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‘Samuel pushed his little brother hard in the chest. Dimitri fell backwards and splashed into the fountain. Good one. Dimitri laughed as he fell, and slapped the water to make even more slash. Samuel giggled as well, and rushed forward to press his advantage.

Maria sat not too far away, enjoying her children’s preoccupation with the public fountain. It gave her a moment to sit and talk with her friend Alin, who she hadn’t seen all week. One eye always rested on her boys. She loved them, but any respite from their constant energy was a welcome one.

“Do not worry about your husband,” Alin was saying, “there are many who would be happy with his posting, and few have his reputation.”

“I know you are right, but it’s just ...” Maria stopped mid- sentence.

The sound of laughter had turned to the sound of crying, a distinction that sometimes only a parent can make. Samuel always got too rough with his little brother. She turned back the fountain. It was indeed Dimitri who was crying, but his brother was nowhere near him, as if keeping his distance on purpose so he couldn’t be blamed.

“Dimitri!” Maria came rushing over. The boy stood in the fountain, the water up to his knees. “DIMITRI!” she screamed when she saw the redness soaking his hair and clothes.

“Mamma!” the boy cried between gasping breaths. “Mamma, it stings. It stings!” The boy wailed as he rubbed furiously at his eyes. The frantic mother grabbed her child from the fountain. She checked him thoroughly and was relieved to see that the blood on his face and body wasn’t his. She turned back to the fountain and stared in horror as it bubbled out a constant stream of diluted red from its ornate mouth. Blood ran through the veins of the city’s water system. The product of the city’s savage entertainment.

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