I awoke. The car had become part of the desert around it. In the night a dust storm had passed over, lightly covering both the taxi and the road but my determination forced me onto my hands and knees to dig the car out. Once on the road the going was slow. Wisps of wind, remnants of last night storm, still slipped over the gravel road throwing sand over and into everything. I attempted to keep out the sand by rolling the windows up but the heat became unbearable. Soon it over came me and I had to roll the windows back down. Shortly sand covered me, grit was stuck under my nails and sand got in my eyes. I drove on, pulling my car over to the side of the road whenever I heard or imagined a jet or propeller, and I would run haphazardly into the desert away from the taxi to dive into the sand until the plane, whether real or imaginary, passed over and I returned to the car with even more sand I my eyes. It was through those watery eyes I saw a pillar of smoke ahead on the road. A half hour later I passed the shell of a tank, smoke billowing out from its destroyed engine, its crew having abandoned it fearing the possible explosion of its shells. On the front of the tank a dozer blade had been installed to bash through tough terrain. It was covered in blood. There was more smoke ahead and I drove towards it while the sirens rang louder.
Smoke poured out of doorways and bodies littered the streets. Houses crackled and crumbled in on themselves as their wood burned and their walls collapsed. I had gotten out of the taxi now and I walked on unsteady feet through this nameless tragedy. It couldn't be my town it couldn't be. But it was. There was the well, its pipes now bent and split and there was the soccer field, now a mass of deep craters. The medical tent with the red crosses on white canvas made tempting targets for the aircraft overhead that bombed them again and again until nothing remained of the once bustling makeshift hospital. And over there was the ruins of a house I had built with my own hands and behind it was the bombed out shell of the new school. I could see a small body slumped in its doorway. Bodies were everywhere. Innocents lay next to their murders and their murder's murders. Tank tracks and boot prints covered them all. I didn't cry, how could I? My eyes had been watering the entire way here and now I found them to be completely dry, devoid of tears.
I left the village. I climbed slowly up the rise to where I had lain with Emily on those clear starry nights, the woes of the world forgotten in our embrace. Here my body sagged and I fell to a knee on the dried grass below me. I cupped my hands over my ears and the sound of the sirens died. There never had been any sirens in my village. Only in my head. My hands slid from my ears to my face covering my grief to the world. I stayed there kneeling wracked with grief for a long time.
It was on my knees that I received my miracle. Footprints. Dozens of them leading away from the village and into a mangy forest nearby. But my miracle was in the trodden path and it was Emily's blood red hair band. I raised my eyes to heaven and a halleluiah escaped my lips. I began repaying God for his kindness by repenting my sins promising never to sin again even to go so far as being a monk as long as my Emily was alive. I grabbed her hair band and in my clenched fist I raised it to my lips and whispered my eternal gratitude. Then half a dozen bullets tore through the air near me. I turned and looked in shocked horror as a dozen men poured out of an armoured car and charged up the hill towards me. Well maybe just a few more sins I thought as I brought my gun to bear.