DUSK AT THE BORDER

Dusk, the start of the night shift that no one wants to do. Bálint watches the sun dip down across the river, it’s reflection glinting off the water. A week of this to come before he returns to the lazy day shift, relaxing in the warmth of the summer days.

In most places, the darkness brings stillness and peace, but not here. Here, dusk marks the beginning of rush hour.

He picks up the night vision binoculars and scans the horizon. Nothing so far. They will wait until the light has gone completely. Clouds in the sky overhead will block out the moonlight. They will certainly try tonight.

He shouldn’t complain. He is lucky to still have a job to come to. The fence along the land border has removed the need for the Border Guards. Only here, where the middle of the river marks the border, is there still a need for a permanent watch.

Does he have sympathy for those that come? It is not his job to think about such things. He is paid to stop people entering the country, his country, illegally. Some may be innocent, some may be persecuted, some may be victims. He didn’t believe, like his government told them, that most of them were criminals, but there may be terrorists, or rapists, or thieves among them. From those he would protect his people as he was paid to do. He was diligent and proud of his service.

He raises the binoculars again. There they are. The shadows on the far bank, crouched by the edge of the water. How many tonight? Maybe twenty, thirty, it’s hard to make them out. Until they step into the river they have committed no crime, so he waits and watches.

He points out what he has seen to the other members of the guard. After an hour the shadows move. There is no sound. A few more steps and then he signals to Lieutenant Halász. Halász flicks the switch and the bright floodlights send powerful beams across the night sky.

The shadows freeze, unsure what to do. Blinded by the light they cannot see if anyone is there. They have come so far. They collectively decide to push on, they are so close.

Bálint sees them press forward. He raises his rifle. Two warning shots fire into the night sky. A warning message booms from loudspeakers. ‘Turn back now. It is illegal to attempt to cross the border here.’

Again they freeze. Bálint can see a woman, carrying a child above her head as the water rises to her mid-drift. Is she looking straight at him? The look of pleading in her face tells of terror and hardship and despair.

He fires two more shots, the loudspeaker plays the message again. This time the group turn and retreat. He watches them reach the far bank and melt away into the black landscape beyond. The border is secure again. He may have to repeat the same routine two or three times again that night.

What will become of the woman with her child? It is not his job to think about such things.


sky-1
Copyright Sue Vincent

This is a response to the Thursday Photo Prompt – Dusk curated over at Sue Vincent’s Daily Echo. Click on the link to read other stories inspired by the image.

40 responses to “DUSK AT THE BORDER”

  1. Once again you have hit very close to home with this one Iain.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you Janet – it’s a situation that can be applied to several places around the world right now too.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much for the reblog. Appreciated.

      Like

  2. Just curious. What country is this because with those names, it can’t be the U.S.?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I didn’t want to name a specific country, but the names are Hungarian. The US isn’t the only government who (incorrectly) thinks a wall will solve their immigration problems. More info here if you’re interested: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hungarian_border_barrier

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I wrote in another story last week how India has had a shoot on sight policy for illegal immigrants crossing into their country, so there are worse things than a wall.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. True, although I would suggest that right through history border walls seem to come hand in hand with guns and armed guards as well.

          Liked by 1 person

  3. A tragedy on many levels, Iain. From the hopelessness of those seeking refuge to the mind of the guard and that of the fence-builders.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you Sue, hopelessness is the word…

      Like

  4. I’m afraid this happens every night on a special border… And it will continue to happen even if someone really gonna built the wall he’s so often talking about…

    Liked by 1 person

    1. There but also in all borders around the world too. Fences and walls solve nothing. Thank you for reading.

      Like

      1. If your story takes place at the U.S./Mexican-Border, it is also very cryptically: A man with an obviously migration background – according to his name – is preventing other migrants from crossing the border…

        Liked by 1 person

        1. I had in mind it was the Hungarian fence that borders Slovakia and Croatia, although I have no idea if there is a river there, or any gaps in the fence, so I used Hungarian names but didn’t specify exactly where we were. I think the story is universal to a few borders around the world. I’m happy for readers to imagine it taking place wherever their mind takes them 🙂

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  5. Nice description of being caught in a moral dilemma.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you Frank, much appreciated.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Another topical fist-in-the-gut from you Iain. Brilliant. Freakily enough, I too took a similar route in spirit, though the plot was different.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, enjoyed your take as well 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  7. This is beautifully written, Iain.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. I liked the description set here Iain.
    A situation that knows no border or country but hard to deal with.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Wow, a timely piece well written. Sadly, this is a true story all too often.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you Anne, sadly so.

      Like

    1. Thank you for the reblog Sue

      Like

  10. Beautifully written. Really good – and unusual – to see something written with this sort of flare and economy. Loved it.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much, lovely compliment.

      Like

  11. Very close to home. Excellent piece of writing.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Heart-wrenching, human to human, what we must do.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. So easy to compartmentalize and lose all humanity. We are all guilty of it to some extent. (K)

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Easy to get lost in the everyday job and lose sight of whether what we’re doing is really right or wrong and how it affects others. Some jobs have more serious consequences. Thanks for reading and commenting, much appreciated.

      Liked by 1 person

  14. I really like how you bring current events into your writing, Iain. A very good piece.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you Robbie 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  15. Beautifully written. I think this would apply universally as there are many different types of “borders”. I wish we could all just get along, ya know.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. So do I. It absolutely could apply to many different places and situations.

      Liked by 1 person

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