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The Soldier's Cry

I am dying. I know that. The knowledge is an icy finger running down my spine.

I am being consumed by the dread plague that has swept mercilessly through our camp, has killed so many of my companions. Fever is burning me; it is a fire that rages under my skin and burns me. My head is being squeezed with a vise and a hammer is pounding behind my eyes. Pain wracks my joints. It feels like someone is injecting acid into my knees and elbows and fingers and spine. I cannot endure it.

But neither can I find relief. I cannot even scream; I can barely moan.

I struggle to breathe. My lungs are destroyed and I gasp for air. When I can draw a breath, it is foul with the reek of blood and death and filth. I loathe it. I loathe this disease. I want to die.

No. Not that. I want to live. I am desperate to live. I am young; I have my whole life before me. And that life will end here, on this cot.

Not even a bed—there are none left—but on this dirty cot on the floor between two beds. It still stinks of its last occupant. Through the haze of pain, I see a nurse walking toward me.

“Water,” I try to croak, but no sound comes out. My lips barely move. I can no longer keep my eyes open. The nurse bends at the far end of the cot. I feel her tie something onto my toe, then she straightens and pulls the thin sheet that covers my ruined body till it also covers my head. I want to scream that I am not yet dead, that I am still among the living, but I cannot. I cannot move, cannot speak. The thin cloth over my nostrils makes the already arduous task of breathing near impossible. I am not dead yet, but I soon will be.

The thought makes me want to weep like a child.

Then I feel myself being lifted. The sudden motion makes my stomach lurch, but there is nothing left in it to come up, not even bile. I am carried unsteadily for an eternity. With each step, I can feel my life draining. I imagine a trail of it on the floor behind me, like blood.

Then I am dropped. I do not think they meant to do so, but they did. The pain is unbearable. My joints burn. My head throbs. My lungs pop like fat in a skiddle. Please God, let me die.

Yes, I have nothing but agony here now. Let me die.

Footsteps approach. Something lands on me. It is large and soft and excruciatingly heavy. It must weigh two hundred pounds. I realize what it is: a dead man.

Horror crawls up my spine and creeps into my skull. They stack the bodies in the hall outside the morgue like a pile of wood. I realize I have been placed there. And they have started to pile bodies on top of me.

Another body lands on me. I am being crushed to death by those already within death’s grasp. I feel a rib, already fractured from uncontrollable coughing, give way completely. Two ribs. The throbbing in my head is all-encompassing now and my mind begins to narrow. It darkens to a single spot of burning light.

Then the light goes out.




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This article has 14 comments. Post your own!

Gavin said...
Jan. 18, 2012 at 6:57 am:
Yeah Buddy, i cried for 5 hours :'(
 
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4qui133 said...
Jan. 17, 2012 at 9:03 pm:
what a horrific way to die. morbidly compelling--well done.
 
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Ben C. said...
Jul. 17, 2010 at 11:25 pm:
This is great, good use of descriptive  langauge and atmosphear to set the scene. I really like this!
 
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Noelle W. said...
May 12, 2010 at 6:09 pm:

Oh my goodness. That is fantastic. I love it, in a creepy depressing kind of way...

 

anyway, way to go!

 
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dancer4jesus said...
Apr. 2, 2010 at 7:29 pm:
Wow! I could totally imagine what was going on, and it left me thinking, "Is he dead yet?" Because of the fact that they thought him dead before. That was so realistic!!
 
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Kate15 said...
Feb. 19, 2010 at 6:48 pm:
i thought that this was really good. One of the best i've read from this website. keep it up, you've got something special
 
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Lauren101 said...
Feb. 19, 2010 at 10:17 am:
That was good. Could you check this out and give me feedback? http ://www.teenink .com /fiction/historical_fiction/article/97138/The-Tripoli-Chronicle/
 
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ClaudeFrollo said...
Dec. 20, 2009 at 7:56 pm:
Oh my!! This story was completely haunting, and I can't possibly think of enough words to praise it. I cannot even begin to imagine what it would be like to be carried out, not quite dead yet, like that. It sends shivers down my spine. Thank you for writing this! Well done!
 
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solot said...
Oct. 21, 2009 at 1:03 pm:
This was a very interesting topic. You described the pain and suffering well especially when you said, "Pain wracks my joints. It feels like someone is injecting acid into my knees and elbows and fingers and spine. I can not endure it." It is as if you were an actually soldier dying of the plague. Also it is sad to read that the sick had bad living conditions like when you wrote, "And that life will end here on this cot. Not even a bed... occupant."
 
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SilverQueen said...
Oct. 7, 2009 at 8:26 pm:
Thanks for you comments, I really appreciate it! As for why I wrote this story, laster semester I wrote a paper on the Spanish flu in my American History class for my final. This story was birthed from that. I felt so sorry for the people who faced that plague, and I couldn't express all that within the confines of my essay. So I wrote this story.
 
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stotlers said...
Oct. 7, 2009 at 11:32 am:
Wow this is really good! It is sad at he same time too! I do have a question though. What encouraged you to write this? How did you come up with the ideas you did? You wrote this piece so wonderfully it was actually as if you were in the place of the young soldier. Where you write " Fever is burning me; it is a fire that rages under my skin and burns me." really shows the soldiers pain. I also like the fact how you put the historical note to the side. Where it says " ... the ov... (more »)
 
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Jaquie This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. said...
Sept. 14, 2009 at 7:53 pm:
Amazing! I love it! I'm so glad I've found a truly good piece among the works of the mundain. Really, a wonderful work. Keep writing.
God bless,
...,
 
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Neojohnson said...
Sept. 12, 2009 at 6:32 pm:
That was awesome!!!!
 
SilverQueen replied...
Sept. 12, 2009 at 6:43 pm :
Aw, thanks, bro!
 
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