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The Fear of Terror Behind Them

Story ID:10826
Written by:Michael Timothy Smith (bio, link, contact, other stories)
Story type:Fiction
Location:Forest Austria
Year:2016
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I entered the Writer's Weekly 24-Hour Short Story contest this weekend.

Below is the topic and word count and my entry.
I managed to get it submitted with only four minutes left in the deadline.

A heavy blanket of snow illuminated the night while cold
flakes pecked at her chapped cheeks. As she took another
deep breath, her ears winced at the broken silence.
Shivering continuously now, she trudged through the drifts,
avoiding obscure stumps and black, low-hanging branches. The
item she dragged behind her left a noticeable trail but she
knew it would be deeply buried by the storm come morning...

~~~~~

WORD COUNT: Stories for today's topic must not exceed 960
words.

The Fear of Terror Behind Them

Amena, held her small daughter, Asil, in her arms. The journey from Syria to the
Hungarian border was long. Her husband, Ranim, who joined the fight against ISIS, was
probably dead.

She wasn’t sure.

He joined the fight to protect his country from a new evil. Amena hoped he still fought
and was not dead.

The close explosions of battle made her look at her daughter, Asil, who played with a
hand-made doll.

Amena decided to flee. She lifted her daughter in her arms and carried her down the
street to the men who promised safe transport to Hungary. “You’ll be safe there.” They said.

After months of walking and travelling with other starving refugees, they arrived at the
Hungarian border.

Border guards blocked the highway. “No refuges can cross!”

Amena held her daughter, who stared up at her mother with dark shining eyes.
“Momma, are we save?

“Hush, child!”

Fear gripped Amena’s heart. She found it hard to breathe. She held her child in her
arms and listened to her companions argue with the unsympathetic border guards.

Amenia jumped, when a woman whispered in her ear, “There is another way. Come!”
Reluctant, but with no other choice, she followed the woman. She watched her breath fog the
unfamiliar cold air. Amenia had never experienced a winter this cold.

She caught up with the woman. “Where are you taking me?”

“We are a group who plan to cross Hungary to Austria. We know of a mission in
Hungary who help us.”

“Why did you pick me?”

The woman nodded her head at Asil. “The child. She is tired, hungry and cold.
In our group are many children. The Hungarians who help us do not want the children to suffer.”

They approached a group of people. Amenia stared at the women. She clutched Asil close
as a man approached. He turned and called out, “Listen to me!” the hundred or so refugees
turned to him. “We have reached our limit for this crossing. You are among the lucky chosen.
We have a day’s walk ahead of us. There is an unguarded crossing into Hungary.”

Someone called out, “How can we trust you? We’ve been robbed, abused and spit on
many times on our journey.”

The man, the obvious leader, turned in the direction of the voice, “You can trust us or
stay here and either freeze to death or starve. It’s your choice.”

The truth of his words was not lost on the group.

He walked to the head of the group and continued east, away from the border guards.

They were given rations of water and black bread, but always while walking.
There was no rest. When they felt the urge to relieve themselves, they stepped to the
side of the column and did it. There was no shame. They no longer had modesty. It had been
stripped from them many hundreds of miles behind them.

They came to a small frozen mud trail. Their leader stopped, turned and called out,
“This is where we will cross. Our Hungarian friends await. They have several trucks waiting.
You must stay with them. You cannot stay in Hungary. Stay with them. They will lead you
to crossing into Austria. If you try to escape into Hungry, they may harm you. They want to help,
but if you don’t follow their rules, you may expose their mission and put them in danger.”

There were grunts of acknowledgement from the wary group.

They followed their leader along the frozen mud track. Tall trees towered on both
sides, shielding them from the wind, but not the cold, which seeped through the traditional
clothing of Syria.

The trees fell behind them. The group entered a clearing. The engines of several trucks
roared to life. Their lights blinded the group, who had been in the dark for many hours.

A man approached their leader, “Another crossing complete. We’ll take it from here.
We’ll meet again in two days.’ The two men embraced and parted with smiles.

Their new leader warmly welcomed them, “Welcome to Hungary! In another day you
will be in Austria. It’s several hours drive from here, and you will have to walk over a mountain
before you are safely there.

“If you are caught in Hungary, you may end up in a concentration camp. Do not get
caught.”

They huddled in the back of the trucks, warmed by blankets given to them by their
rescuers.

The truck Amena and Ansil huddled in came to a sudden stop. The doors opened,
“Quickly!” Their new leader commanded. “Everyone out!”

They gathered in a crowd. The sky was still dark; the air frigid. Clouds of steam
swirled around every face.

They held the blankets tightly around them. Volunteers walked through the group,
handing out bread and water. A woman handed Amena a rope, which was attached to a
small sleigh. She smiled, “For your child.”

Amena Hugged her. She felt the strain of caring Ansil leave her back and arms, as
she sat her child into the sleigh. She wrapped a blanket around Ansil and followed
the group into the woods.

“Stay with us!” their leader called out. “It’s a long walk, but you will soon be safe.”

A heavy blanket of snow illuminated the night while cold flakes pecked at her chapped
cheeks. Shivering continuously now, she trudged through the drifts, avoiding obscure stumps and
black, low-hanging branches. The item she dragged behind her left a noticeable trail but she
knew it would be deeply buried by the storm come morning.

The storm froze them, but also protected them.

They were warmly welcomed at the Austrian border.

A new life waited them; the fear of terror behind them.

Michael T Smith
Word Count: 952