come as the flag hung in the air perfectly aligned with the moon. How he missed his family. His wife, his beautiful twin daughters, Susan and... Moony. The man would not let anyone burn his flag and marched up to Cyrus.
"And we save the last for the stranger," Cyrus said. "And your name soldier?"
"England," the man said without a hint of lying even though it was nothing but one.
A smile formed on Cyrus's lips. It was a blood chilling sight to see him appear to be the kindest of men right before your eyes, personally. "You know what to do," Cyrus said handing him the torch.
The man did a smile of his own and said, "Yes I do." He slapped the torch out of Cyrus's hand and it bounced on the ground with a thud that made it sound like a bomb in the deathly silent courtyard.
"England, if that is even your name," Cyrus said, not even hinting at being angry, "would you kindly pick up the torch and do what everybody else has done without hesitation."
"England, what are you doing?"
"Why do you have to ask?" the man said. "Was it not the American people that began to show their heart and bravery by being Patriots?"
"Titus," Cyrus said.
The man kept his eyes locked on Cyrus as Titus's footsteps neared. He heard Titus retrieve the torch from the ground. The man felt so proud of himself. He could not wait to tell his wife and daughters of standing up for his country, but most of all them.
Suddenly the man felt a tremendous blow to his face. He hadn't even seen Cyrus move his arm before his fist connected with his forehead, just over the eyes. He didn't even feel the pain of his body hitting the hard courtyard floor as his entire body had gone numb from Cyrus's savage blow.
If you want to be like a Patriot than you shall die like one," Cyrus said before tossing the England flag on him.
The man reached for it and hugged the cloth to his chest like a child would his favorite blanket.
"Lamont, Devlin, Titus, Oliver," Cyrus said. They approached the man, the torches in their hands. "Light up the Patriot."
The man had been fantasying about telling his family this story before the flames burned his flesh. He screamed as he burned along with the flag.
Cyrus and the others walked away and left him to scream alone.
As the flames licked away at his life the man felt tears trickle down his cheeks. The flames sizzled where they slid. With a pain that he felt deeper than the flames the man knew that he would never make it home. Would never see his wife again. Would never hold her. Would never see his daughters. He would never be able to make them smile, even though it was truly them that made him smile.
He trembled, not from the flames, but from his yearning to be with his family. And then his body went on the moment that his heart stopped beating. He died of a broken heart.
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