My FB status was to read or to write, that is the question. Someone suggested a short story for FB. This was the result. It's very early here, okay... not even 6am yet
The Watcher by Clare Revell
To some it was a thankless task and a pointless exercise. The country of Ambleside hadn’t been attacked in years, well living memory to be precise. For centuries it had been at war with the neighbouring country of Esher. Then just as suddenly it had stopped. An awkward and fragile peace existed between the two towns, one that could be broken at any time.
So King Sabin of Ambleside insisted on the border being protected and on this remotest of remote outposts being manned at all times. Not that you could call it an outpost. Oh they did, but the three men who split the watch between them had other less savoury names for it. None of which are repeatable in company or the presence of small children.
From here they could just make out the roofs of Ambleside’s tallest buildings. The road stretched in a straight line as far as the eye could see in both directions. There was no cover therefore, they argued, an invading army would be crazy to attempt it. And was probably the reason why they hadn’t.
Mind you the watcher thought. With just me, sat here, in plain sight, it’d be me that gets picked off pronto like rather than them. But still he sat there, swinging his legs to relieve the boredom, watching and waiting for an attack which never came.
At least not from the direction everyone was expecting.
Relations suddenly got icy between Ambleside and Esher. As usual love was to blame. Crown Prince Haldis of Esher had fallen for Princess Awena, eldest daughter of King Sabin. For a while the two of them had snuck out, going for long moonlight walks, long rides in the sunshine and everything was fine.
Then King Sabin found out and blew his top. He forbade Awena from ever seeing Haldis again. This, as you would expect went down like a lead balloon. The Princess threw the biggest tantrum you have ever seen, quite unbecoming someone of her age.
It was said that her great, great, great, great, great, great, great grandmother had fallen for the prince of Esher and that’s what had caused the last war. King Sabin wasn’t taking any chances. Especially as Awena was the spitting image of her according to the painting in the great hall.
Across in Esher, Haldis was just as upset. He raged against his father and this stupid ban he’d imposed on him seeing Awena. But it didn’t matter what he did or what he said, the answer was NO. A short, sharp, irrefutable no.
Still the watcher sat on his post. They’d asked for extra personnel but hadn’t got them. He was one man on whom the security of his country depended. And that was to prove their undoing.
The watcher was found cold, silent and unmoving by his replacement. He called it in and soon there was a whole regiment of King Sabin’s finest men there. All in there red dress uniforms with gold trim.
They dismounted and crowded round the watcher. To start with they just stared then someone moved closer. A hand cautiously reached down to check for a pulse. Just in case. Pointless really, the staring eyes, the ever growing pool of blood, the cracked skull telling everyone what the result would be. A shake of the head. A collective sigh.
Hooves pounded on the cobblestones, bringing the tidings to the king. Footsteps echoed in the halls.
King Sabin looked up, angry at having been disturbed. "What's the meaning of this?"
"Sire," he began. He got low on the floor, trying to catch his breath. "The outpost... The watcher, he’s dead..."
The King rose to his feet. "What? How did this happen?"
“He was murdered Sire.”
King Sabin spun on his heel. “Call out the army!” he ordered. The death of the watcher could only mean one thing. An assault was planned and possibly underway. To avert certain disaster he had to strike first.
And that’s what he did. He used the new aerial assault weapons he had at his disposal. Within minutes they were launched and flying towards Esher.
Esher retaliated. Their defences were slightly more advanced, their weapons more deadly. Three mutual exchanges later most of Ambleside and Esher lay in ruins. Smoke rose from the destroyed buildings. People staggered, burning, crying and trying to find their loved ones in the burnt out shells of their wrecked homes and schools.
Out on the border two people sat by the body of the watcher. “I didn’t mean it,” she whispered. “I didn’t know he’d fall.”
He tried to comfort her. “I know, it was an accident.”
“But look what happened Hal. I snuck up behind him, made him jump and he fell off the wall. Look what happened because of that.”
“You weren’t to know, none of us were.” He paused as another two explosions shook the air, obliterating the two countries.
“Now what do we do?”
“Start over, somewhere new. Together.”
They slowly got to their feet and Awena watched as Haldis buried the body of the watcher – Um. T. Dumpty. Then they started walking, the last survivors of a destroyed civilisation.