A Season of Death
The summer sun had done its worst, drying the earth and creating the ready tinder for flames that had come so near. Great drifts of ash had covered every living thing and still the flames marched on seeking to destroy until they licked at the very edges of our remote outpost. Then came the rains hard and stinging. Water meant to heal the earth yet it fell too heavy and fast, soaking the ground until the mud began to slide. But we held on, clinging tightly with every fiber we could, we held on against the deadly flow and it did not take a one of us. The winds of a desolate winter began soon after that. Winds so very cold they made us think of nothing but survival as we stood our ground. We stood as the heavy snow grew deeper and we stood as the icy cold winds slowed the flow of our life blood so that only our very hearts held a spark of any warmth. And those of us who had survived this all before knew. We knew this was the season of fear. This was a time of death. And so they came.
One by one they marched toward us with weapons held at ready. Horrid they were to behold as they brandished their sharpened instruments of destruction. They hunted us, so very quiet in the cold and heavy snow; they lurked and stalked as each of them sought one of us as a victim. Again and again they came and we thought surely they would bring about our annihilation. There was no escape from the devastation of their weapons of war.
The first of them struck swiftly against the oldest of us. We watched as the ancient one trembled in those brief moments before death. And when the greatest of us was gone we wept tears unseen by our enemies. Then they began to take our young, those who had not yet even reached their prime. Those so young we called them babies still and naively thought them safe from this enemy. And I thought then that my heart would surely break. I prayed again and again, a simple prayer, to have one more chance to see the sun, and to feel the rain fall softly and I hoped to find an answer, to know the reason for this carnage. But no answer came, only the sound of my enemy when it was, at last, my turn. I vowed to meet my death noble and brave. Yet I too trembled as the weapon was wielded against my skin. I cried out as its deadly teeth bit deep into my heart. Those who stood around me wept for my lost life. No cries of ours were ever heard.
And these were last words I would ever know, “John, I declare this is the prettiest Christmas tree we’ve ever cut down. I can’t wait to get it home to decorate.”