It was dark when the boy woke up. A bright light beyond the glass building had penetrated through his eyelids, making him sit up in an instant. His sudden movement and his heavy breathing began an immediate chain reaction of the others waking up with him. The girl's eyes were open but she still lay with her shoulder to the ground.
'What is it?' she asked the boy.
The light had now disappeared, but the boy pointed in the direction of where he had last seen it. 'There was someone there,' he whispered. 'I saw a light and I think they're heading off somewhere.'
The adults quickly made it to their feet, directing the children to do the same. The man then grabbed Sofia's rifle and handed his switchblade to his wife. After telling her to stay and protect the others, the man then gestured for the boy to follow.
'I'm going to need you for directions,' the man reasoned.
When the boy began to tie his shoelaces, the girl stepped up.
'I'm coming with you,' she said.
Sofia flinched. She instantly strode over and grabbed her daughter's shoulder.
'No, you're not,' she demanded. 'It could be dangerous!'
The girl glared. 'Three's better than two, Ma. And you know I can fight!' she protested. Before her mother could react, the girl then said, 'I'm not a little girl anymore. Let me join them.'
Sofia didn't dare to show it, but she could feel her heart melt. The girl was right and there was nothing she could do about it. The man then looked her in the eye and assured, 'Don't worry, I've got your rifle. I promise nothing will happen us.'
When Sofia finally gave a nod, the three headed down the aisle. After walking out the door, Sofia followed and locked the door behind them. Briefly watching the three rush out into the open, she then returned to the remaining group.
The man, the boy and the girl trudged through the snow, eyeing all directions to make sure they weren't being followed. The wind was surprisingly light, barely hissing past their ears as they strode. The man would constantly ask for directions to which the boy would reply with what he had recalled. It was another few minutes before the man saw a light in the distance.
The three slowly walked towards, checking to see what they were up against. Luckily as far as they could see, it was just one man. He was holding a fiery branch in one hand and something else in the other arm. He appeared to be wearing a dark, tattered cloak of sorts, partially covering his trousers and grey jacket underneath. The three noticed that he was standing behind a bundle of broken branches.
The lone man placed that "something" down on the ground and circled the pile. By the time the group walked a bit closer, he bent down his fiery torch, setting the pile alight. The branches glowed a bright orange, attracting the man and the girl's main focus. But all this time, the boy stared at the "something" next to the flames. As far as he could see, it was no bigger than an average-sized bag and it was wrapped in a thick blanket.
Oddly enough, the stranger still didn't notice them coming closer and closer. With that, he walked over to the "something" and picked it up. He observed it for a moment, before a loud wail broke the silence. The boy's heart stopped. Frozen in shock, he never thought he would see something so atrocious again. As he watched the stranger carry the bundle over to the flames, the boy let out a long, horrifyingly raged yell.
The stranger jolted his head up, seeing the three breaking into a run. He stepped back, also about to break into a run, but the man was quick to arrive. The man pushed him down onto the ground, grabbing the crying baby in the process. The boy was second to arrive, angered tears streaming from his glare.
As the stranger tried to get up, the boy punched him across the face. The boy continued to rage, grabbing him and constantly striking him. The stranger's bloodied face did not calm him, and he continued to lift him and throw him to the ground. The boy became an endless supply of violent yells.
'It's...because...of...bastards...like you!' he screamed in between kicks, the stranger now on the ground, writhing in pain.
Clutching the baby in his arms, the man commanded for the boy to stop. But they were left unheard, and the boy attacked more viciously than ever. The girl rushed over, shouting what the man had shouted before and held the boy back. The boy tried to resist, attempting to leap onto the stranger. The girl clutched his elbows even tighter as the stranger, bloodied and almost blind, jumped up and took off.
'Get back here!' the boy yelled, still trying to release himself.
'Stop!' the girl begged. 'Please, don't!'
As the figure finally disappeared into the dark, the boy collapsed to his knees. The girl knelt down, hugging him as he began to sob uncontrollably. His whole body shook, his anger now no longer with him. Burying his face into the girl's shoulder, he embraced her back. As he tried to say, 'I'm sorry, I'm sorry...' the girl softly repeated, 'It's okay, it's okay...'
The man focused on the baby in his arms, still crying and wailing at the top of its lungs. He bent down his head and softly shushed it, to which it began to quieten. While the man was at it, the girl continued to comfort the boy, giving him a gentle kiss on his cheekbone.
'It's a boy,' the woman announced, folding the baby's blanket back in place.
Everyone was now back at the greenhouse, circling around the peacefully sleeping infant. The day was gradually becoming brighter and they could now see that the baby looked paler than before. His hair, just as equally light brown as his eyes, according to the man. The boy, after a brief glance at the baby, softly sighed and walked out of the building. Staring after him, the girl was quick to follow him out.
They stood side by side just a few feet from the door. The boy's face had already dried minutes ago, but the look of quiet trauma still lingered. When the girl looked at him, he barely reacted.
'I'm sorry you had to see me like that before,' he murmured.
'It's okay,' the girl replied. 'You were really upset.'
The boy shook his head. 'I wasn't just upset.' He paused a bit before he confessed, 'I wanted to kill him.'
The girl spoke his name, but he continued. 'It was just a little baby, and he was going to kill it. But he was the one who deserved to die. And all I wanted to do was punch him, over and over again until he was dead.'
'But you didn't kill him and that's the point,' the girl said.
'Because you were there. I don't know what I would've done if you didn't hold me back.'
The girl gave another thought. 'I've never seen anything like it before. Someone trying to kill a baby, I mean.'
The boy was starting to feel sick. 'I have.'
Rushing through his head was the time his papa was still there. They walked into a little clearing, and the boy was the first to see it. He remembered not being able to talk for a while afterwards as the image was imprinted into his brain. The colour of the charred infant, headless and helpless. He wondered if the child cried before being sent to its death.
'Me and my father were walking,' the boy said. 'And we saw a baby.'
It was the girl's turn to feel nauseous. 'It was dead, wasn't it?' she asked.
All was deadly quiet. Even without saying anything or a nod from the boy, the girl knew. Her heart warmed, but not in the nicest way possible. She then momentarily thought about the baby if they had not saved it, only to banish it from her mind like an insolent intruder. The wind chilled through her wavy hair, sending it past her ears.
'Then what happened?' she asked.
'What else? I felt really bad. I didn't talk for a while because all I could think of was keeping it if we got there in time.'
'At least we saved one this time.'
That would have comforted the both of them, but the mood did not seem to change at all. The silence that followed was always the recurring curse that made things more complicated than they already were. Neither did the freezing temperature help for that matter.
'Thanks for holding me back,' the boy said.
'No problem,' the girl modestly replied, smiling warmly.
The boy's eyes sought hers and he smiled back. When their sights had joined, he moved in for a quick hug. Upon breaking apart, they stared into each others eyes. But the moment was interrupted when the girl looked back into the greenhouse.
'We should head back,' she said, walking over and opening the door.
She gestured for the boy to enter first. When he went in, the girl followed quietly, locking the door. They strode down the aisle side by side, noticing the others noticing them. The others were still curiously circled around the sleeping infant, clothed in the thick blanket.
The man placed a hand on the boy's shoulder. 'Right on time,' he said. 'We were discussing the kid's name.'
The boy grinned, his eyes twinkling slightly. He had not thought about naming a baby before, but he knew it was something very special. His mind was blank, yet he enjoyed the thought of the baby growing up with a specific name. It was something that the baby could keep and the boy smiled even more at the thought.
'What could we name him?' the woman pondered out loud.
Sofia added, 'Definitely something simple. And special, of course.'
The man began to point out as many names he could think of. He began with names such as Nathan, Josh and Ben, but everyone knew that they didn't quite fit the child. The man then blurted out the names of men he had once known. David, Matthew, Adam, Chris...the list went on. By the time he couldn't remember any more names, he momentarily gave up. Then he looked at the boy, who returned the curious stare.
'Tell me,' the man said. 'What was your father's name?'
The boy stared at the baby, then quietly whispered, 'Jack.'
The name immediately stuck to everyone's heads. It was perfect. It was loved already. When the man softly repeated to himself, 'Jack...Jack...' he then smiled. It definitely felt right.
'Jack it is, then.'