Category Archives: 2015

Alone Together

Let’s be alone together

We can stay young forever

~ Fall Out Boy, ‘Alone Together’


Burning.

Red.

Heat.

That’s all she feels as the fire reaches her. There is chaos all around her as she tries to find him. People are screaming, their faces and hands stained with blood as they embrace their friends and family for what might be the last time. Her wounds are smarting painfully, the cuts on her arms and legs pushed to the back of her mind as she forces her way through the throngs of people who are running from the hailstorm of smoke and ashes.

She’s screaming now, her lips trembling as she calls for him desperately. A part of her knows that he’s gone, but the rest of her perseveres stubbornly. She stumbles over bodies, and gags as the blood-stained, crumpled corpses crack under her as she searches for him.

Please, she screams as tears roll down her cheeks, and she thinks that she sees a shadow of him around the corner. Fire rains from the sky as she shields her head from the rubble, the thin scarf that she’s wrapped around her head hardly enough to protect her from even the thick dust.

It’s only after she comes to that she realises that she’d lost consciousness at some point as the flames fell from the sky, and she scrambles to her feet. There’s a sharp twinge in her ankle which tells her that there’s a possibility that she’s broken something, but she forces herself to keep moving.

She can’t help the tears that roll down her face as she walks through the broken, war-torn streets in the cover of night. The pain in her ankle has spread to her thigh, and she’s limping and waving off the people who come to help her. She tells them that she’s looking for him, and their broken, sad faces make her heart stutter in her chest every time she repeats the reason she’s still walking.

It’s pitch black when she finally sees him, a hint of him peeking out from under a particularly large slab of concrete. No! The tears double, her eyes aching from the dirt as she wipes her face with her filthy hands before attempting to dig him out. A few others come to help her, and it takes them a while to move the large rock. After that, they leave her as she sobs over the relatively large body.

She runs her hand through his grey-streaked fur, her tears soaking into his blood-stained head and muzzle as she curls up against him. This was a mistake, she tells herself even as she mourns for him. She should have never left him alone, especially when he was so old. His body is cold and stiff as she flattens the fur on the top of his head with a trembling, dirt-caked hand. He looks like he’s sleeping, and if she believes hard enough, she can almost fool herself into thinking that he is.

So she believes.

She curls up beside him just like she usually would and she wills herself to sleep. When she wakes up, the sun is burning her skin once again, and the screaming is all around her. Beside her, he’s still unresponsive and stiffer than ever, and she ignores the arms that try to pull her away, swatting them aside as she holds on to him.

When the fire reaches her this time, she welcomes the burn and the red and the heat.

Burn this pain away, and sear a new life into these bones.


Carry On

Carry on my wayward son

There’ll be peace when you are done

Lay your weary head to rest

Don’t you cry no more

~ Kansas, ‘Carry on Wayward Son’


His feet are burning, aching with pain as he takes another step. The shotgun in his hand is heavier than ever, and the warm blood that streams down his face is unnerving. He sees the woman, her dark hair and golden skin familiar as he raises the gun. There is understanding in her eyes as she meets his gaze steadily, and this time, he can’t help the tears as he pulls the trigger.

He wipes his tear-streaked face with a bloodied hand, ignoring the smear that stains his skin. Hell, he can’t remember how it feels to be clean by now, but he keeps moving. There’s a glimmer of hope in his chest when he crosses the empty street, seeing no one. His fragile hope is shattered, and he raises the gun again, this time begging the man to stop him. The dark-haired man simply shakes his head, dropping his own blade.

“Finish this.”

The words are short, but they hit him like bullets to the chest, and he can feel the two shots it takes to kill the man in front of him. He cries this time as well; this man had been his brother-in-arms, when the world was still spinning on its axis. He drops to the ground as he remembers hugging this man the first time he battles it out of his own hell, remembers this brother of his being the only one who was patient enough with him to coax his back onto his feet and onto the battlefield once again.

The next two kills he makes are easier.

They are monsters, though he is by no means better than them now, he tells himself. He’s stumbling now, trying his hardest to find the light at the end of this blood-stained tunnel. For a moment, it’s all darkness, then he feels the pain and the warm liquid. He looks down to see the sharpened edge of a knife sticking out of his chest, and when he shifts, he can feel his bones grinding under his skin.

It’s a kill, he notes, smiling even through the pain as he drops to the ground. It’s only then that he realises that the blade in his chest is a mere blur, and that what’s hit him is actually a bullet.

There’s gunfire all around him now, and finally, he remembers where he really is.

Even here, his brothers are falling all around him; their cries of pain loud and overbearing as he crumples over another body. He is not alone now, though, and the faces he shoots at as he falls, screaming in pain, are cold and hard and unfamiliar.

When all the pain recedes, he finds himself floating over the noise of a thousand men living and dying all at the same time. He smiles as the noise dies slowly, and he can’t help but let his eyes slide shut as he hears a voice calling him home.

Welcome home, it says, sounding like everyone he’s ever known and loved all at the same time, even though the voice is singular and clear. It resonates through him, the timbre striking him warmly, and he embraces the sound bodily. I’m home, he tries to reply, but no sound leaves his lips.

When he opens his eyes, he sees his mother and his father, warm smiles on their faces and their skin glowing with health and happiness as his brother waits just beside them. They are the centre of the picture that makes tears roll down his cheeks, and ashamed, he lifts a hand to wipe at them.

“It’s good to see you again,” it is his brother-in-arms, the man who had given his own life away just to make sure that he didn’t return home in a body bag. Now, the man is smiling like he’s never seen him before, and he returns the gesture, smiling widely and pulling the man into a warm embrace; half-checking to see if he’s really there even as he revels in the warmth and peace that fills him.

“You don’t have to fight any more.”

That’s his brother, a smile on his young face, and he wants to cry and apologise for the man’s untimely death. The man stops him before he can do so, though, and he finally allows the warmth to permeate to him from the crowd of people surrounding him. All these people that he had loved and cared for in his lifetime. All these people who’d, in some way or other, given their lives just so that he could survive long enough to do what he’d had to.

“You don’t have to cry.”