Thursday, November 16, 2006
Fear in 10 Hurt Comfort
Character: Luka Kovac
Summary: Luka tries to comes to terms with life after Vukovar
Warnings: Deals with potentially sensitive subject matter related to the War of Independence.
Notes: This ficlet explores more of Luka's experiences in the displaced person's camp following his escape from Vukovar. I have previously touched on this time in my longer fics Ghosts, Time Heals all Wounds, and For One Life which I co wrote with M. Blais. All three can be found on the journal link on my profile page. For the already completed prompts to this Challenge Community visit the Chart at: http://dr-luka-kovac.livejournal.com/24138.html
How long could he hold his breath? How long could he pray that they wouldn't find him, that his fate wouldn't become the same as those he'd left behind at the hospital, or those gunned down in the streets as they tried to escape to safety? Squeezing his eyes closed he buried his face in the crook of his arm to shield it from the falling dust and gravel, and to muffle any coughs that might break through.
The wait for the men searching the building around him to leave seemed to take forever and it was equally terrifying. Would the wallboard that concealed him from the Serbian soldiers be strong enough to support their weight of them as they walked back and forth conducting their search? Would the next step one them took disturb the board that hid the small opening that separated life from death for him?
He could smell the smoke from their cigarettes, he could feel them burn at his throat with each breath he took. Is that how he would die then? Would he suffocate as their smoke and the dust from their footsteps stole away what little air his hiding place offered him? Had he made it this far only to die from lack of air before he could make his escape?
The crack of an isolated gunshot sent the men into gales of laughter and he was forced to swallow back his own bile as they joked of someone's death as if it meant nothing. Then, suddenly, from nowhere a hand had his shoulder and he realized he'd somehow given himself away, his fate would soon be that of those from the hospital, his life was over.
"Luka, shhh...quiet, it's just a dream...shhh..." The words came quietly in Croatian close to his ear, as he slowly came awake in the darkness.
"It's okay son, you're safe, it was just a dream." Sitting up on his cot Luka gulped for air as the old man whose cot sat next to his rubbed his hand over his back. The remnants of the dream were still lingering, but as the man continued to offer reassurance, they began to recede, and for tonight, the fear had been defeated