The 5 Stages of Grief

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Chapter 9, Sgt. Whitford

The scene assaulting his eyes, his senses, was beyond comprehension. It was as if some giant, out-of-body cancer, was attacking him from every angle, every inch of his body at once and he was paralyzed, utterly helpless to protect himself. The first thing to hit him was the sound. A thousand-billion flies, like electricity. Some huge city-block sized generation plant, its reverberating hum so loud you could feel it in your bones and teeth, the backs of your eyes. He could not believe he’d not noticed it before, heard it outside. The only explanation: somehow the stench had weakened his senses – like flooding your lawnmower engine, the vile odor had shut down his mind to preserve his sanity. He didn’t know if it was possible – though found it fascinating he was thinking about it at a time like this.

His body was numb as if so much current were running through it and the slightest movement might cause his heart to explode. His hair hummed down to the root and any moisture had evaporated from the inside of his nose, his mouth also as he went to speak and couldn’t open his lips. He was afraid to move, petrified to the spot, though it appeared there was no need as everything was displayed before him. He couldn’t have pulled away anyway if his life depended on it.

The smell, wretched beyond anything he’d experienced in a lifetime of disgusting, took a back seat as the rest of his senses were barraged, infected by the sickening collage of rancid and repugnant. Blended, the odor had become taste filling his mouth with the scent, the repulsive tang like metal and puke and month-old bile creeping up from your guts if you’d been lying dead, decomposing. He tasted blood, realized he’d bitten the inside of his cheek so hard, a piece of flesh now dangled and twirled as he teased it with his tongue.

Taking it all in, all at once, all five senses assaulted by these vile experiences, perversions of humanity, his body beaten, battered by his mind, his mind by whatever remained of his soul. He had no chance, could never un-see this, not ever, he would remember this until he died.

He didn’t know if the body poured out upon the dining-room table was male or female, couldn’t tell. The horrid mound of writhing flies, gore, and maggots was sexless to him. It appeared as if all the skin had been flayed from the body and tacked to the wall in strips, spelling out a message to what could only be a loved one or hero, a mentor of some kind. It read, Thank you for your years of patients. It is the least I could do!

It was hard to make out at first, with the blood and bits of gore and fat dangling from the sliced flesh. The play on the word patients also threw him, but hell, anything could have tangled his mind at that moment considering his stunned condition, the twisted emotions, tattered senses that were his tools of reason. That he was a mess there was no doubt, it was a miracle he could decipher the message at all.

He heard the shuffle beside him and remembered the rookie had come along to take notes. He spoke quietly, surprised his voice didn’t shake or quiver, too afraid to look at the kid, that his face might give him away causing the kid to snap or breakdown. Maybe it would be him?

“Let’s go outside to complete our notes. You okay with that?”

The rookie’s voice was solid, no more shaky than his own. “I thought you’d never ask.”

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