The war came on tiptoe; not rolling through the village in tanks, spraying death from rattling guns. Nobody ran or screamed; nobody fought back.
The war came on tiptoe, whispering through windows, gliding under doors, along carpets and rugs, drifting first into the lungs of pets. Dogs and cats lay down quietly to sleep forever. A baby, naked on a soft rug, gurgled and waved his arms, as this year’s weapon of choice breached his feeble defences. The village school fell silent.
The war came on tiptoe, clinging to skin and clothing, streaming into eyes and mouths and noses, into lungs that burned and shrivelled.
The war came on tiptoe, so stealthily that we didn’t even know where its journey began. Did it matter? All we needed to know was that, for the ninety-four percent of people who were not immune, there was no defence, nowhere to run and no way to retaliate.
The war came on tiptoe, bringing green faces, bulging eyes and a silence that I, an isolated survivor, find it impossible to break. My voice is dead within me, as my world is dead without.
The war came on tiptoe, cloaking us in its stinking, invisible shroud.
Fenja Hill is the self-published author of Nightwriting, a multi-genre collection of stories combining humour with a dark edge. Her poem “Traveling in the Back Seat” was shortlisted for the 2022 Yeovil Literary Prize and her short story “Taking Notes” is currently shortlisted for the Wells Literary Festival prize.