Short Story: Belonging

He would never really be one of them. Around him the music played, and the swaying bodies of half sober soldiers and their women, all covered in the stench of humanity, danced through the night. He sat at the bar. A young man was mixing drinks and chatting with some bimbos. The youth smiled and nodded at the stranger. Finishing one last parting joke, he left the laughing girls.

“What’ll it be?”

“What do you got that will kill me?”

The stranger could barely hear the youth chuckle as the soulless music blared.

“How’s rat poison?” the bartender asked.

“Wouldn’t do the trick,” came the reply.

The boy produced a mason jar full of clear fluid.

“Found this in one of the huts when we were looking for strays,” he explained. “It’s strong enough to blind a man.”

The moonshine was strong indeed.

Hours later, the last of the soldiers cleared the dance floor, retreating to the barracks. The stranger stepped out, gazing to the east. A warm steady light softly glowed like embers beneath the horizon, the promise of a new morning he would never see.

Staggering through the camp, he made his way toward the makeshift jail where two guards readied their rifles at the approaching shadow. As he stepped into the light, they stood down, saluting him. Inside the windowless building, he passed the cages. There the monsters stared at him, their betrayer, the inhuman nightmares growled as he walked freely. And finding an old chair, he sat in silence, studying his brethren. Here amid the shadows of night he would wait out the day, knowing that he would always be one of them.

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