Bonfire, Part 2

Wendy startled awake at the sound of crunching leaves nearby. She bolted upright, grabbing the thick branch she kept nearby. Everyone else was still asleep, well anesthetized by last night’s celebration. The man that stood among them was nobody she knew. And he wore a uniform. He turned to her with a quiet smile.

“Looks like quite the party you all had,” he said. “I can’t tell you how glad I am to find so many of you here.”

“Who are you?” Wendy snapped. It had been years since she’d had a coffee, but she still hated waking up.

“Apologies,” the man said. He snapped into a salute. “Lieutenant Marshall Reeves. I’ve been sent to look for survivors. And to tell them the news.”

“What news?” Wendy stood up. Others around the camp were startling to awaken, looking blearily on at the pair of them.

“It’s over. There will be no more bombing. The enemy has surrendered.”

Wendy dropped her stick and stared. Her legs felt weak. “I – I – What? How?”

Reeves grimaced and looked a little sick. “Best we don’t go into that now. For now, help me wake up your friends. With resources freed up from the front, we’ve brought in food and medicine. Less than a mile away.” He started walking amongst those still sleeping, gently shaking them awake. “Your bonfire was fortunately timed. We saw the smoke when we were doing a recon pass last night.”

Wendy’s eyes blurred with tears. Her body shook all over. She had expected to die out here. They all had.

What would happen now?

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