The man with the long thin scar on his face suddenly broke free from the chain of hands he had with the others, hunched low and darted across the rough gray cobblestones to the other side of the street.
He looked around. Nothing happened and he stood up and stretched. The only sound he heard was the swish of the others as they continued to move steadily along the wall in front of him, their eyes straight ahead.
“Come join me,” he said. “It's quite wonderful over here. There is nothing to fear.”
Five others dropped their hands and then stepped toward him. The one-eyed man with the girl, the man in the suit and loosened tie, the one with the empty pistol, and the old woman who had joined them a few days ago and had seen it all before. She shook her head at them.
“There is no escaping the guns,” she said.
The rest of the line kept sliding along the wall. It was their duty and the next town was miles away.
The man with the scar on his face had known everything would be all right. He had known it for a long time, ever since the big guns had stopped and the sky had cleared. The old woman had to be wrong.
In a crack of the sidewalk he saw a bright green weed. He picked it and held it out to the others.
They lined the curb looking at him; only the old woman had gone back against the wall ready at the first opportunity to take her place once again in the snaking line.
He caught the girl's eyes and held out the weed to her. The one-eyed man held tightly to her arm. She broke away and strode across the street with her head held high.
Still nothing happened. The one-eyed man fell to his knees and reached out to her. The girl took the weed and placed it behind her ear. She smiled. It was a smile he would remember always.
The man in the suit briskly stepped past the kneeling man and he too crossed the street. When he reached the other side he straightened his tie and dusted off his shoes.
“This is going to be a very good day,” he said. “I can feel it. At last I'll be a success.”
“You're right,” said the man with the pistol. “It will be a good day.”
He tossed the pistol into the street and followed the man in the suit.
“The sky is remarkably clear,” he said. “That must mean something.”
The first burst of machine gun fire spattered the wall and sprayed them with bits of stinging stone. The one-eyed man let out a cry and fell. The girl ran back to him and helped him crawl to the three men.
The second burst hit the man in the suit and he toppled over, the others ran as the machine guns began firing once more.
The old woman wiped at a tear, then took her place once more and began sliding along the wall as the bodies were swept away down the gutter by the jets of disinfected water that had been provided for just such occasions.
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There was a scene in a movie of narrow cobblestone street going through a village of white stucco houses. There was a weed growing through one of the stones.