Sun, desert, shivering horizon and heat that fumes from the dusty ground was all I could see, feel, taste. Zarain vultures circled above me, checking am I ripe for the taking. My stench drew them, following me in a cloud along with the nasty flies thirsty for my blood. I barely fought those winged beasts off last night trying to sleep. One of them stuck its beak in my leg, that’s why I limp so much. Run? Who is crazy enough to run in this heat, this golden plain with no life.
I moved my shirt I wrapped around my head and gave it a twist to squeeze out a few drops of sweat, then I put it back on the head and kept dragging my leg. I don’t know for how long am I walking in this desolated place, just what flashes tell me, and they speak volumes. A gentle breeze carries the smell of depleted plasma as my vision occasionally recognizes that pale light blue shade levitating in the distance. My Sergeant’s face screams at me when I close my eyes and a rigid smile on a dirty faces of falling Ildocians wake me up like a cold shower. Humming of my daughter is one flash that orders my legs not to stop, but the pace is slowing down so gradually that I don’t even notice I moved just few steps from my previous position.
Solitude. My only companion that plays my memories in the background, making me see the ghosts bravely charging the Zarian streets, dodging flaming bullets, screaming our maxima “Aramon wills it, death to Zaria!”. They all fall hit by comets, few even fall together, struck with the same bullet and war dust settles over their lifeless bodies, turning them into grainy statues between grey burning buildings. Chaos! That was chaos I left behind.
My eyes decided to play a game with me, showing me a battle wagon running straight at me. It passed the dune and rose a cloud of yellow dust with its tracks, then it shifted left to evade me. I couldn’t even pick my head up and look at them, but I hoped it to be the enemy and end this torment.
– A hero. – the driver said smiling, freshly shaved and fed.
– A deserter. – the other guy groaned looking down on my as he spat on the hot soil, – Ildocians never pull back, not even when they fuck! He supposed to fight the war, not flee from it! Look at him. Weak. Broken. Beaten. – he pointed at me with his black beard and moved his sight away in disgrace.
– What happened soldier? – driver asked smiling from the Sun, enjoying his time with me, searching for my two tired eyes in my shirt.
– They are all dead. – I spoke with a sore throat.
– You better be saying that about the enemy! – co-driver said it in haste and jerked in his seat, but the driver smiled again at his friend and turned at me.
– Who is dead soldier? – he asked without moving that smirk that teased me to rip it off from his face.
– ALL OF THEM!!! – I shouted and boys went silent, – Ildock is destroyed. There are not one of our soldier alive out there. Zaria is burning and I am the only one left.
– We need to get back to Ildock and warn the King. We are left without garrisons on the wall. Konia, Gratna, Matock or Petrosy mercinaries can attack us if they hear we are left defenceless. – driver spoke softly to the co-driver that held his eyebrows low and bit his lip.
– That’s why no one will know about it. – he said in an ill voice peaking at me through the gap between the driver and a wheel.
– What are we going to do with him? – driver leaned in a co-drivers shoulder when his friend leaned at him and said.
– Leave the deserter to rot in the desert. Vultures will hide the evidence. – he rose his eyes slightly upwards, when the driver pressed the paddle down and drove away rising cloud of dust for me tu suffocate in.
Solitude was my only true companion.