Old the woman might have been, but her stride was sure-footed. She pushed forward, towing Fisher behind her, her vocalizations pleading followed by sobbing. The closer they came to a small gully with steep sides, the Grandmother's weeping increased to wails. Ten meters away, the Grandmother stopped, covered her eyes, and dropped to her knees. Her head bowed, face behind her hands, she rocked back and forth, then pointed to the gully.
Fisher felt the dread settle on her shoulders. As she walked to where the Grandmother pointed, her feet dragged. She suspected what she was about to see. Yet, before she see it, she smelled it, and it brought the hackles up on her neck. Fisher slipped a hand inside her coat and brought out a gun. She gripped it in two hands to clear the way before her and continued to the gully's mouth.
The odors intensified. Not putrefaction. Too cold for that. Gunpowder. Sweat. Feces. Urine. Blood. A combination she knew and well: they were the smells of fear.
Fisher saw a foot minus a shoe, the shoe nearby. Then another foot, its leg, the whole body, then another body and another. The full view of the gulley lay open to her.
Bodies, dozens of them. Sprawled. Men and boys. Dark, dried blood on the snow, on their clothing, their faces. Chests blown open. Unseeing eyes stared skyward. Slack mouths. Pale skin the color of death.
Fisher's knowing eyes studied the lay of the corpses, how they had fallen. The narrowness of the gully hemmed them in so they lay like toppled dominos, one torso resting on the legs of the body next to it. The snow was disturbed only around the bodies, and the bodies all had patches of snow on their knees. The soft sound of the Grandmother's weeping the only sound in the forest, Fisher looked up at the crest of the gully and "saw" the soldiers standing there, their automatic rifles and machine guns pointed down into the narrow wound in the earth.
The dread evaporated, and rage replaced it. Addicted to the blood of their ethnic cleansing in Bosnia and Croatia, Slobodan Milosevic's finest, certainly no more than a day before, had slaked their cravings, four years unfulfilled, with Kosovars. She could already hear the excuses from Belgrade. These people were rebels or aided rebels or got caught in the crossfire between the rebels and the army. Crossfire hadn't done this, and the wounds showed they'd all been shot in the back.
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