Fear Itself

by Lara Wilson

He didn't fear death.

The terror in his victim's eyes had stopped affecting him two decades ago.

For him, death was just another adventure, one he wasn't sure he'd ever experience. He didn't think about it much, even when dealing it. He certainly didn't fear it.

Until death came for one he'd always loved.

On the body strewn battlefield, his son cradled his daughter. Blood spread around the hand pressed between her breasts. Her face was as white as the hair she'd inherited from him. There was pain and suffering in her single eye.

Seeing her, he ran, fear stealing his breath, nearly stopping his heart. Dropping to his knees beside his children, he saw the grief in his son's eyes as he cried without shame and felt his own overwhelm him.

Slade watched a shaky smile form on Rose's lips and bent to hear her whisper.

"Daddy? I was afraid I wouldn't see you before..." Every word seemed to take an eternity to escape her mouth and with every word his heart pounded more painfully in his chest. "I'm not afraid anymore."

"Rose...I love you." He took her hand, squeezing it when he felt no answering pulse.

"I know." Her smile widened even as her eye clouded over. "I always knew."

With a whisper of breath, his only daughter died, and Slade knew she wouldn't come back. A man was lucky to get one miracle and as his eye met his, he was afraid he'd lost the chance with Joseph as he'd thrown away the one with Rose.

Smiling through his tears, Joseph took his father's other hand and shook his head as if to say 'I'm not going anywhere,' and Slade nodded in understanding and held on tightly.


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