‘This fortress is infallible,’ the General thought. ‘And it’s finally mine.’
Made of steel-reinforced concrete, standing on a block of more concrete and surrounded by a moat of deep water, there seemed nothing that could penetrate its walls. The few windows of triple-glazed, bullet-proof glass shone in agreement.
Stocks of food were kept in case of siege. Water was pumped from the fortress’ own well in the kitchens. The general was led to his new bedroom at the top, the largest room with the largest window that looked over the valley below.
That night, an old, portly officer who had served the previous General for many years, died under mysterious circumstances. The new General allowed only a small funeral, and the tradition was to float the body of the officer in a small wooden boat, out from the fortress, through the village clustered around where the families lived, down the valley and into the river below, with all of their worldly belongings.
The General, however, was jealous of the dead man’s medals and decided to keep all of his belongings. The officer’s family, who were poor but well-loved before this new General came to power, were suddenly bereft of their honour. Sadly but patiently, they laid the rest of their belongings alongside the officer in his makeshift boat and carried it up to the fortress.
The officer was sent on his journey to the river. However, the chute down to the river had dried up years ago, so a great deal of water had to be pumped down the chute to move the body along.
The General and the other officers bowed their heads and left as a mark of respect. The dead man, plump from years of good service and better meals, scraped against the gravel and grass growing on the bottom of the chute, and the boat became wedged in a narrow tunnel leading to the outside of the fortress, unable to move.
The water was building up behind him but the pump kept pumping, pumping, pumping, and soon the basement kitchen started to flood. Up and up the water level rose, past the stairs, up over the ground floor doors (well sealed to keep out any radiation or debris), up and up, through all the floors…
Outside, the fortress was beginning to feel the strain of all that water. The concrete was stronger than the glass, however, so it was the glass that shattered first, water pouring out of the holes like a waterfall of tears, carrying out the drowned bodies of the officers.
Last of all was the General, still stubbornly clutching the medals he had coveted, and he drifted down the chute to join the other dead men. They were trained for fights, but not for floods.
Based on a dream I had when I was 13