Walking. Always walking. That's all. Just walking. I keep my eyes on the captain in front of me. He's the only other thing for a hundred miles, a solitary figure breaching the white line of the horizon. Stare in any other direction, and all you would have to look at was the vast emptiness of the desert stretching off to the point it met the vast emptiness of the sky.
We walk in silence. Leaves me to my thoughts, and him to his. He doesn't even look at me. Hell, I could have collapsed from dehydration 20 miles ago and he wouldn't have noticed. Or maybe he just didn't care. It's the same as being alone in this God forsaken place, except you have to walk. Alone, I could have ended it days ago. Weeks ago even. With the Captain, I'm just going to march until I die or go insane. Who knows, maybe I already have?
It's enough to drive any sensible man to madness, let alone my fragile mind. Sometimes I can still hear the shells ringing in my ears. I flinch every time they go off, even though I know it's all in my head. My bare feet feel like they're bleeding still, even though the blood stopped flowing three days ago. The captain didn't bleed. Skin like his ain't got no blood to bleed. Yesterday I took a sip from my canteen, only to find it was filled with sand. It was only when I spat out violently that I realized that I was hallucinating.
Morning is the only time he acknowledges me. When it gets dark the Captain just stops, lies down on the floor, and closes his eyes. I lie next to him, and try to get to sleep the best I can on the hard dirt. In the morning he kicks me awake, and we start to walk again. We've be going for this routine for about three days.
He stops. After three days of walking, he stops. For a few seconds he is silent, just staring at the horizon wordlessly. And then he speaks. His voice is dry and cracked, a lot different to how I remember it.
"What's your son called?" The question took me aback so much, I couldn't think of a reply.
"What?!" Was all I could say.
"You have a son. What's he called?" He was still looking at the horizon, facing away from me. I couldn't even see his face.
I stared blankly. The name. The name of my son.The name of my only child. I couldn't remember it.
"Fuck." I spat at him.
He was laughing now. He knows I can't remember. He knew I didn't know the name of my only son.
He was still laughing as I grabbed him by the hair, and threw him to the ground. I slammed his head twice against the dirt, leaving a bloody mark. He hadn't reacted, he was still laughing and staring away into the distance. suddenly, I feel myself jump on him, and stab at his throat with my fingers. They punctured the soft flesh, and pushed into his windpipe. I tore it open. Blood was on my hands. Blood was on his face. Blood was on ground. Blood everywhere. And he was still laughing. Loud as the rumble of artillery, his laugh echoed through the fragile caverns of my ears, piercing my every thought. I had to stop the fucking laughter. I had to stop it. It sounded like it was coming from everywhere. I grabbed the head, and twisted. Using my feet, I pulled at the neck and spine. With a horrible rip, the head flew clean off the body, spraying the rusty liquid in to the dry noon air. I inspect it. Still grinning. It's mouth is still contorted into a horrible grin. It's eyes are still open, but they roll listlessly in their sockets. I stare at the human remains in my hand for a good few minuets. Just looking into the dead mans eyes.
Then they looked back. Just for a second, I swear to whatever god I have left, the eyes flicked upwards, and looked directly into mine. I scream, and throw the cranium as far as I can. Silence. For a few seconds I breathe. Then I fall to my knees on the bloodstained dirt, and cry. Sobbing racks my entire body. And then it's over. The helicopter above me is whirring to loudly to think. The dust is kicks up, stinging in my eyes and still open wounds. It's impossible to see anything but the dust. A soldier from the chopper is emerging from the wall of dust, rifle raised. He sees my uniform, and lowers the gun. When he reaches me, he places his hand on my shoulder.
"It's all right son, everything's gonna be okay"