Breathe. Breathe! Run for your life young soldier. Hatch from the trenches and charge the enemy barricades. Screams in earshot, brass rounds tearing the young flesh of a comrade as you witness mists of blood in flight like beacons. A warning my young friend. Rifle waving, bullets spitting like flame-licked darts, piercing across open ground, merciless in their action, a soft thud as they break skin, shatter bone, implode beating hearts bleeding within. A devil’s cry of fear - deep and corrupted from your constricted soul. The black stumped landscape of no-man’s land silhouettes carcass soldiers, rotten and dry-skin patched, pecked by buzzards, raped by war. Limbs shredded, gangrene stained. Eyes an empty space of egg-white pus. Dried dead faces a scar of twisted pain, etched like cracked canvass on a dead man’s sculpture. Mud bowls slowing you down, making your heart furnace burn. Aching, wrenching. Ignore the fear it’s all too close. No more questions of the Lightening People, the Dreamtime and the ones you left behind. A foreign man in a foreign land expect to die and for nothing in return. But you’re focus-ready. Orientating to your destiny. Jump the corpse hurdles and don’t look into their eyes. The dead know the truth and as they lay strewn over parapets, spike-chest torn, ribs an opening to their dried, black organs displayed like a butcher’s window they watch the rage sink this once peaceful field as thousands upon thousands give up their lives on these foreign lands. Questions young soldier. Is it your turn? Are you destined to be soil-buried in this damp, cold climate away from your dreams of dry parched settlements a continent away? Who will tell your story to children so ardent for tales of heroes and glory? Keep running! Foreign guns ahead blow a man apart. His head bursts into a fine spray of rainbow mist and for a second he is frozen in time as he drops his weapon, his body recoils and his spine shatters within. Jump the body, ignore his vanquish.
Eyes to the front. Raise your weapon and align the sights. Take aim. Fire! A thunder-flash as one by one you empty your magazine. A hit! Somewhere in the distance your round makes contact. A young soldier your age rolls back into his trench, his chest afire. He calls from froth-corrupted lungs and spews his last breath as he watches the sky and the land merge. Keep your footing, you’re closer. The guns are louder and more deadly. Your throat discharges bile and burns acid-pain. You see weapons turn your way with bursts of flame. For a second nothing then you’re on fire. Steel violates and runs unchecked in your exposed torso. The punch of a round pushes you to the ground and you writhe in agony. A heavy boot lands atop of you squeezing out the little air you have. Flak ricochets within, puncturing organs, splintering bones. Ablaze, aflame, alight! Skin melting off molten bone and as the oil-thick blackness of your mind takes you; you breathe out final words. “Elizabeth, Elizabeth.”