Wilson, still among the living, felt the sun bleaching his bones white. Cane in hand, he crept through a desiccated forest of metal, of great white trunks with stubby black limbs, some upright, some leaning impossibly, some lying prone. Signs identified the remains of each, naming, explaining, talking history.
“Which is yours, grandpa?”
Wilson smiled down at Connor, all of nine, running ahead of his parents and older sister, oblivious to the desert heat and the brown mountains in the distance. The others took time to read, but Connor cared nothing for signs. He wanted to claim his heritage, to lay his hands on the missile his grandfather had helped design.
“This one here.” Wilson pointed a shaking finger at a sleek skyscraper of a weapon bristling with fins, piercing the cloudless sky.
“It’s the best!” Connor ran, touched a stabilizer, stroked it. “Does it go into space?”
“Not quite. But it has range. Thousands of miles.”
“What does it do?”
Wilson rubbed his chin. “Carries a bomb.”
“Did you kill people with it, grandpa?”
“No, Connor. I just designed it.”
“But it’s yours.”
He’s only nine, Wilson told himself. He’ll understand someday.
The child caressed the belly of the missile. His eyes traced its body up, up, into the blue. “If it were mine, I’d use it on all our enemies.”
The sun bleached Wilson’s bones a bit more. “They teach their children the same.”
Connor turned a grim smile on Wilson. “Good thing you made it, then.
“The Forest” originally appeared in the Indies Unlimited flash fiction competition, May 27, 2017.