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A Strange End
Weird the things you remember, before you die. I remembered my first love, first bike ride, and first ice cream cone in the warm German sun. How sticky my hands were afterwards, and how my mother insisted on wiping them clean. I remember my first girl, all the way back in 8th grade. Took her to our graduation dance, haven’t though of that moment in what seems like an eternity. Another weird note, you don’t remember birth, but you never forget death.
My death came swiftly, as I was one of the lucky, no agonizing pain, no foxhole sufferings or frostbite loosing. Nothing to the extreme, a clean wound through my brain, how lucky was I. I did however… encounter an interesting fate after death. One would assume that you drift silently off, into the oblivion that is afterlife. However, that is not what I encountered. Quite to the contrary, actually, if you must know then I shall tell my story, my tale of heroics in the fatal battle. Though it is a short story, it has great significance to me. Let us get on with it! Let the story begin!
A cold, bitter wind blew through the dreary forest. Causing the trees to cringe and creak in a way that only represents fear. The wind bit at my very soul, as I wrap my large standard issued trench coat across my body, doing little good to subdue the winds bite. My hole, small, and damp as it was, had been my home for the previous three weeks. Those small walls were all that <em>protected </em>me from my enemies. The forest as if sensing our own hostilities, attempts to drive us from its soul. The tall, thin French trees want us here no more then the people themselves.
As I stated before, I had only inhabited this hole and wretched forest for the sum of three weeks. Within those three weeks, those three unforgiving weeks I lost it all. From my pinky toe, to my very soul, none of which I would regain at again. In my eyes, the forest was nothing more then a petty thief, waiting and willing to steal what it could from the men who inhabited it.
That faithful day, the day of my demise was nothing short of exhilarating. I would not replace that memory with another even if I could. I know you assume the day of ones death would be full of fear and resentment, but mine was not. Mine was full of excitement and adrenaline. The ring of my machine gun brought upon a feeling of divinity. With the power of life and death in ones hands, to be used freely is no small matter.
That morning I woke up to a sound off in the distance, nothing more then a mere breaking of a stick in the forest. However this break was different, this break was warning me. Being in the front line, the sentries Fox Hole if you will, I had the duty to shoot first, ask questions later. So quickly, I stirred and got myself into a sitting position. Looking over the cold steel of my HMG, making sure it was ready for action. When I was positive it was ready, I cocked it and waited. It must have been hours I waited, however now that I look back at the moment, it couldn’t have been more then four minutes until the first Marine walked in front of my sight.
My heart skipped a beat, my hands sweated; I could hear my heartbeat in my ears. My mind went blank, not a single thought formulated itself. That’s when I pulled the trigger. In an instant, my weapon rang out, sending sound echoing through the forest in all directions. I paid no attention, as I never heard the first shots. I only felt them, not in my hands however, but in my soul. As I watched the rounds strike its target, and the man fall, I could feel myself begin to rot within.
No time to think, to move or breath, as instantly another man, then two, then four, then ten marched forth from the woods. All with purpose, all with country in mind, and all into a hail of bullets marched the soldiers. As I saw more, I continued to fire and fire. Rotting more and more within, but still I felt compelled to shoot. None of the poor men saw it coming, for they had no idea I was there. They came too early after their friend was shot to see my location.
An eternity passed, however in war, an eternity is a second. That’s all the time I had until the first of three rounds whizzed past my head. Scrapping against my helmet and igniting a spark in the corner of my eye. The second round was more… how can I say… intrusive. Entering my arm at the bicep and cutting through cleanly. I felt the pain, the blood and the fear all rush at me in one fluid motion. However, I hadn’t the time to react, for the third and final round was in the midst of entering my body. Shutting off mid thought, as it snapped through my brain stem, as if it was a twig. I would like to say, even in my death the bullets continued to ring out, up until the ammunition was exhausted.
You know how they say dying is like moving towards a bright light? How when you reach the light you enter the beauty of Heaven? Well its not, actually it’s quite an intriguing experience. Your soul, your very being it’s ejected from your body as if it were expelled from a school. Forced out with such pressure that you can only wonder what was happening. I was assuming that Death would be by shortly to collect, hoping for less than five minutes. Boy was I wrong.
Death must have been running late, because I watched the course of the battle. I witnessed as my friends and enemies alike began to float above their empty shells. I waved at the ones I knew, and watched with a curiosity the ones I shot. I was first to begin speaking... not sure how though. The noises I made where none that I had ever heard or created in the past. However, everyone understood them all.
After coming to my senses, and figuring out what had occurred, I turned and glanced at the directions of the men I had seen. A smile crept upon my face, and I spoke in my new tongue the words of apologies to those I shot. Then I looked to the one who killed me, and I forgave him. The conversation after that flourished with thoughts and ideas. The favorite topic was what exactly we were all experiencing, but that eventually died down. Moving unto what one another’s nations as was like, and how the people are. Eventually the battle below ended, but none paid attention to the victor.