A Beacon Of Hope

Seagulls fluttered on the ocean wind, circling like vultures around the half-dead refugees. Parched lips awaited rain clouds in the distance that never arrived. Children wailed, their parents too weary to tend to them. Boats on the horizon drew their hope, then dashed them against the rocks as they turned away. The air was heavy with the smell of blood. The smell of pain. The scent drew the grim reaper ever closer…
The tense air reflected in the boat people’s drawn faces and taut hands. Pirate boats sounded victory in the distance and the screams of fallen fellows carried on the breeze. A child called for food, and was despondently handed a dried yam. Lin stuffed it in her mouth and tried to swallow, the grey goop sticking to her tongue like glue. She coughed and others replied with their own sounds of discomfort… an odd cough here, a hack there, and the sick and injured moaned in pain.
Lin’s own mother was one of them. She was eight months pregnant and although she was trying her hardest to bear the sea conditions, the baby knew no better and kicked in time with the rocking of the boat. She was ridden with nausea and fatigue, her face sallow as the baby sapped what little strength she had left. Lin knew no words to describe the boat. She knew no words to describe what happened to her father. She knew no words of sorrow, yet her world was exactly that.
A green boat idly cut through the waves, turning heads and straining necks. The starvation had dulled their senses so they could not see the military flag on the hull. It appeared to notice the crowded boat and turned in their direction. A wooden bridge was swung down and landed loudly on the edge of their boat. The soldiers boarded, jolting their boat on the waves with every step of their heavy combat boots. Wizened hands offered the children in their direction. They swiftly picked them up and passed them along. The women were next; Lin’s mother went first, she hitched up her tattered skirt and was walked onto the military vessel. The men came behind, helping their wives and parents.
Lin was walked down a long, echoing corridor, she could smell coal and steam burst out of pipes at random intervals. At the end of the hallway, a beam of light illuminated the dust motes dancing in the air. She stood on tiptoes and peered out the window. Below the sky, a small speck in the distance became larger, and in a faraway city, someone cried.


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