“No Glory”

Publié le 2 mars 2018 Mis à jour le 5 mars 2018

Roulement de tambour… Le Mansfield Prize a été attribué ! Ce concours de nouvelles en anglais organisé par l'équipe de littérature du département anglophone de l'UFR LCE a trouvé sa plume gagnante...

Et il s'agit de celle de Claire Lebeuze-Moreau, étudiante en L1 anglais. Le Phare Ouest lui adresse ses plus sincères congratulations et vous livre en exclusivité la nouvelle qui lui a permis de remporter cette récompense (qui se compose d'une anthologie Sherlock Holmes, d'un pass pour le festival America, et d'un stage d’écriture avec l’écrivain en résidence du festival America, Makenzy Orcel). Nous félicitons également le jury et les organisateurs pour leur travail et pour cette initiative que nous espérons retrouver l'année prochaine. Mais pour le moment, let's read !

In the wake of an explosion, dust still swirling in the suffocating air, people stood, shaken and shocked. Statistics would be shown on the following morning, meaningless numbers that failed to truly grab the horror of the aftermath. Mourning would come soon enough, from relatives and companions lost to wasted opportunities. However, as the world paused, two figures laid down in the ruins of what had been the personification of the government, disoriented and dazed. They remained still as they stared at the destruction, aware that the coup had ended but questioning its success. Their gazes met over the debris, deaf to the reality beyond the ruins as their focus zeroed on each other. Silence enveloped them as they scrutinized their adversary, brows furrowed above jaded eyes expressing their mutual distaste.

The woman was the first to break eye-contact, though she cautiously kept the man in her visual field, glancing swiftly down at her body. She could feel her blood trickling down her injuries. With her rudimentary knowledge of medicine, she knew that unless an ambulance came in the following minutes, she wouldn’t live to see twilight, even less so the sunrise. Flicking her attention back on the guilty man, she squinted to evaluate his condition. While she figured that it was an infection coupled with blood loss that would condemned her, she knew that he was dying of multiple hemorrhages, according to his wounds. He would indubitably depart before her.

In the unnatural calm that hovered stiflingly above them, the world tilted again, ignoring the myriads of existences whose reality had crashed down into an unfathomable pit. Their ears popped, sounds rushing back in a cacophony unwelcome and terrible. Crying voices pleading for a love one to appear or respond. Shouts screaming their fury over the unfairness of agony. Litany of cracking sobs reassuring cooling bodies that peace would find them in the afterlife. Endless questions addressed to missing companions. Any whisper was drowned into the disharmonious noise, unheard sorrow buried beneath loud ones. They heard a female voice frantically calling for her child, voice brimming with heavy denial and imploring hope. There was no answer.

The man sucked in a painful breath, eyes already dimming. He made no effort to check on his injuries. He had caught the woman’s look when she had resumed her staring. He had understood that there was no chance of surviving for any of them. This time, it was he who tore his gaze away to observe the wrench of a place that would be his grave. A tomb that he had a hand in creating, thanks to his intellect and his convictions. He had yet to decide if he was satisfied or regretful. Dragging his eyes back on the woman, he tuned out the alarms from ambulances, firefighters and police alike. He wondered how many had died. He wished he knew how many people he would join for the last journey.

In the contemplative mood that their thoughts had plunged them, sirens spread out in the distressed and damaged city. Buildings were groaning as their weakened structures threatened to collapse on stunned citizens. Cars and trunks stopped in the middle of the road, letting bemused crowds wander from destroyed zones to intact areas. Services struggled to get through, guiding helpless pedestrians back on the sidewalks and counselling them with quick but firm words, and arguing with troublemakers excited by the confusion. People split into two distinct groups, from the ones who wished for the brought and building chaos to the ones who wished for order to settle and appease them. And yet, no one could tell clearly which side was victorious as they all lamented over loss.

The woman and the man stared back at each other, listening to the keening of the mother whose child remained unseen and unheard of. They each found that they prayed for the duo to be reunited, one with undisguised concern and the other with unmistakable guilt. The realization startled them for they had been enemy mere hours earlier, when he had burst into the governmental offices and rampaged until the planted bomb exploded with none being the wiser. They began to wonder about the other, about their reasons for coming earlier this morning, about their convictions that led them to their imminent passing and about their choices in following a leader they barely knew.

In their last precious moments, questions could be asked and inquiries could be answered. The unabashed truth would lay bare at their cooling feet as nothing could be lost in the short time they had left. The thoughts crossed their minds with a relieving and electrifying clarity. It stirred their fading consciousness enough to spark life back in their glazing eyes

“What were you attempting?” She asked first, half-knowing the answer but needing confirmation.

“A coup.” He rasped, spitting blood before swallowing back drops of rusty iron. “It was inevitable.”

She gave a weak but derisive laugh. “Tired of the government?”

“Tired of corrupted Ministers and other officials. People want to overthrow them.” He confirmed with a grunt. “Tried…” He coughed, cutting himself off, feeling his strength declining at each one of his words. “Tried to set things into motion. Tried to improve things.”

She pointedly looked around, insisting on the ruins around them, and regretted the action when she started to feel nauseous at the effort.

“We don’t share the same definition of ‘improvement’.” She coughed up in a dry tone, taking in a shuddering breath.

He wheezed a laugh, agony flaring in his chest. It ended into a painful fit, choking on blood and desperately gulping for air. She watched his struggle with sympathetic eyes but didn’t offer encouragements nor comforting words. She was dying because of him, or rather, because of his group, after all. Only saints would commiserate and seek to relieve their executioner’s suffering. She was no saint. Neither was he.

“People died.” She stated flatly, their condition and the constant cries of the district reminding them of the terrible fact. “People will die.”

“We’ve achieved our goal.” He stiffly retorted.

“Have you?” She shot back harshly. “Have you really?”

“Aren’t these sounds proof enough?” He asked as his features spasmed, muscles contracting as his body began shutting down.

“I’m only hearing the grief of hundreds of people.” She snarled and then winced, the movement agitating her bleeding wounds. “I’m not hearing the triumphal trumpets nor the crowing clamors from your friends. They must be hidden in the sorrowful shouts and suffering sobs.”

They fell quiet as the mother’s sudden howl pierced through the air, overwhelming every other sound, and they knew that she had found her child. The silence that followed was deafening and as painful as their wounds, crushing their lungs in a tight grip. They locked eyes one last time, acknowledging that it was their last minute on this earth, as black spots crept in their vision and a cold numbness spread in their limbs.

“You know, I almost wish you’re victorious in your quest.” She admitted in a voice almost too low to be heard. “This way, no one would have died in vain.”

He didn’t answer. He couldn’t, unable to give her a reply that would be both truthful and genuine, that wouldn’t feel as if he was tearing his heart out of his chest to offer meaningless words. Instead, he gave his own confession.

“I don’t know.”

She was still staring at him, eyes burning with a mix of contempt, bitterness and despair.

“Was it worth it?” She murmured, watching as life drained from him. “Was it really worth it?”

His dull eyes stared back at her, blank and soulless. He had already left, taking her question and his answer with him. With the last of her strength, she turned her head away as she refused to have his corpse as her last sight. Instead, she focused what was left of her senses to gaze at the crumbled ceiling above her. And yet, she couldn’t see the sky nor pieces of the roof. Her last enquiry was sluggishly swimming in her mind as ice froze her veins and as a fire born from her wounds devoured what life was left in her.

He took her voice with him as he left, and she took the numerous cries of shattered souls with her as she sighed her last breath.

In the wake of the explosions, numbers were given about the casualties. Information was shared over and over again. Culprits were found and accused. People raged and cried, ephemeral hatred seeking targets to relieve their bursting feelings from too tight chests. As the clock struck the end of the day, no one would rejoice in the victory of one over the other. It would only be remembered as one of the most darkest date on the memorial calendar.

The End.

Mis à jour le 05 mars 2018