Here is something I wrote once.
Rain fell hard, each drop making its tiny, insignificant mark on the waterlogged ground beneath my feet as I ran. The sound of pursuit echoed behind me and made me conscious of every footprint I left amongst the many others before me, and even more behind. The path I weaved was punctuated by the bodies of those who ran and those who pursued. War makes no such distinction and claims all.
They promised us victory. They promised us valor. They promised us Dulce et Decorum and delivered Patria Mori and still I ran. I ran from duty and I ran from honour but I still ran, God damn-it.
The cacophony which permeated the air intensified to a point beyond which I could stand and I wept as I ran. Tears poured from my eyes carving clean pink furrows in the grime which coated my face and as they meandered to my mouth the salt gripped my lips and for the first time I felt shame. The pity I felt for my own immortal soul slowed me to a walk. A death march. A death stumble.
I came to a halt ankle deep in fallen leaves. The wind gusted and blew them into the air, showering me with autumn hues. I hadn’t known colour for months and the endless stream of battle seemed to dissipate within me as my world became one of vibrancy and light.
In the brief reprieve I heard a whimper. A sound so faint. I turned my head and looked towards the source of the sound. A young girl, no older than 8 or 9 sat leaning against a tree shielding herself from errant gunfire. She cried out to me in a language which I didn’t understand but her message was clear.
“Save me” She called out to me.
“Run!” I cried and pointed towards the horizon.
She looked down at her legs. A wicked looking gash ran up the side of her thigh and blood seeped through her delicate white dress staining her half crimson, half white.
I suddenly became very aware of the pursuers closing in on my position and the colour drained from my world as cowardice gripped me. My gaze darted around the immediate area, desperately searching for a solution but of course there was none and again my flight response pulled on my heart to run.
I looked down at the girl. She looked calm. Of course she didn’t know my intent to flee. She saw only the uniform and the gun. Authority and safety.
A bullet whipped through my hair, striking a nearby tree. The girl squealed and covered her ears as the sound of her voice rippled through the fog. A beacon to her position. Distant shouts and calls for backup could be heard and suddenly everything quickened. Only one of us would live to see the dawn.
I mimed a crawling motion to the girl and pointed away from danger. A solitary tear trickled from her eye but she nodded and pulled herself towards freedom. I took my rifle and began to load the magazine, each round satisfyingly clicking into place
I loaded the magazine and looked down the sights, targeting the closest enemy.
I pulled the trigger and the round tore through the man’s skull. Shouts erupted from the distance as I felled another. And another. And another. A lone man spotted the flash from the muzzle of my gun and pointed in my direction, screaming for my murder at the top of his lungs.
Thoughts of the little girl’s scream vanished from the men’s minds as their bullets coursed through my body one after the other.
But pray not for me. For to whom I go, prayers mean nothing.
For I still ran.