There was a rumbling in the dark. It seemed to last forever. The walls of the bunker were thick, but bombs were still bursting. Any second could be the last. A family huddled together in fear, the two children crying, the mother comforting them, the father trying to be stoic. The dog whined anxiously in the corner.
Hours passed by, then a few days. And though the bombs began to slow, they never ceased. But there was still hope: they had enough food and water to last them the week. They ate and laughed together, even giving some food to the dog. The children began to perk up. The father felt confident, the mother assured. They knew the bombing would eventually stop.
A few more days passed. The bombs become regular – almost normal. The children made a game of who could guess the number of bombs per minute. The mother spent her time reading as the father strategized, drawing pictures on the floor with a growing sense of frustration.
The dog galloped around the bunker, barking gleefully as he chased the children, wiping away the pictures the father had drawn. “Look what you’ve done!” the father barked. “Go sit down! All of you!” The mother looked at them reassuringly. “Listen to your father.” And so they all sat..
A week passed by, but the bombs still fell. Their echo somehow grew louder; their distance closer. They had a little water left but had run out of food. The children began to cry again as the mother’s worry grew more visible, the father’s frustration more palpable. The dog looked tired and sad.
Another week passed. They were now out of water, but still the bombs do not stop. The family began to pray together. They prayed for guidance and comfort from above, but when no help came, they began to despair. They huddlde close together once more, feeling trapped and alone on the dark, cold floor of the bunker. The dog looked thin and exhausted, but had just enough energy to huddle along with them.
There was a rumbling in the dark. It seemed to last forever. The walls of compassion were thick, but the pangs of hunger were growing. Any second could be their last. Desperate, the father turned his attention to the dog. The longer he looked at it the more something changed within him. The children, noticing the change, started to cry again as the mother comforted them in vain. The dog whined anxiously as he looked up at the father with sad, gentle eyes.
The father’s mind began to race. His body began to sweat. Suddenly he rose to his feet and walked quickly to the far end of the bunker. He picked up a softball-sized rock and felt its deadly weight in his hands. It made him feel powerful. His mind seemed to be locked in a trance, his will committed to the unthinkable.
The children begin to scream, leaping out of their mother’s arms and running frantically toward their father. The father walks back emotionless with a steady, determined gate. The children try to grab hold of his arms and legs, but he shrugs them off, pushing them to the side. They cry and scream louder, but he only ignores them.
The man was is now staring down at the dog, his eyes wild, his hands shaking with a kind of tribal adrenaline. This is what his ancestors did, he told himself. He is justified. He is doing what needs to be done. He is doing it for his family. He made sure to look away from the dog’s sad, beautiful eyes. Hardening his heart, he lifted the rock high above his head and slowly counted to three.
But just before he let it fall, he felt a sudden touch – warm and familiar. His wife’s hand was wrapped tightly around his arm, keeping him from carrying out his violent duty. His bright eyes flashed at her with rage, but she defiantly stood her ground.
As she stared back into the eyes of the man she longed to recognize, suddenly the terrible trance was broken. The man, realizing what he was about to do, began to tremble with sadness and guilt, dropping the rock to the floor. It fell with a resounding and liberating thud that made him feel the weight of his conscience and the depth of his humanity.
His children ran toward him again, not out of fear, but out of love, leaping into his arms with tear-filled eyes. The man began to laugh and cry uncontrollably as his children hugged him tightly while his wife held his hand. Sensing the man’s emotions, the dog jumped up to lick the tears from his face, whining with joy and sympathy. And for a brief moment in time there was a rumbling in that cold, dark bunker that had become their world, and they hoped it would last forever.