Death and Destruction

January 7, 2008
By Tara Berglund, Wilmette, IL

Death and destruction reigned around him. The storm raged and tore and whipped and whirled with him at the center of it all. His pain- deep and seemingly unending- bound him there, unable to move. But he didn’t want to move, to be anywhere else; even if he could have moved, he wouldn’t have. He was too far gone to understand what was truly happening. Lightning streaked across the sky, momentarily lighting up the small curled-up figure that he was, before the thunder followed. The crash it made shaking the earth. The rain poured down and the wind whipped it in every direction.

And he laid there. Unmoving. Soaked. Chilled to the bone, but unfeeling it. He couldn’t stand feeling it. Or anything else. Because if he felt it, that’d mean this was all real and he’d have to face the truth. The truth that- another flash of lightning lit the sky and for a moment he thought he saw another figure out in the storm. But no one else would be stupid enough to try and brave this weather. He assumed he imagined the figure and that the storm was causing him to hallucinate.

And he was happy in his delirium. Because if it was actually who he thought it was… But it wasn’t. So it didn’t matter. He shivered, but refused to let himself feel the cold. Besides, this wasn’t any more than he deserved. He deserved all the cold and wet and pain and he had no right to complain. Especially when there were some who could no longer feel the cold. He should appreciate the hurt. If he could still feel, however unwillingly he did so, it meant he was still human. But he was beginning to question that.

Slowly, bit by bit, all feeling was leaving him. The mixture of the storm’s flashes of lightning and his own swimming in and out of consciousness caused the world to spin dizzily, no matter that he was laying down. All the twisting and turning would normally have made him sick, but there was nothing in his stomach. He didn’t know when he’d last eaten.

The lightning struck a nearby tree and, for a moment, the surroundings blazed with the tree’s fire and before the raging storm quenched it, he saw the same blurred figure as before. Twice now? Maybe he wasn’t imagining. Maybe it really was-. No, he’d lost his glasses somehow and everything was blurred; everything looked the same. But what if it was…

But it wasn’t. And that was that. After all he’d done, all the pain, the death, all because of him it couldn’t-

He heard a sound. His name. No. Impossible. It was the delirium. He used to know the voice so well that even his subconscious could imitate it. A streak of lightning immediately followed by a boom of thunder.

There it was. Again. No. He refused to believe it. He was supposed to be out here cold, wet, in pain. And alone. This was his penance. Everyone else had suffered, now he was. It was only fair.

A third time. And closer. Right there. Above him. Another bolt of lightning and a flash of unexpected gold. He waited for the thunder, and it came, but later. The storm was ending? But it couldn’t be. His debt hadn’t been repaid. But if he focused, and when he tried, he couldn’t believe how hard it was to do, he could feel that the rain had lessened and that the wind had died down. More lightning, but further away and the thunder that followed was quieter. He felt something slipped onto his face. His glasses. Slowly, painfully, he rolled over and looked up. It was her.

“It’s okay, I’m here now.”

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