It is one thing to die, but it is a whole other concept to watch your comrades fall in front of you.

My eyes open once more to the eternal nightmare I seem to relive in every moment I am awake.

Clouds span the sky, stretching in every direction. It gives the battlefield an ominous feeling, a blanket of doom sparing no one its depressing declaration -

You are going to die today.

The air is tainted with the putrid odor of sweat and tears. It seeps into my spirit, filling me with utter disgust and despair. The grass is littered with broken bodies and lost souls, permeated with the thick scarlet liquid I've become all too familiar with. The blood soaks through the tattered leather of my worn shoes, and I feel the overpowering urge to collapse.

It reeks of death.

All around me men scurry around the corpses below them, hurriedly stuffing their guns with gunpowder and taking hasty aim. It is eerily reminiscent of a twisted dance - shoot, back off, refill, and shoot again, all the while hoping that no one gets lucky enough to have his shot not miss the mark.

Shoot, back off, re - dead.

It puts a whole new spin on the idea of dashed hopes.

"Get your ass on the field, Johnson!" The officer's command forces me roughly out of my daze, his glare penetrating the fog I imagine to be surrounding me.

I glance at the officer and hastily pull out my rifle. Fill, aim, shoot. Go ahead, go blow the brains out of some sitting duck out there, the billowing flag above me shouts. For my freedom. My fingers hover over the trigger, and my mind screams at me, tells me not to do it. Don't pull the trigger.

I shakily fill the gun. Half the gunpowder spills out, but it is all I can do.


Aim. I rest it on my shoulder, targeting an old man with the determination of a youth. Ready.


I hesitate for a mere second, but before I can make up my mind the man is charging towards me. His eyes are filled with a maniacal light, shining through and masking his wrinkles and bony arms. It is all I can see for a few moments.

I am going to die today.

And without a thought, I pull the trigger.

it -!

A bright, bright red and a fierce pain overwhelm my senses, and I fall, still trying to block out the shrill screams. I can't tell where they come from, but I shut my eyes and pray that it stops. The sound grates my nerves and hurts me more than I thought I could ever be hurt. It plays over and over and over. . .

. . .As I black out, listening to the echoes of agony reverberating in my skull, I realize something.

They're my screams.

And then there is nothing but darkness.

My eyes open once more to the eternal nightmare I seem to relive in every moment I am awake.

The rain pounds on me, but I do not feel the sensation of wetness. It washes away the grime and mud of the battle, drenching every wary soldier in its refreshing waters. The grass feels soggy and slippery, but I revel in the feeling of coolness on my feet. The dim light of dusk, while normally sinister, seems to mask the evil in its midst.

The bodies are strewn on the ground, looking for all the world like nothing but a conglomerate of oddly shaped rocks. For a moment I am staring into the crevices of a stone, and I blink, only to see the haunting emptiness of nothingness in a young boy's eyes.

I am the dead.

I walk through the mud, and the bullets whiz past me, never touching me but never sparing me the gut sensation that very soon, one of them will hit me. I want to cower in fear, leave this area of mass destruction. It almost overcomes me.

It is the image of the red, white, and blue flag soaring proudly against the thunderous rain that gives me courage. I have made the mistake of hesitating before, but never again. I will not lose again. I look the opposing army in the eye and with unparalleled determination, I line my rifle up with the mob of soldiers across from me.

"Fire!" someone shouts, and I obey instantly.

My mark hits the target -

We are the fallen. . .

- ripping into his drenched flesh -

. . .and I am the dead.

- and he drops like a rock.

A burst of triumph spurs me on, and I push through the crown, knocking scores of men off their feet. The victory is mine. I can taste it, sweet on my tongue, more filling than the clear liquid dripping down my nose. Revenge tastes so damn good.

If this is Hell. . . bring it.

But my eye catches a glint of gold, a fleeting bit of color in the colorless monochrome around me. It is the gold of a cross, and I stumble to a stop.

We are the fallen. . .

How was it possible, that out of the thousands of men, I pass by him?

. . .And I am the dead.

For a second everything freezes, time stops, reality ceases. His face is pale, his skin splattered red. My mouth is open in a soundless wail that sends pain rippling through my body. The vindictive joy I had felt only moments earlier is gone.

It's gone, and it took my soul with it. In that instant, I know what has to be done.

As he slowly raises his head, I fall back.

I sigh as the pangs of agony run through me again, tempered by relief, and let the darkness engulf me again.

My eyes open once more to the eternal nightmare I seem to relive in every moment I am awake.

This time, however, I can see the sun.

A/N: Written for the September 2011 WCC. Vote for your favorites at The Review Game after the registration has closed. Links are on my profile. You may have to scroll a little down. Every vote counts! :)