Flash Fiction: Soul Left to Live (2546 words)

(Disclaimer: This one is a bit brutal so if you’re easily offended don’t read it. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.)

 


 

I miss the old days. That’s not a secret. Not that I have anyone to tell my secrets to but you now. There is little left but the beetles crawling on my face and an occasional cockroach. They don’t care. The earth is a lonely place. Lonely, empty and defiled.
It’ll do though and I have shelter. The rafters hold up the ceiling, albeit half the house crumbled down last winter. It doesn’t matter. I don’t need it for much longer. I just need it now to keep the light out.
I’ve been hunting you for so long and now all I have is you and my willpower to keep on going a little longer. When you’re gone I will slowly wither away I guess. God knows I’ve tried other ways to rid the world of my self. The monster, that is me, sleeps on occasions.

It’s not pretty, I’m afraid. When I think of the old times I think of my friends, I realise that they would call me names, my old comrades if they knew but they’re all long dead and I guess they had enough names for me while they were alive. Darned bastards never knew what hit them.

I was lucky to get away. I crawled out of a trench with the shots, and explosions, ringing in my ears. The others were all dead after the bomb fell in the trench but I had been spared, incredulously saved by one of my friends who was crawling beside me and shielded me with his body when the blast hit him. I remember the look in his eyes when he fell on me. Utter surprise and something else too. Resentment? I think it was. And something happened at that very moment. Something happened in that moment, when he was flung towards me by the blast. Something I can’t quite grasp or explain. It was in his eyes. In the resentment. He wanted something so fiercely and as he flew towards me he looked into my eyes and he transformed me into something I wasn’t before.

It’s the only explanation I have and I’m sticking to it. The war had changed us all. We were no longer men but monsters every single one of us. It just happened to be me who managed to take the final leap.
I crawled out of that trench and as I crawled over the battlefield, more an animal than a man I leapt over wounded soldiers, dead soldiers and I suddenly found myself suckling the wound of one of them. I didn’t have a thought in my mind but I remember the taste in my mouth. It was better than anything I’d ever tasted, despite the dirt and the mud that covered everything. 
 I didn’t know where I was and I didn’t much care. I ran through the fields, away from the devastation as fast as I could. I ran and I felt rejuvenated, I felt powerful. Unstoppable.
When I did finally stop it was because I was hungry but I was far from people, and I was wild. I felt all the emotions of a dog let loose after being kept on a leash his entire life. I felt free from the slaughter, from the mayhem, from the ugliness of the humans and their war. It no longer concerned me and strangely neither did the family I had waiting for me at home. My wonderful Elouise and my newborn baby girl, Christine, she had birthed after I was shipped away. I had never seen her but received a letter stating that they were both fine and that they were waiting for me to get home to them.
I think I realised when I got that letter that I’d never go back home to them. That I’d never be the same man I was when I left. I just didn’t realise the extent of it.
And there I was, running, hungering after something I didn’t yet comprehend. Running until I stumbled upon a smell that compelled me, enticed me like the low cut dress Eloise had been wearing the night we decided to get married. Or the smell of bacon in the morning.
It wasn’t bacon, however, that compelled me, begged, nei ordered, me to come. It wasn’t bacon but close enough.
They were so pretty. The woman in the wagon with the infant and the man holding the steering wheel of the car. He held it like it was a two handed axe or a sword. He had a fedora on his head and when I suddenly stood in front of his car he pushed the breaks, jumped angrily out of the car and went at me spouting words and raised fingers.

He wasn’t covered in blood like the man on the battlefield, yet he smelled divinely of that what I had found so enticing and I grabbed a hold of him. The hat fell on the ground as I ripped his throat open and drank and over the man’s shoulder I could see his widows eyes.
The terror captivated me. I wanted her too. That look in her eyes, the way she clutched the infant. It was beguiling. She was a little temptress and I was her pray. When I finished with the man, I turned to her.
I did hear her pleading and although I didn’t understand a word she said I guessed it had to do with the child in her arms. A little baby girl I figured since she had a tiny, pink bow in her hair.
The woman had golden brown hair and beautiful eyes and something in me let me to believe that she would taste better because of it. The monster in me. The beast. My friend.
I took the child from her and looked at it. She squealed and she fought me but I kept her at bay while looking at the child but the infant didn’t appeal to me like the woman did so I took her, like I did the man with the infant in my arms and when her limp body fell to the ground the infant started screaming.

I had been a father of a newborn but I had never seen my girl. I had no idea infants could be this loud. She screamed like she knew exactly what I was and what I had just done with her parents. The little girl, only about a month or two old, screamed like she expected her mother to wake up from the dead to console her, safe her from the beast that held her in his arms.
I didn’t kill the infant. I may be a monster but I like to think of myself as a gentle monster, no matter what the war had turned me into I wasn’t ready to slaughter an innocent child.
Or maybe I was full.

I ran with the screaming child in my arms. She screamed the entire way to the little village down the road. I put her near the town’s square, making sure I wasn’t seen by curious eyes of the villagers.
I remember the raindrops on my skin as I exited the village and I wondered if the child would be found before the storm became too fierce. Then the upcoming storm took all my attention and I forgot about the child. I ran with the wind, I lapped up the rain and I stumbled up mountains and down hills.
I made a lot of children orphans in the months, years to come. They never mattered much to me but I never forgot that little girl. You can say she became the child I never saw, my little Christine. In my mind she was mine and although she was living among the people, and she was happy, she was still mine. I visited her. Saw her gathering daffodils for her mother and saw the smile on her face when she chased the cat down the road. She was such a pretty girl and I never went too long without seeing her.
She was mine. And when she grew up she was beautiful. I wanted her. I wanted her entire being. That beautiful golden hair and the eyes that were blue as the skies. The skin so white and soft.
So one day when I visited. Watching from afar as always. She was wearing a white, lace dress and she held some flowers and a cold, creeping sensation came over me.

She was getting married. It wasn’t right. She was mine! And these people had only borrowed her.
I had to bring her to me.
The church was small with a wooden cross on top and she was already walking into the bloody building when I saw her. The fury rose within me. The fury and the longing. It was as if the last of my mortal bonds were breaking and if they broke, all that would be left was the monster and the screams of the dying men and women I had clutched in my arms. But she? She could save me from that. She could cure me of this misery. She could make me a man again.

So I walked into the church, unaware of the implications that this was the house of god. I had been a believer before but the existence or non-existence of a greater power didn’t matter to me anymore. I was a greater power. I had all the power in the world. I could do what I wanted. Be who I wanted to be.
Or so I thought.

And there she was. Standing beside a tall man in a stupid uniform smiling her unearthly smile, and I let the beast go. I broke bones, I crushed skulls, I broke hearts until I came to the two of them. They were dumbstruck by the altar. The priest cowering in pure terror unable to find a single holy word to save his life.
The two men by the alter offered little resistance although I can hand it to the groom that he didn’t die without at least trying. His blood tasted salty and I left him there bleeding on the carpet beside the dying priest who revolted me.
And there she was. My beautiful one. And in her eyes I saw life and love and everything I had never really had. She was the daughter I had never seen. She was the lover I had lost. She was my entire reason for being and I wanted her to be as I was. I wanted her to be like me. I needed her to be like me, to understand me.

She looked at me as if she hadn’t comprehended what had gone on around her. She looked at me as if it was the most natural thing in the world that the two of us were standing there with corpses and the blood of the dying all around us. She looked at me and she said something I didn’t understand and I took her in my arms and carried her out of that heinous house.

She was mine and she wasn’t afraid and for the first time in a long time I felt something that simulated happiness, giddiness. I had all the joy of a teenager in love and she was by my side. She would be mine forever. I felt the power of these thoughts running through my veins along with the blood of the people who had loved her, raised her and wanted only the best for her.
She spoke in her strange tongue but I didn’t care to understand. I just saw the indifference in her eyes and thought that if it wasn’t fear then she would be mine and we would run together over the fields and elude the storm. And she would find love for me.

Thunder was cackling in the distance but I paid it no heed. I was drunk from blood, drunk from the sheer magnitude of what had happened. Finally after all the misery, joy was mine to have and to hold.
For a week this sensation lasted. She was there with me, by my side. I brought her to a cabin in the woods that I had sometimes resided in and she slept until she could sleep no more and when she woke I had made her soup and I was full of smiles and she talked to me in her wonderful tongue and I listened without understanding and she let me touch her and she let me love her and she let me be everything for her.

And then one day she was gone. I rushed through the forest. I looked in the village. I looked everywhere I could think of. I ran up the mountain and I yelled at the wind and the rain and all evil of the world to help me.
And when I found her it was in a tree near the cabin that we dwelled. She had hung herself up in weak tree in a secluded grove. She had become one of them. She was dead, a corpse, green, pale, defiled and ugly.

Rage knows no limits but there was nothing to rage against. The little that was left of the man in me died there, and all that was left was this miserable being you see before you today. A stray skeleton who kills without caring to feed.

You are beautiful with that golden hair and your blue eyes filled with sky. I see light in you. Light I haven’t been able to walk in for a long time, not since she left me all alone. I see light in you and I see comfort in you and it almost saddens me that you are the last one.
There is no use arguing. You can scream until you’re blue in the face and you can try to convince me that you are really a red headed dwarf from the past or a grey haired man – I can see through you. I know what you are. You are the last one. After you there is nothing left.

The wars have ended. The cities are gone. The people who were scattered can’t survive the cold. You’re the last woman standing. When you’re gone I will slowly fade away, become dust in the desert or a teardrop in the rain, whichever lame metaphor you’re likely to succumb to.

Last woman on earth with the last monster. How is that for irony?
And I don’t care much. It all went away with her. Maybe if she had been who I wanted her to be everything would have been different. Perhaps then there would have been hope but she was just like the rest of them. Beautiful, empty, cowardly and afraid and I was the beast, the monster who haunted her.

She was just like everyone else, like the warmongers, like the men screaming with coldness in their eyes. And when I heard that the cities had fallen and realised that there was very little left I made it my mission to haunt the ones who had survived.
You’re the last one. You stand alone. Golden brown hair and all.
And now you are mine.

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