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During his gradual recovery from a chronic disease, a musician and luthier had traveled to a beautiful foreign land. Just to get away, relax in scenic beauty, and maybe find some musical inspiration. He left the crowded, distracting cities to travel all the way to a border town so he could enjoy the best sceneries there were.
Then the war broke out.
Everyone lost their minds and chaos ruled. In the midst of all this, he found a boy with a broken leg, crawling against the stream of people running away from the fighting.
He couldn’t just leave the poor boy. He tried to pull him away from danger, but the kid showed him a picture of a girl and pointed deeper into town. With haste, he helped the boy get to where he wanted to go: a large laboratory. There was screaming coming from the inside.
They followed the sounds deeper into the building until they encountered a small girl stabbing a female scientist to death.
The girl passed out and the boy crawled to her immediately. There were three corpses at the scene, two in white lab coats. A picture on the wall showed the dead people and the two kids, all happy and smiling.
The musician was still shell-shocked, but with the war outside, dangers were already on the doorstep again. He took it upon himself to protect the kids from the war. The boy’s name was Kai and the girl’s was Kira. They showed him the few underground lab rooms that they had access to, and the three of them made it their home while the war raged on outside.
Yet another day on this horrible battlefield.
With those same eyes, with that same face, Kira has killed again. We were just out on a quick supply run when some young men jumped us. I couldn't stop her in time.
Kai didn’t react much; he must be used to it by now.
I know that I’ve got to do something to fix this, but the whole situation is just too overwhelming for me to handle. The stabs of pain still haunt me every day, even though the disease has stopped getting worse.
Before I got sick, I once had to babysit my brother’s kid, so he and his wife could enjoy a holiday somewhere on the coast. The boy was well behaved. He always listened to adults and was perfectly polite.
Yet just taking care of him for one day was more exhausting than a 16 hour shift at the factory.
Now I’ve got two strange kids to take care of. They don’t even speak my language. And the days just seem to go on forever.
Kai and Kira have already entered the basement, but I’m still here playing my violin in the light of this melancholy sunset. There was a big battle in the east earlier this morning, so it’s been quiet for a while now. I just don’t want to miss the chance to play some music out here, in nature. I don’t think I’ll ever get another opportunity. I choose a peaceful Baroque song I’ve just learned to play.
I chastise myself for the horrible tempo. Even though I know that the soul and character of a song comes from imperfection, I still want my performances to be perfect. I can always move along with the music if I want more emotion. But this sloppy tempo is just too painful to listen to. What a horrible day this is.
I sigh, carefully putting the violin back inside its case. I plod up the handful of steps to get inside the house.
On the way in, I find a multitude of dark splotches that look like blood, but smell strongly of ink. They’re scattered all over the floor, but they seem to lead somewhere. I carefully follow the marks. They lead to the bodies of the two scientists who had been living with the children.
I try to hold back my lunch as I look at the gaping holes where the chests of the two scientists have been torn open. Empty cavities stare back where their lungs and hearts should have been.
Around the wounds are sharp and decisive bite marks, as if a huge beast had ripped the scientists open and eaten their innards.
There are no blood stains around the corpses. Only ink marks. Hundreds of them, scattered violently all around the room, like some kind of macabre modern art painting.
None of the dark purple-black marks are spatters of blood. Did the beast lick up every last drop?
Suddenly the danger of the situation sinks in, and I immediately run to Kai and Kira.
Thankfully, they’re still safe, but there’s no time to waste. I quickly lock all the doors, then recheck every corner of the rooms.
After having checked and rechecked everything to make sure the rooms are safe, I catch my breath and finally feel a sliver of relief.
We have dinner in silence. I make sure the kids have brushed their teeth and then go lie flat on my back.
I soon fall asleep.
I wake up after a dreamless night, feeling tired and empty.
Kai is still fast asleep. Kira, on the other hand, confirms that I’ve awakened, staring at me with her blank eyes, and then stares into space impassively, holding her favorite doll in her arms, as always.
I brush my teeth, wash my face, then go to the kitchen to prepare breakfast. I think of my old house, back in the homeland. It was just a small box of a house but it had a nice warm bath.
I really wish I could take a bath.
Once breakfast is ready, I go to wake Kai up. As always, he opens his eyes lightly and then closes them again. He’s awake, he just needs a little more time and effort to get out of bed.
Funny how a single blanket could turn a leopard into such a harmless sloth.
After leaving a hot water bowl and Kai’s face towel next to his mattress, I head back to the kitchen.
To my surprise, the old wooden dining table has already been set. Kira sits in her place, still holding her doll impassively. Her eyes are as blank as always, but I know she’s gradually changing.
With such a simple action, she has blown away all of my worries and exhaustion.
Even though my body is tired, my smile has finally come back. I pick up my violin, gently rub Kira’s head, and then start playing a few of my favourite pieces. Kai, having finally left his bed, ambles closer to listen to my music. His face is unwashed, as expected, and Kira is still not reacting much.
But I don’t mind. I continue to play with a smile on my face.
During the entire meal, Kai talks to Kira in excited tones. I guess he had some really good dreams last night. Kira doesn’t reply often, and when she does, her voice is so quiet that I doubt even Kai could hear it.
But I could see her subtle smile every now and then. The whole atmosphere is really warm. It reminds me of Sunday dinners when I was a kid.
We don’t have to go out today. After cleaning up, I just stand in the corner of the room, watching the kids play.
I haven’t been in such a good mood for a long time, so I decide to seriously clean up and reorder the rooms. I haven’t really cleaned at all since we started living here a few days ago, and I want the kids to live in a clean environment anyway.
I start with the books that Kira piled up in the corner after finishing them. I wish I could understand the language, just to know what she’s been reading. There are some books with silly covers, but most of them are too generic to guess.
With all the books in my arms, I head to the library room.
This one… goes here.
Title starts with L… there, that last row.
This last ro..
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