"My name is Abraham, and I was a teacher before the war. When I heard the sirens on that dreadful day, I ushered the kids under their desks and pulled the shotgun out from the broom closet. We thought we could fight them off, but we were far from prepared for the slaughtering that took place. I shouldn't have survived, but I managed to escape with only a bullet in the chest. The ground shook and I blacked out."

"I woke up in a bus full of half-conscious survivors, some in better condition than others. I looked forward to see two soldiers with rifles pointed at us, screaming at various passengers to stay in their seats. I wanted to ask where we were going, but I was just too weak and tired. I looked over to see four passengers run up front. One was shot in the head, spraying blood everywhere. Two others tackled the soldiers to the ground, while the final passenger began to wrestle with the driver, knocking the bus into a tree, killing the two of them. The other passengers began to run out, while I stumbled to my feet. Two other men grabbed my arms and helped me out. We all started moving down a hill, while other soldiers began to pick off various escapees, including the man on my right. I could hear shots and screams all around me, the sound of bullets sheering past my ears. We both slid into a ditch and fell on top of each other, silently waiting. The sounds of soldiers running past us, bullets filling the air, and the sound of the howling wind...the orchestrated sounds of death."

"The morning hit me like a brick. Everything was throbbing in pain. I looked across from me to see the man that had saved my life, slumped and lifeless. It was the first time that I was able to see him clearly. His face was very gruff and tanned and his eyes were hidden under his matted, black hair. He had clearly been a prisoner for a long time, and yet he made my escape as much of a priority as his."

"I stood up to see what used to be a farm around the ditch we were in. The lifeless fields were filled with the buzzard-picked bodies from the bus. The barn doors were wide open, creaking in the relentless wind, the shining eyes of wolves peering through the darkness. The smell of death was pungent and overwhelming. I fell to my knees and began heaving."

"Just yesterday I was part of a community, and today, I stand before you as an escaped refugee of Azrael." The bearded stranger stood up and began to kindle the already massive fire.

"I have no place in this war, lad," he spoke with his back to Abraham, "I side neither the governments nor the soldiers. That is why I'm able to keep this home, Abraham." Abraham looked to the ground, still trembling from the cold. "But, that does not mean I am an evil man. I will let you rest here for as long as you need to." He turned to Abraham with a look of death. "But if it comes between my life and yours, I will turn you over without a second thought."

Abraham nodded, clutching his vodka with both hands. The alcohol swam through him like a burning fire, and immediately, Abraham could feel his nerves calming. He sat back in his chair, as the man sat down in his.

"Do you know anything about what is happening to the world?" The man leaned forward, prompting Abraham to do the same.

"A man should never have a serious conversation with a stranger, son. It's the most dangerous thing you can do to trust someone you haven't met." He stood up and held out his hand. "My name is Albert, and I used to be a broker before I retired to these mountains, Abraham. I fought in the wars that have plagued this world, but never have I seen an invasion with such little opposition before."

"Do you know who these soldiers are, or where they even came from s-I'm sorry, Albert?"

"Never have I seen men like these before. They are heartless bastards, and it would be wise to fear them." He puffed his cigar more rapidly.

Abraham set his empty glass on the table beside him. "Do you think we'll win this war?"

Albert was quiet for a long time, with the light of his face receding, as the fire began to die back into the coals. "A man doesn't ask questions so often, son. A man waits, watches, and reacts." He stood up and walked out of the now dark room. Albert moved to a couch in the corner of a room piled up with blankets and pillows, quickly made his bed, and closed his eyes. "A man waits, watches, and reacts" Abraham quietly repeated to himself as he drifted off.