Episode 7: Dreams
Screams pierced Hector's ears like needles, and he sobbed as the clatter of gunfire erupted on all sides. Thick, black smoke drifted into the graying sky, blocking the final rays of the sun and bringing the night hours too early. Hector glanced to the left and right. Men and woman scattered for cover as soldiers pushed their way through the crowd, trying desperately to get to the outer walls of the compound.
For a moment Hector saw his mother through the crowd, but a woman slipped, falling into him and knocking him off balance. Tears clouded his eyes. He anxiously blinked, trying to find his mother. There! She was making her way toward him, and his father was at her side, shielding her! Seeming to catch the glimmer of hope, he rose to his feet and wiped the tears away.
An explosion ripped a hole in the outer wall of the Mexico City compound. Hector was thrown back into the dust, his elbows bruised from the fall. He scrambled to his feet to see XLS soldiers storming in with guns raised, their black uniforms starkly contrasted against the sand-colored walls. Hector's head snapped back and forth as he desperately looked for his family again.
His father, Javier, helped his mother and sister up from the ground. He could see the scrapes on his mother's legs. Maria grabbed her daughter, Alexandra, close, wrapping her arms around the girl. Hector cried out, but his family couldn't hear him above the deafening battle. He cried out again using all his might, shouting until his throat burned.
Javier turned, squaring his shoulders to face off against the oncoming enemy forces. He held up his hand, protecting his wife and daughter. Hector watched as the incoming enemy soldiers fired their weapons. His eyes went wide as his father stumbled, losing his balance and collapsing. Maria screamed, but her cries were cut short as the soldiers swarmed in around her. Hector cried out again, tears streaming from his eyes. He started to run toward them, but he felt strong hands sweeping him off his feet. A Union soldier fired several rounds into the melee before carrying Hector off under his arm.
The last glimpse Hector had of his family was his baby sister, Alexandra, her arms outstretched as her mother was torn from her...
* * *
Hector twitched, flailing his arms and throwing the thin wool blanket off his shoulders. With a jolt, he rose to his elbows and pushed himself into a seated position. He swallowed hard, his breath coming in quick bursts. He glanced at the shelf beside his bunk. Empty canisters of sleep aids surrounded his personal items.
"Dreams," Hector muttered. He put his head in his hands as if to close off the outside world. After several seconds he snapped to life, throwing the rest of the blanket off and sliding to the edge of the bed. Digging through his personal items, he drew out a small pane of glass with several cycling buttons. The glass plate lit up with photographs long past. Hector sifted through the photos before stopping.
There, crisply displayed along the thin pane of glass, was a picture of two children standing in front of their mother and father.