Sunday, November 18, 2007

The Dark Man

There is a dark man in the ward. He lurks in the doorways of the surgery and at the bedsides of dying men. Flecks of blood from their coughing touch him and disappear into black. Their final breaths are drawn up into him.

The dark man speaks in the rattling wheels of a gurney, in the scream of an amputee. His voice is unintelligible, but it is full of meaning. I've been listening to it, waiting for him to say my name.

He is the only real person here. The men in the beds, with their bloody stumps and their shit-streaked pajamas, pitching in fever and shouting in terror, they only exist in parts. The dark man follows them in from the front, and gets in their lungs, choking them. They try to spew his name in wet bloody gasps. He gathers their exploded flesh from the mud of the trenches, and if I could see him, I think he would be made up of their discarded bits. I think he has my rotting foot, because the soft footsteps in the corridor sometimes sound like mine.

There were two of us there, huddling against the rain of shells. Nothing at all was real in that place. The grenade was small, smaller than an orange, and my comrade held it up as if it were a rock. I could see the dark man sillhouetted against the flash before he put his hand over my eyes. I can still smell his fingers. They reek of gore.

The dark man will be back. Whatever else he needs from me, I will give it to him. I wait.

Nearly forgot I'd written that one. Cheery stuff.

Sorry the game went south--contingencies for the loss of a player should have been established at the beginning, and I could have handled it better. But it was getting tiring of handling emergencies and shit.