Daniel and Peter held on to the skinny saplings on their way down the hill, their sneakers covered in mud and leaves. A silence had surrounded them since they agreed to skip school and explore the bunkers. Neither had been there without a group. Neither had been there without older kids around. The bunkers were theirs.
“Here’s a good one.” Peter said nodding towards a concrete opening in the ground.
The steps down were covered in wet leaves and a rancid odor crept up out of the dark. Peter pulled a flashlight out of his pocket and went down the steps. The beam of light swung around then disappeared. Daniel crouched with his hands on his knees, squinting into the mouth of the bunker. The beam hit the staircase after a few minutes and Peter walked back up.
"Look.” Peter said and held out a wet hand grenade. “It’s rusted shut. The pin don’t move.”
Daniel felt his insides shrink into his stomach, his throat closed but his hand extended when Peter held out the grenade. Daniel felt the weight of the steel and how cold it was, he saw the rust smear his fingers. Daniel felt the ridges of the grenade and couldn’t let it go. “We’ll chuck it in the ocean” Daniel said.
“Fuck the ocean” Peter said. “We get the pin out and drop it down one of these bunker vents.” Peters iron brown hands grabbed the grenade back from Daniel. They started back into the saplings behind the bunker opening.
“What if it don’t go off? It’s probably dead.” Daniel said to Peter. They were about thirty feet apart behind the bunker and scanning the undergrowth for one of the steel vent shafts.
“Well, if it don’t go off we’ll ha—“ Peter was cut off.
Daniel felt a low thud and turned to see a brown cloud of leaves and atomized mud where Peter had been forming his answer. His right arm and the half of torso it was attached to was gone, as was his head. Two legs attached to the blackened right side of Peter’s body moved as if they were descending a staircase then dropped. Daniel walked over and into a cloud of pink and brown condensation that stuck to his skin. The parts looked like a mannequin painted black and still wet.
“—ve to go down the bunker and find it,” Peter said. The words were hissed from inside of Daniel’s head, right behind each ear.
The woods were silent. Things were sliding through the wet leaves, Daniel could see them. Little brown and black shapes converging in one spot and clicking together, scratching as they each found their place. Some were burrowing up from the mud; others came quickly out of the surrounding trees. Other pieces were breaking through Peters legs a few feet away, all converging and reassembling. Powder swirled into the top of the steel ball and the bent collar of the grenade wrapped around the top again.
After an eleven year hiatus, Anthony Cote (@A_Cote1) made his triumphant return to the classroom in 2011 and is now studying anthropology and writing at Rhode Island College. His resume is filled with several factory jobs, each of which he has excelled at. Anthony also collects music and enjoys economical whiskies.