Beneath his back, the ground is wet.
A clay that sticks to the remains of his uniform. There is a sickness in that wet soil, littered with shards and glass, a sickness that he cannot stand.
The mud sticks to his hands, it is clayey, matted with the moisture of blood, that raises bile in his throat.
But there is nothing left in his stomach to throw up, there is no energy in him to rise up, and no will to react to the foul smell that hoards his senses.
He had once been scared of small spaces, scared of being left in isolation and forgotten, but now looking with a blurred eye at the barely breathing bodies of his comrades, for a second he wishes that he were alone, isolated and forgotten, left to the shackles of his own solitude.
Perhaps then, this shard that seems to impale his chest, these cold hands that freeze his very bones, they will not exist.
There is a gasp, it echoes in the void. For a moment he stays still, wondering if it was his own.
Every breath through his nose agonies his shattered ribs. He doesn’t want to breathe, he tries, but there is a anguish in his mind that will not leave him in peace.
The gasp resounds again, this time there is a twitch of fingers that accompany it.
“Captain Trevor,” the voice is small, miserable. Nothing like the brave solider that Noah once prided himself as.
He struggles, getting to his knees, crawling, shuffling, forwards until he can see Noah’s face.
It is battered, nose curved to the side, the flesh of his cheek bare, the parts of his skull visible. There is one lone eye, that stares at him in despair. One eye that wet with the heaviness of it’s own tears.
“Th..” he leans forward trying to catch his murmurs, dropping on the fours, groaning at the pain that shoots from his broken bones, “They are not breathing.”
His face is lowered to the ground, his skull soiled with the goo of Noah’s blood and his eyes shut, trying to hold back his sobs.
He doesn’t know how to describe how he feels.
He should’ve been the first one to go. He should’ve been the one to protect them all, but here isolated in the cave, blocked from the help of the world by the fury of this mother earth, he can do nothing but see his men, injured and battered on the battlefield, starve to their deaths.
He waits a moment, trying to salvage his courage, for this little boy, for this boy that was too young to be in their platoon.
“Save your energy, I said,” his voice is thick, “They’re following those orders.”
He looks up. He is level with Noah’s gaze.
The misery they convey, he is sure his face looks the same.
“I never,” he gurgles again, “wanted to be a hero.”
None of them did. He wants to say. None of them wanted to die, caved in, isolated, miserable like this.
“I bet they’re sitting in their halls, with their warm meals, comfortable abodes, loud words, and we” he draws in another breath. “we are fighting a war that they begun.”
There is a bitter taste in his mouth when he remembers their base, remembers his commanders, his peers and all those old men, who can only talk and chatter, and send them to do their deeds.
“I wish,” Noah starts, his voice is thick, words desperate. The tears brimming in his eyes make contact with the ground, flowing in a row, shimmering in the glare of their torch.
“I wish, I wish to burn down that base, so that these sacrifices, they’re there no more.”
There is a gasp, and then quiet. Noah’s eyes are still open, still and resolute, glaring at the roof, hateful and defeated.
Trevor’s hands grip the mud, it’s sickness coiling his stomach.
Something clogs at his throat, a wetness that lines his gaze.
In the cave, there are only his screams of agony, desperate and regretful that echo across the range.
He comes to his consciousness several weeks later.
There is a curtain, pure white, that flutters at the window. The walls are creamy, unblemished.
It is serene, his surroundings.
For a moment he remembers nothing.
There is peace in his chest, he is numb to any pain, and his eyes flutter close.
The next time he wakes, the nightmares, the remembrance of past has already shattered his peace.
His nights are lined with sobs, his consciousness with mirages.
They’re everywhere, around him, beside him, talking, joking, laughing, with him.
They smile at him, clean and happy from the windowsill, Noah stands beside his bed smirking at their antics.
He looks around in wonder, his chest swelling with warmth, and then he closes his eyes.
The images of that day burn behind his lid. The putrid smell clogs his brain, the slashes, the injuries have marked their scars, and he opens his eyes, only to be trapped in this painful solitude.
He is alone in his room, staring at the roof, willing, hoping, begging the voices to stop, yet they don’t.
It is by accident he comes across the Lord, the great commander that controls their forces.
He had dreamt of this moment a million times, and everytime he wonders how he would impale this man, how he would make him realise the pain his guys suffered.
Then he comes face to face with Lord Rafael. He is smiling, shaking his hand, and pinning the badge of honor to his crisp uniform.
In that moment he realises that he can do nothing, that these men hidden behind the comfy walls of their castles can never know his pain, and when he is ushured out of the hall, with praises and salutes following his every steps he can feel nothing but regret and anger, a red hot and blistering feeling that keeps clawing up his chest.
He stands on the ledge of Lord Rafael’s room, hidden with the dark of the moonless night, with a gun shaking in his palm.
There is a guffaw from inside, the curtains flutter, this is his chance. Yet he stands there frozen, when he hears his laugh,
“Heroes?” there is a snarl from inside, “They only died an honorable death because of my commands, yet once they die, they’re always the heroes. ”
He stiffens at the words, straining to hear more,
“That Commander Jackson, is what you call common fools,” there is a grunt from the room that marks the presence of Trevor’s Commander also. Like a snake that has bitten his heart, his arm goes lax,
“Their lives don’t matter whether they live or die, and once on that battlefield, whether they did something useful or not, the media prints them as national heroes, even when we have to dispatch people to help those fools. Only death can make them a hero. It’s my time, to show them what a hero looks like.”
He should’ve been angered, that’s what he thinks.
He should be enraged, should clock that gun, and shoot that man right in his face.
But then Noah’s gaze filters by his gaze. Those frail bodies of his companions, beaten and battered, isolated in that cave, waiting for their people to send them some help.
“I wish that I would burn this base”
He closes his eyes, and inhales a sharp breath.
He puts his glock in, this was not his day.
He leans back on his chair, gaze sweeping lazily over the letters.
Picking up the pen, he signs his name, closing the letter and pushes it towards his assistant.
He stands, taking a large drag of his cigar.
His subordinate steps forward with a salute, and picking up his fur lined coat from the stand, places it around his shoulder.
“The meeting will start in an hour.” the kid’s voice is meek, scared. Shenanigans of a new recruit.
He gives a sharp nod and with another drag moves towards the door,
He moves through the hall, his shoes snapping across the glinting floor.
It is a long way to the meeting.
His car tumbles across the subarban roads.
It takes an hour and he is again there, standing at the place where the floor had caved, where they had fought their enemies, where they had been trapped, and where the Lord had let them be, for they were common fools.
There is a new building there, an extension of their base. The tall structure gleams, it’s glass planes shinning in the diluted rays of the sun.
He takes a step forward, and his eyes drop to the floor.
He stomps, yet it is sturdy.
It was ironic how this very soil couldn’t bear the weight of five men, yet now it stands resolute.
The base is empty today. It is because of the meeting, the gathering of their high profile commanders.
It something that will determine the future of their society. Something which will determine when this war will end.
He has attended many of these. He knows that it will never end, not when these moles leading their armies are the ones soliciting the flames, the ones that keep flaring up the flame.
His steps echo across the concrete.
The hallways are dark, isolated, and he finds the main room easily.
One well placed shot and the gas pipe screeches. He closes the door.
Leaning on the wall he takes another drag of his cigar.
In its smoke he sees them laughing, like they once used to before the ambitions, the Greed of their Lords destroyed the Happy mirage of their life.
Steps echo in the hallway, they are measured, dignified. He has heard them long, he has traced them for a long time.
The Lord was here with his entrouge.
A smirk makes its way onto his lips. His hands twirl the lighter.
“Commander Trevor, ” the person says.
He cracks his eyes open, staring with a bored look at the Lord,
“Lord Rafael.” his words are drawled. Commander Jackson shoots him a warning look.
He straightens, his hand holding the doorknob. The lighter flares in his grip.
They stare at him. A question prevalent in their gaze.
“You wanted to become a hero,” he says, cracking the door open.
Lord Rafael takes a step forward,
He stops at the smile that overtakes Trevor’s face.
There is laugh, sick and breathless that leaves his body.
Then strangely, his eyes are cold, calculating.
A smirk plays on his lips, “Only death can make you a Hero.”
They’re too late to react.
The fire flickers, the gas sizzles.
The last thing he sees is fear, sticking and prevalent, on Lord Rafael’s face.
He closes his eyes, he is sure that this time, this time he will know the fear.
The fire chipping away his flesh hurts him no more.