Tweet of the Day: What’s the Worst That Could Happen: Dante’s Inferno
Milhoud quay, Marine Nationale base, Toulon, Var Department, Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur Region, France, 11 February, 03:45 hrs GMT+1
A gigantic fireball rocked the base. The fleet tanker Somme burned from bow to stern. Water spouts erupted on the sides of helicopter carrier Tonnere and the destroyer Forbin. Survivors ran to fight the fires but found only useless equipment: broken water pumps, ripped fire hoses , and shattered oxygen mask.s More explosions shook the city of Toulon, Car bombs exploded on the streets that lead to the base. The captain of the Charles de Gaulle put to sea immediately. The Navy could afford to lose its flagship. The final explosions occurred in the weapons store bunkers and fuel tanks. The base commander stood, hat in hand, in the middle of quay as the men and women under his command did the best the quell the fires. But he knew that this battle was already lost.
France was at war.
Pont d’Austerlitz sur la Seine, Paris, Île-de-France region, France, February 11, 8:14 hrs GMT+1
Commuters glanced as the gray sky that hung low over the city with gloved hands in pockets and raised collars against the cold wind that bit into exposed flesh. A light blanket of dirty snow dusted everything. No rain washed away the soot laden flakes from far away volcanoes in Iceland and Italy. Another phrase hung in the winter air, La Guerre. Few spoke it, but all knew it. It was in the very bedrock of the city.
A long, torturous history of war. Wars that gave the country and its people their names: Gauls, Franks, France.
The news brought intermittent reports about explosion in Toulon and Brest. News of warships damaged, sailors dead, and streets full of ruble. But all of that was not here, not yet. In here cyclist and bikers competed with trucks and pedestrians. Here, the air hung low and heavy with tension. Thoughts crowded with worry about the mundane: of school work, university courses, work schedules and late appointments.
Such where thoughts of Célestine a thirty-nine year old mother of two, who had just walked her oldest to school while fuming at her husband for his many late business meetings.
Or Adrien, who, as he weaved in bicycle around annoyed pedestrians, knew his father would be waiting for him as soon as he left the University to work on his flower shop.
And Edmond and Eloise, who had grown tired of their hotel room and decided to brave the dark weather and visit their country’s most famous landmarks.
The final thoughts of the dead.
A fiver hundred pound bomb erase all them from existence. Only hours later, in the city morgue would Adrien father be able to identify the face of his beloved son. The family of the others would trust to science to tell them what they already knew.
La Guerre had come.
Gellainville Commune, Eure-et-Loir department, Centre Region, France, February 15, 22:02 hrs GMT+1
The woman screamed a long incoherent stream of curses. She was covered from neck to waist in blood. Blood dripped from broken finger nails and caked the tips of her hair. The Gendarmerie, weapons drawn, shouted orders at her. She let out a ear piercing yell and rushed them. A volley of gunfire followed. She collapsed at Armand Berger feet. His partner checked the corpse while he followed the trail of blood back into the house.
He found the husband behind the kitchen counter. Two knives, a pair of scissors and shards from a broken dinner plate protruded from a bloody chest. He searched the rest of the house. His heart pounded in his chest. He found something that would haunt him to the last day of his life. A long smear of blood ran down the wall of the nursery. By the grace of God, the baby lay face down, but the pool of blood told him everything he needed to know. His stomach lurched but nothing came out, except dry heaves. More officers arrived but he waved them off.
How could a mother do that to her child?
A creature, as ancient as the land, looked on from a perch in a nearby roof, answer in hand. She licked the last drop of the clear liquid, tucked the bottle into a little bag and transformed into a raven. Bag in beak, it took off into the night.