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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.
Grove City, Ohio
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This article has 14 comments.
26 articles 0 photos 231 comments
"laugh, and the world laughs with you. laugh hysterically, and for no apparent reason, and they will leave you alone." anonymous
2 articles 0 photos 6 comments
"The price of freedom is eternall vigilance."
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"You have to take it as it happens, but you should try to make it happen the way you want to take it." -German Proverb
Oh my goodness. That is fantastic. I love it, in a creepy depressing kind of way...
anyway, way to go!
2 articles 0 photos 14 comments
The heart writes the words of the music that the soul dances to.
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"Look after my heart, I've left it with you."- Edward Cullen
"To love another person is to see the face of God . . ."- Les Miserables
"Don't say the old lady screamed. Bring her out and let her scream." - Mark Twain
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10 articles 1 photo 8 comments
"I can't help being a gorgeous fiend... it's just the card I drew."
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This is certainly one of my favorites: "I will become even more undignified than this, and I will be humiliated in my own eyes." -2 Samuel 6:22