Rousel - Laureola It was raining out when the UN transport dropped him off at the town line. Hefting his bag over his shoulder, he looks about at the mounds of rubble plaguing the once quiet surface of his pristine place of belonging. So much destruction occurred here; even the place he would get his ice cream in the summer was no longer. Most of the trees in the area are completely dead from fires once raging. Once his bearings are gathered, he begins the walk to his house on this day. Stepping over mounds of rubble and rock he catches sight of the center of his town. It is completely destroyed. The only structures standing are rock or concrete buildings that are scorched black by fire. A crow sounds above him as it sits in a dead oak. Completely in shock at the sight, he grows weak in the knees. Leaning up against a rock wall, he closes his eyes. A lonely tear runs down his aged, unshaven face to his chin. Soon that tear was no longer lonely. His eye lids fill with tears as he begins to see visions of the once warm and loving soul of his home town. An old man sits at a café drinking his coffee, reading a paper and some kids stroll by him on bicycles. Cars roll about with everyday traffic, even the play ground was teaming with the local youth. The sounds of life fill the late summer’s air. The sweet smell of the pie festival in the center of town makes his mouth water and tears intensify. All of this was of times past; those times are no longer upon him. As the warm vision of his town melts away so do his tears. Reality stings his senses as the visions of burned out buildings and hell fill his swollen eyes. Gaining the strength he gets up from the wall and walks down the main road into the town. Glancing down his road, he discovers that most of the buildings and houses here are intact despite the devastating aerial RCF bombings. Though many of the houses were windowless; glass blown out from the shock wave of the bombs that had dropped years ago. Seeing the condition of the houses and not seeing another living soul, his hope and only wish to see his family was nearly dead. Burned out cars line the north bound side of the road. Some cars remain in the driveways of the houses sitting there lonely; just as he is. Catching a glimpse of a familiar site his staggering walk turns into a slow trotting run. Arriving to the site of his memories; he places his hands on this large stone on next to a sidewalk. More memories flood his head of playing on this rock as a youth. More tears fill his eyes as the painful memory slices into his mind of scrapes this rock gave him growing up. A chuckle bounces its way up from his chest and into the quiet air. His eyes open all fogged with tears, he sees himself on the rock with his best friend, Jen. His heart skips as he blinks. Jen and his young self are washed away from reality like rain upon a windshield. It was just himself, right here; right now. Pinching the tears from his eyes he turns his head and gazes upon his old house. Standing at the mouth of the cracked pavement drive way, no tears form at his tired eyes as he looks upon his place of birth. Not quite as he had remembered it. All of the windows were blown out and sections of the roof are buckled under years of abandonment. A vehicle sits in the drive way. though it doesn’t look familiar and he can’t remember mention of a new car from the letters he had received from his mom and sisters. Looking to his right he notices the mail box on the dead lawn of his house. Upon the mailbox, the name Dockers was in white. Opening it he finds on letters and envelopes from companies and invoices to bills. Amongst the mail he finds a dirtied UNA letter sent home from a Corporal Ryan Talowski. Sitting down on the curb, he began to read the letter. “Hey mom, I got your last letter and sorry for not getting back too you sooner. Our unit has been re-deployed to the other side of the country and the fighting is bad. Ben was killed last night in a mortar strike. He didn’t make it to the fox hole we were sharing. I was forced to watch him die as I sat in the safety of the hole he dug. It’s been hard but this war is soon to be over. You’ll see! The will of the enemy is broken. The capital of this country is so close we can see its lights in the night sky when it’s not raining. I suspect we will be there before the New Year.” Stuffing the letter into his pocket he gets up from the cold curb he was just sitting on and walks to the front door. The door was unlocked and opened slowly because of the rusty hinges. The smell of mold smothers his nose upon entry. Turning on his flashlight, he looks into the cold rooms of this empty house. Memories enter his head of years passed. But things are not the same here. ‘Where is the green sofa that belongs in that corner?’ ‘Where are the paintings that hugged the wall tightly in the den?’ ‘Why does the mail box say Dockers when my last name is Talowski?’ Stumbling his way up the stairs and down the hall to his old room, he pushes the door in and observes a nearly empty room with a soiled mattress on the floor in the corner. Dropping his bag, he staggers over to the mattress and collapses. Laying there the cold bites at his nose and fingers reminding him that he is alive, possibly more so then his family. Convinced his family had been killed in the bombings or some other attack on the UN state, he was all alone. His house was given to some other family to live in after his. This was more torturous then anything he had endured in his 6 years of war. 6 years of watching friends and brothers die, 6 years of watching the world fall apart in front of him, 6 years of hoping the next nuke dropped wasn’t on his home town. 6 years of longing to see his family just one more time. Corporal Ryan Talowski of the United Nations Armed Forces, 10 armored company slides into a deep sleep. Perhaps the deepest sleep he had ever been in since before birth. Perhaps the same as his conception prior. He wakes in his former house. All warm and healed from the life before. Getting up from his bed, he is dressed in his formal dress uniform. His jacket peppered with decorations and awards from years and years of fighting. There was a glow about his face end eyes of renewence. A smile comes about his face as he feels the warmth of the sunlight on his olive jacket. Warming his death chilled bones and soul; he leaves his room and walks down the stairs to be alerted to the sounds of music in the streets. Affixing his cap he runs to the door in excitement like a child at Christmas. The street was packed with people of the town and of people he had never seen before. Some were in uniform, some were in business suits. The people of the streets are singing and chanting “happy Laureola day!” and “Laureola! Laureola!” in just a jubilated sprit. The energy of the crowd is that of any atomic weapon tenfold. Corporal Talowski weeps in joy. “Ryan!” a voice floats from the crowd. The corporal looks about and sees his friend Ben Masters running to him. The two brothers in arms embrace and cry at the sight of each other. “Ben! I thought you…?” Ryan asks as his voice cracks to the memory of watching die out side of his fox hole. “Not here Ryan, we are alive here! Come on! They’re waiting in the hall!” Ben says as he pulls Ryan through the masses of people to the down the road. After bumping their way through the energetic crowed, the two soldiers stand in the shadow of the massive celebration hall. The hall before them stands tens of stories into the sky and reaches farther than the eye can scope. The hall doors are massive in make. Made of only the rarest materials known to man, the doors were open in such a manner where thousands would enter without struggle. The interior of this hall was lined with white marble and dark wood pillars. From the pillars, massive rafters studded with highly polished bolts hang suspended by their ends. From the studded adorned rafters, massive golden chandeliers hang 100 across and upon the golden chandeliers 300 bright white candles flicker with an awe inspiring glow. Under the chandeliers were rows upon rows of benches and table like seating. Even though every seat was taken, there was always room for one more. The tables were mounding with food from exotic places. Foods that haven’t been seen in years and some just discovered. A chalice sits in front of every person in the hall; sitting or standing, every one saluted this day with their cup raised high as the sun in the sky. The corporal looked about for his family and did not see them in the hall. Feeling that they were here, he began walking down the center most isles in search. A loud and commanding voice booms through the hall as Ryan searches, freezing him in his spot. The voice is warmly familiar, a voice he has heard many times before. From childhood to his darkest day in the field, he was familiar with this voice. It was the voice that gave him hope, and guided his hand in battle. It was then that he saw her. His mother gowned in all white and her father in a white suit trimmed with gold, sat at a table eating with his family. It was 5 years since he last saw them. His sister was not sitting at the table. With the largest smile upon his face, he loses himself at the sight and runs over to his lost family, his beloved family. His found family. It was here, on this day that they celebrated life and Laureola.