dead soldiers in warShort Stories

Indigo Red

A shadow overwhelms the north side of the map. A cross burns down as the night continues to eat the trees, the mountains, entire peoples, the whole world of man.

Up on the hill, down in the valley, next to a frozen river, a dog perishes in pain, eaten by flies, blinded by suffering. On its collar, the word “freedom” can be seen – a silver ray from a large, yellow, moon bounce off it, striking the eyes of the soldiers who stand as vanguard.

Across the valley, on the other side of the darkened void of a world, from a similar mortal wound of a country, other soldiers guard the night. The men on each side look at each other, but they do not see each other. Only dark, distant shadows can be spotted.

Freezing cold. Thirst, fear and a crushing desire for physical love that eventually morphs into more than touch.

H. takes out a small piece of paper from his dirty chest pocket on which he writes a three line poem for his young wife. Next to him, V. looks at the soldier. She is all alone, nobody to return to. Only the icy night and the thought of ending up in an even colder tomb, somewhere many hundreds of kilometres away, in foreign lands with familiar woods but strange language.

Back, in their village, a church is being transformed into a hospital. A hanged Christ looks over the bleeding soldiers: not a single cry, not a single tear, but a burning desire to return home – although that place no longer exists for any of these soldiers who fought for the glory of history, which betrayed them like a damned whore. Home was burnt down. Home was demolished and raped. Home was no longer part of reality. Feral beasts roamed over the land that used to be home.

On the other side, the enemy feels the same: in their frozen chests, the hearts of the soldiers cry molten tears of melancholy that pierce through their unwashed skin, for they yearn for the same things, they call for the same names, the need the same touch and they will die for the same ideas of glory…in vain.  

A star fades away. The light from the distant white dot no longer has to traverse aeons of time and space to shine for the affairs of men. The two generals observe that: God is not on the enemy’s side, they both think.

God has never been on the side of such battles – but those who said so, those who pointed out the most obvious aspect that all humans knew, that God was never nefarious and that evil came through the broken heart of man, were hanged, shot and fed to the hungry boars. How did they dare to obscure the rightful channel between the All and the small man in uniform?

Two soldiers, one from each side, make their way in the valley. Behind them, where their comrades await, the hills transform themselves in giant graves, covered with thousands and thousands of stones and crosses: white and grey, like stiff ghosts, yelling at the night sky as bullets swarm around them. A few seconds collapse into a few hours and, eventually, the two scouts meet.

A man and a woman: a pair of green eyes stares back at a pair of brown eyes. A uniform faces another uniform. They look behind each other, seeing how the valley melts under the wings of death. He has a boy. She has one too. They know what life is, but now they face the other way.

A tear freezes on his right check, as a tear freezes on her left check. Under the freezing moon, in the catacomb of knowledge, under the stars that never cared, in the utter nonsense of all words, the two soldiers hug. As if touched by God through the self-proclaimed line the All, the two generals order the slaughter to stop.

The shadow over the north side of the map buries itself under the hot earth. A peace treaty is signed on nothing of importance, for nothing can be important which does not account for the free soul of man.

From beneath the graves, the dead cry but they have no voice: they want to scream “Why?!”, but they cannot. The sanctity of fate broke like an old, putrid bone, and they fell in to the crevices of time.

In the end, the star begins to licker again, but the dead remain dead.

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