The sun glared, one relentlessly pale and piercing glass eye, empty and sharp and clear and fixed. Below, the armies were so worn and grey that when they were tired enough there were almost no countries at all anymore, no languages and no leaders and only men in the equality of dirt. The swamp crawled into them and the damp seeped into eyes and ears and wax figurine soldiers melted into stalagmite bulges in the mud.

Trenches were dug into the wet earth, and when night fell and the soldiers hid, they could not distinguish between the mud and the sky as both extended seamlessly in a cocoon of swollen, charcoal space.

J. lit his cigarette and passed the match along. He examined his thin, picked, rotting fingers and sighed at the living skeletons around him, the army curled up like a sick dog in the street, letting itself decompose, watching the flies on its skin. He felt the humiliation slithering in his hair and through his nerves, green and electric. And the enemy waded in the same black, bloated night in their own trenches. He could feel them, meters away.

When J. woke up, they were at war again. The fighting churned around him in hungry locust swarms.

At noon, his face was red and men had died beside him but nothing had happened. They would fight until they were all dead and the earth was a blank, Martian landscape. J. decided to die with meaning and dignity.

He climbed out from the trench and darted towards the other side. Caught in the mud, he stuck like an insect in amber, and was swallowed by the locust horde.

Behind his struggling form, a white flag beckoned, cool against the hot pink candy malady of the sky.