Oriensligne burned around him as Pack lay in the dust by the well. He had managed to drag his father’s heavy corpse away from the fire before it had spread too far, but by the time he’d returned to the house, it had engulfed his mother and sister. They were black, peeling-bubbling figures, withered phantoms, sleeping in the inferno.
His tears made tracks in the dirt on his face, landing on the glossy chrome of his father’s antique pistol. Pack held it now, as he curled protectively around his father’s body. He held the gun against his face and reveled in the smell of the oil and the familiar scent of his father’s hand on the sandalwood grip.
He pretended that the gun was the last surviving part of his father, and that it represented a place where he could never be hurt again, where nothing could ever be taken from him as long as he lived. He went there, now, the flames rippling across the polished, scrollworked surface. He went there and slept.
He would never come back.
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