Paranoia

The never-ending cycle continues its ponderous rotation,

Churning, twisting, bending everything in its path

The battle lines are drawn up, and the swords gleam in the cold winter morning, ready for the blood. Ready for the slaughter.

The twisting continues, faster, faster, faster.

Faster.

It envelops all before it, moving closer and closer to the core of the heart

They are ready to fight; and he must lead them onward to victory. For he is on his home territory, fighting to save everything he knows. Everyone he loves. But he is not the Hannibal he wishes he was.

It arrives with full strength, tearing everything asunder, destroying the fortifications erected for protection against the storm.

Any storm.

This storm.

As he lies, defenseless and vulnerable, insanely mounted expectations of self and others fill the voids in the turbulent mind. They rise, towering crazily into the sky.

They implode and crash, destroying everything in their path..

'I must not fail. I must be strong.' The voices in his head repeat, but he knows it is not true,

'For I'm not the Hannibal I wish I was', he says.

Like a Viking horde they descend upon the citadel, thundering down from the hills above. Seeking glory and plunder, their merciless cry fills the air; shakes the foundations of the walls. But the men know they must fight, and prepare to battle to the last man. For it is their only hope.

For it is victory or death.

Fear makes its home in the new ruins of the heart and pervades every thought, and every action.

He makes moves to defend himself, and the mind races in anticipation of the new, impending danger, trying desperately to come up with some sense, semblance, of defense.

But it is to no avail.

Afraid that his world will fall, and crumble to pieces yet again, he desperately fights to save all that is precious, but the fear remains, undaunted and unshaken, unbroken and intact. It clings to him and weakens him, pulling all his precious efforts apart. But he does not see it, and continues to hope. In vain.

For it is futile.

The screams of the dead and wounded fill the air, and the soldiers' morale flags under the relentless onslaught. They fight to save their lives, to save everything they know. But it is a losing battle.

Mistakes, blunders, unsaid apologies. They all lie rejected and useless, unsent, digging deeper into the mind, creating pain, angst, hurt. They burrow in and control him, filling him with an angst of what he's done, and a deep, boding dread of the future. And he is right, for

Disappointment fills the air, and weighs him down, burdening him with ever more pain and fear.

They fight valiantly, but are forced to retreat to the walls, and there make their last stand.

"Please don't hate me", he cries. "Please don't go." But it is yet again futile. Those he thought were allies show their true, indifferent colors, and there is no one to hear his plea. Racking with sobs, unable to escape, he turns to face the ghosts. But they are not there.

They are not there; there is only a fleeting silence.

The massive siege engines are brought to bear on the citadel's walls. Onagers, siege towers and rams, ready to breach the defenses. True enough, every impact of the battering ram makes its presence felt, and every clash of swords is a painful reminder, echoing without.

The pride he thought was gone, dead, and buried makes an appearance. Or a disappearance; he cannot be too sure. The fa├žade he hides behind is now cruelly revealed, showing the gilded rot beneath. For all is not as it seems, and he has been exposed.

The fear is coming true; the tenets of his world begin to crumble and crack, heaving under the strain. He has failed. It is over.

And suddenly, all too suddenly, the ghosts pull back, and it seems alright. He can relax again, and peace comes to him.

But it comes too soon, for it is only the eye of the storm.

The icy shivers, blazing fires

Walk hand in hand, harbingers of destruction.

Gripping, overwhelming, they demand attention and immediate gratification. But they do little to stall the still presaged doom. For it is not over.

The enemy's assault is renewed with vigor, and they push to the walls, ready to take the city, their arrows lighting the sky with their flames, and darkening it with their numbers.

He is crushed under the weight of his torrential, unremitting burden, reminded of all his previous failures.

'You will never make it', the voices cry incessantly. 'You will fail'.

And he starts to believe them. Slowly, they seep in and make their claim on his raped and bleeding territory.

And there is none left to stand against them.

He is alone.

So he buckles, and, knowing it is over, makes his final stand. Hoping blindly that he will succeed, but knowing truthfully, optimistically, that he has failed.

Somehow, he rallies his troops for the last stand. With a grim, wearied determination, they heed the call and face the enemy for the last time.

He stands, ready to accept his defeat;

Hand in his surrender. But something within him refuses to buckle, and fights on to save his sovereignty.

Thankfully, in their last stand, they are able to push back the enemy, and they are led to victory. But it is a Pyrrhic victory, at best, and utter destruction at worst. For he is demoralized, unable to withstand the next assault. Although it is over, the multitude of arrows has done their work, and the screams emanate from within the citadel.

Still hoping blindly, he turns, and sees the palace ablaze; his hopes and dreams crushed and destroyed. But he himself still stands, holding nothing but his life by a frail, thin thread.

For the city lies ablaze, like the proverbial Ilium; foreshadowing now what was to come; what has already passed. For it is an omen only in hindsight, as the picture is made clear.

For the screams of pain and anguish fill the bloodied air, and their song rises, unheard, to the heavens.

For his soldiers lie dead, tainting the snow with their departed spirits.

For he was not the Hannibal he wished he was.

And, likewise, I am not the Hannibal I wish I was.

A/N: The Hannibal spoken of is Hannibal Barca; a Carthaginian general who marched an army from Spain across the Alps into Italy in the spring of 218 BC. For a full biography, go to