This was written for the 17 July Flash! Friday competition. The prompts for the week can be seen here, and included the photo below.
Brothers in Arms
Books were gathered in the town square. More were added as residents threw down volumes that fell with pages fluttering like dying moths in the flames. Everything had to burn. The choking smoke would wipe the slate clean. The pile grew; stories, poetry, history, science, the word of God. All had to be destroyed. From the ashes a new world would arise. A utopia. A world of peace. So they say.
A man tried running away with a few volumes clutched in his arms. Guards tackled him and he fell, his head cracking on the flagstones. Books fell to be scooped up and thrown onto the still growing pile. The historian was dragged to his feet and guns with live ammunition pointed at him. He put his hands in the air and surrendered to the inevitable. He saw behind the guards a figure flitting through the shadows. Some volumes would be saved.
The caught man looked at each guard in turn. The face behind one of the rifles was his brother’s. His finger was on the trigger. Doing his job just like the others. Without question, without thought. Without knowing how many times this scene had played itself out through time.
He closed his eyes and waited for the bullet. He did not want to see who fired first.