Guess what!?! I actually set today’s post up last week, right after I wrote this snippet. Aren’t you proud of me? “All things considered,” I’m impressed. And that’s our #ThursdayThreads prompt from last week. The #lLineWed prompt is **REASSURING**. FYI, this scene happens in…probably Chapter 2. The very beginning of the book needs work so it might end up as Chapter 3, but yeah, it’s totally near the beginning.
The soldiers stood on one side of the barn, the children and their caretaker on the other. Petro held his rifle loosely but it was locked and loaded, ready for action. Meg couldn’t help but imagine an old West standoff like in the movies. She could almost hear the music. The boy standing between the groups presented the biggest threat. He held a bottle with cloth stuffed in the neck, frantically clicking an old Zippo lighter attempting to light the impromptu Molotov cocktail he’d made.
Meg had to diffuse this situation. Fast. She stood in front of him, her back to the soldiers. “Put it down, Maxim.” She spoke English. He answered in rapid-fire Ukrainian.
Petro spoke then, his voice calm but commanding, ordering the boy to surrender.
“They aren’t Russian, Max.” Megan put a lot of promise into her voice.
“How do you know this?” he asked in halting English.
“Look at their uniforms. Their weapons. Listen to their voices.” She glanced over her shoulder to the man in charge. “Say something. Please?”
Duke stepped forward. “My name is Duke Reagan. We here at the request of NATO to rescue Ms. Muir.” There was no mistaking his American drawl. “Give me the bottle, son. We aren’t here to hurt you.”
He came up beside Meg and took the bottle from the boy with no struggle. The kid looked at Meg, his eyes haunted and Duke’s gut twisted. He had no clue what was going on here and he needed to fined out ASAP.
“What about us?” Max asked. “Will you leave us behind?” He sounded as lost as he looked.
Duke looked to Meg for clarification. She didn’t disappoint but she damn sure complicated matters.
“They’re orphans. The orphanage was bombed. Most of these kids were in the infirmary. Evidently, there was no way to transport them so they were…left behind.” Her voice vibrated with anger tempered by compassion. “When I came on them, Petro—” She paused to point to the older man, and to pull the boy under her arm. “He was trying to get them somewhere safe.”
“So you stuck around,” Duke finished for her.
“Yeah. I mean…” She cleared her throat. “Yeah. They’re babies. They need medical care.”
Duke surveyed the kids then laid a reassuring hand on Max’s shoulder. “That I can help with immediately. At least a little. Brady, Shane. Grab your kits. We need some triage.” He gave Max’s shoulder another squeeze. “They’re PJs. Do you know what that is?” The boy shook his head. “They are a very special kind of combat medic.”
Meg nodded. “They are the very best of the best and fierce fighters too.”
The two men jogged over to the kids, massive medical packs in their hands. Max pulled away from Meg and followed them over.
Lowering his voice, Duke asked, “What’s his story?”
Meg sighed. “He stayed with his sister.” She nodded toward a little girl with hollow, pain-filled eyes.
“Maryska has cancer. She was getting chemo. Before the war.”
“Fuck.” Duke bit off the word. ‘Sorry.”
“You’re fine. I’ve said that word a lot since this fucking war started.” She turned her head to watch Galyna, who squatted next to Uri chatting to the dog. She was smiling so big, her eyes were mere slits. “You’ve met Galyna. The rest have a variety of illnesses or other problems. A couple we picked up along the way.” She inhaled and let it out slowly. “Parents dead in the bombings.”
Maxim reappeared, his face set and angry now. “You will leave us.”
“No, son. We’ll get you to safety.” He glanced back at the team. Every last one of them was hard core when it came to protecting the innocent and how much more innocent could these kids be? If he tried to scoop up Megan Muir and fly her out, he’d be facing a mutiny on all fronts. “All things considered, we don’t have a choice.”
And there you have it. It’s not exactly a spoiler because, hey, there wouldn’t be much story if they just grabbed Med and flew off into the sunset. Or in this case, they’d be flying east so I guess they’d be looking at sunrise. Writers, feel free to grab the prompts and run with them. We’d love you to share. **hint-hint** Readers, what are you considering doing today?