It must have been there for a while, he thought to himself as he stared at the hole in his leg. He couldn’t remember how it had happened or for that matter, when it had happened, but, there it was. A hole. And, very much, in his leg. As he stared, he noticed the dark patch on his trousers, spread. He watched as it moved down towards his boot, and it was only as he followed it down that he saw his boot was no longer there.
Panic gripped his mind.
Thoughts flooded his brain and his heart started to race, pumping the blood faster, and spilling it onto the cold mud beneath him. ‘Stay calm’ he told himself. ‘For God’s sake, stay calm’. He became aware of noises around him. Of shouts, of cries, of explosions and of the buzzing of bullets. He heard a voice cry for a medic. it wasn’t a voice he recognized and yet it seemed close by. There. Again. Every time he tilted his head back, he heard it.
Fear gripped his mind.
His hands move towards the hole and immediately he felt the warm, thick, sticky liquid ooze between his fingers. He felt the pulsing, felt the rhythm of his heart as it gave his life away, one beat at a time. He pushed his hands harder into the bloody mess; into the wound; into his own leg.
Anger gripped his mind.
He tried to remember where he was. He looked around but all he could see, through the smoke was a sea of mud. A vast ocean of cold, black clay. As the smoke cleared, he could make out shapes. An arm, A leg. A body. Twisted and broken, like a grotesque puppet hanging from a wire. Its limbs pulled by an invisible puppeteer. dancing to his tune with every gust of wind.
Sadness gripped his mind.
His ears filled with the sound of blood rushing through his veins. Louder and louder. Like a train rushing through a tunnel. Like a drum beat. It marched in time with his throbbing leg. His eyes were growing dark and his head was swimming. Not long now. Almost there. Almost safe. Keep pressing. Stop the drum.
Fatigue gripped his mind.
His body burned with pain. It seared itself through him. His lungs burned with every breath. His arms burned as he pressed, the muscles straining to keep up the pressure. His head pulsed and ached with every beat. His fingers burned as he clenched them tight. His leg did not hurt. Nothing hurt below the hole.
Confusion gripped his mind.
His head fell forward as a tide washed over him. A tide of darkness. His ears fell silent and his fingers released their grip. The burning fire of pain extinguished. The drum beat stopped and his eyes filled with darkness. The clay beneath his body was not cold as the puppeteer took his limbs and danced the dance of the wind.
Nothing gripped his mind.