It was dark. The sort of darkness permeated by sleeping ghosts and virulent memories. It was not a quiet darkness; no, there were screams of gunfire and a cacophonous harmony of war scorching whatever silence there might have been in the night. There were no stars illuminating the sky, only shadows. Lesser degrees of blackness by which to see: the trees were gray as ash, for they had burned with the rest of the German countryside. They had burned with their people who no longer lived here, in this clearing that might have once been a home to a family. Jack didn’t know them, and they didn’t know him, but his fighter jet had smashed through their trees and if the pines hadn’t already been dead then the ground would have been soaked in sap red as blood.
He was alone. There was nothing but the occasional starburst of anti-aircraft fire that lit the foreign, monochromatic sky. The rotted carcass of his plane sighed in the night, stole Jack’s frosted breath from his lips and he could taste the