Light Infernal

Light Infernal

A Story by Carbon Muse
"

A rough attempt at my first short story. Any and all guidance will be immensely appreciated as I may expand it into a prologue for a novel if the concept, at least, is received well.

"
A cool night breeze blew through the open window of the cardiology ward.  “Eighty years”, he thought to himself as he listened to the rhythmic ‘tick, hiss … tick, hiss,’ of the ventilator above his bed.  “That must be a new record for me,” he whispered in wonderment to no one in particular.  
The nurse looked up and smiled at him.  Placing her pen down on the chart table in front of her, she rose and made her way to his side.  Picking up his frail arm with her index and middle finger on the inside of his wrist, she watched the clock on the wall as it ticked down the seconds.  Making a quick calculation in her head, she drew a vial of clear liquid from her waist pouch along with a syringe.  
“What will it be this time,” he murmured as she pierced the protective membrane of the vial and drew the liquid into the syringe.  “So much time has passed, yet so little has changed,” he sighed.  For once, that feeling of anticipation was no longer there.  His soul seemed heavy and weary, not wanting to leave his body knowing what lay ahead once it did.
With the nail of her index finger, she flicked the syringe a couple of times, sending the air bubbles rocketing upwards through the clear liquid, before expelling it out the end.  A stream of fluid arcing out as a result.  
“Why do we keep doing it…?” he asked, “They don’t learn, they never learn.”  
A concerned frown spread over the nurse’s brow as she poked the needle into the valve of his IV and proceeded to empty the contents of the syringe into the catheter.  
The cool fluid rushed through the clear tubes and into his body.  He could feel it coursing through his veins, seeping deep into his brain and toying with his neurons.  
With a melancholy look on her face, the nurse retreated back to her station, picking up her pen once more, staring at the blips and flashes of the monitors measuring his vital signs.  
Closing his eyes, Gadreel gave in to the numbing sensation as vivid memories started flashing through his consciousness.  
 **
Men screamed all around him through the sounds of cannon and musket fire as fires sprung up in the wake of an incendiary shell.  “Cavalry! Charge!” came the order.  Raising his sabre high above his head, he spurred his mount.  His pure white stallion reared slightly and whinnied, its hooves hacking clumps of green turf from the ground as its muscular legs propelled it forwards.  Charging out from behind their line in a mass of disarray and chaos, his regiment cleared the friendly cannons.  One by one, like the tributaries of a river, they joined the neatly forming column.  Their sabres at the ready, they charged ahead at full gallop, their mounts snorting as they thundered along with puffed out chests and heads held regal as though in defiance of the enemy cannons.  
Gadreel gave a quick glance to his right and then to his left.  The two Dragoons racing on either side seemed oblivious of him, their full attention on the fast approaching row of cannons.  Yet when he motioned to the left with his sabre over the withers of his stallion, the left most Dragoon responded without hesitation.  Pulling on the reigns, the Dragoon veered his horse towards the left, pulling the column along in a smooth, shallow turn.  
As the column cleared the turn, a shell tore through the last rank of riders, striking the lower legs of the horse in the first file and bringing it down in a flurry of hooves, pinning its rider and leaving him writhing in agony as the full weight of his mount crushed his leg.
Still carrying an immense amount of momentum, the shell rebounded off the top edge of a boulder, passed within inches of the next mount’s belly and unhorsed the last rider in the rank.  With no rider to guide it, the mare charged on in a straight line, dragging it’s rider behind it as the rest of the column continued on their diagonal path to outflank the line of cannons looming ahead.  
In a mixture of pain and elation, thinking his part in the grim scene was played out, the pinned down rider closed his eyes.  The smell of gunpowder wafted across him and for a moment he paid it no heed, that is, until he heard an ominous hissing sound.  Looking over in surprise, his eyes grew larger as the shell came rolling back down the field and came to a halt in front of his face.
Gadreel once again motioned with his sabre, this time to the right and the column veered sharply towards the enemies flank, turf and dirt raining down on them as the shell exploded with a loud concussive blast in the background.  One of the riders in the last rank, doubled over in his saddle as a stray shot from the exploding shell tore through his left shoulder.  Clutching at the wound, with his sabre still in his right hand, he dug his spurs into the flanks of his faltering mount, urging it to keep up the charge.
In a mass of confusion the ranks of riflemen, caught off guard by the charge, rushed around in a clumsy effort to bring their rifles to bare but it was too late.  The column of Dragoons had already flanked their line and was now charging down the narrow corridor between the riflemen and the cannon teams.  Without missing a beat, Gadreel switched places with his right flank and held his sabre out to the side, slashing the unprotected canoneers as he raced past.  His left flank followed suit, cutting down the front rank of riflemen without mercy.  Those left standing attempted to open fire on the column as it streamed past but the center file had held back. Streaming onto the trailing end, they carved down the second rank with not so much as a single shot being fired.
Having gathered his wits, a lone soldier charged out in front of Gadreel, his gleaming bayonet pointing straight at his stallion’s breast.  With an ear splitting squeal, the stallion reared up on its hind legs, thrashing at the soldier with its front hooves.  Gadreel instinctively pushed his body forward, keeping his centre mass over his mounts rear, preventing him from being thrown to the ground.  Regaining his composure he raised his sabre back over his shoulder, preparing to bring it down in a mortal sweep that would cleave the soldier in two when his stallion came back down.  
A cannon roared behind him and the un-supervised carriage careened backwards into his stallion’s legs, toppling it over backwards, cutting his attack short.  With a guttural scream the French riflemen, seizing his chance, charged down on him and thrust his bayonet at Gadreel’s chest.
 *
Writhing in pain as the cold steel pierced his chest, he gripped the stock, trying to drive it back.  “Fur den Fuhrer!” yelled a German soldier in the distance.  The sound of booted footsteps echoed through the stone plaza as another wave of soldiers poured through the marbled façade of the Reichstag.  
“Ihr kampf ist vorbei! … aufgeben!” sneered the soldier through his teeth, coaxing Gadreel to give in the fight as he pushed harder, driving the bayonet deeper into his chest.  
Gadreel roared back at him, pushing back with all his effort.  Grenade and mortar fire rocked him to the very core as his platoon assaulted the machine gun emplacements ahead of him.  Billowing clouds of smoke poured down the steps, stinging his eyes and blurring his vision.  
Trampling up the stairs, another platoon swarmed past him, lancing the approaching Germans with their bayonets and smashing their rifle butts into their heads and faces before disappearing through the door-way.
His foot slipped on the bloodied steps, allowing the blade to slice upwards.  Cringing he tried to steady himself as the German thrust his blade deeper still, piercing his heart.  His heart shuddered and his body convulsed in desperation for oxygen as his vital organ started to falter.  

“Aufgeben! … Warum sind sie kampfen it!”  Taunted the soldier with sadistic pleasure as he twisted the blade in the wound when a loud clap echoed through the plaza as a sniper shot rang out.  


Gadreel watched as the soldier’s helmet leapt off his head, the powerful round tearing straight through and out the other side of his skull. With a blank, bewildered stare, the soldier toppled over backwards.  


A sense of vertigo overcame Gadreel when he realized … his body was following suit.  As the two soldiers parted, a sudden sense of joy and relief overcame him.  High above on the upper balcony, allied soldiers were jeering and waving their firearms in the air.  Brandishing his knife, one of the soldiers slit the rope holding the tattered Nazi flag to the balcony pillars, sending it fluttering down to the ground.


His eyes tearing up, Gadreel’s limp body hopped down the sandstone steps.  “Medic!” a scream rang out from across the plaza.  Through his blurring, fading vision, he could vaguely make out the red-crossed helmet bearing down on him, the look of grim determination transfixed on the field medic’s face. 


*


“Hold him still!” Gadreel yelled as he looked down on the youth, flies already caking and buzzing about the wound.  “Hang in there son, were going home!”  Applying pressure on the dying soldier’s chest, bright red arterial blood spurted through his fingers.  In a frantic effort to staunch the bleeding, he poured the white powder into the gaping hole and applied a wad of bandages.  “Where’s that evac!” he yelled as he looked about.


All around, soldiers were cleaning up the aftermath of the battle, picking through the corpses of the Viet Cong soldiers as they searched out survivors.  Lone shots rang out as they administered mercy death to those too far gone for medical intervention to matter.

 

“Wait one…” The radio operator said, holding out his finger to Gadreel as he listened to the voice on the other end of the field radio, nodding his head.  “Ten minutes out,” he replied as he held his hand over the mouthpiece.


Gadreel’s eyes grew wide as he shook his head as gently as he could, trying not to alarm his patient.


“Expedite! Expedite!” The operator yelled into the mouthpiece as he walked off, the earpiece still pressed against his face and the field radio dangling loosely in his weary grip.


Yanking off his field jacket, his olive T-shirt sweat-stained from the oppressive jungle heat, Gadreel worked the wound.  Applying wad after wad of bandages, he looked at the soldier next to him. “Water!  Now!” he shouted.


As pale as he could be, the private unscrewed his canteen and handed it to Gadreel, his hands still shaking with adrenaline from the fight and the sight of one of his platoon lying in a pool of his own blood. 


Rinsing the wound, Gadreel started the process again, first the sulfa powder then the bandages.


Nauseated at the site of the dark red blood pouring out of his platoon mate’s chest, the private choked and turned away, heaving violently.


Keeping the pressure on the stricken soldier’s chest, Gadreel slapped his hand on the privates back, encouraging him.  “Talk to him.  Let him know you are here”.


The private nodded with enthusiasm as he grabbed his mate’s hand.  Responding to the touch, the stricken soldier half raised his hand, sputtering and gurgling, dark red blood running down the side of his mouth.


“I got you Jimmy!” the private encouraged, squeezing the soldiers hand tight.  “Were going home!  Don’t you dare die on me now!  You still owe me a fifty!”  The soldier tried to laugh at the jest but his body started convulsing and heaving. 


Gadreel pushed the private away and started working his patient’s chest with his palms.  The blood flow slowed to a trickle between his fingers as he listened with his ear to the soldier’s mouth.  Repeating the process he pumped the soldier’s chest, drops of sweat trickling down his determined brow, his dog tags chiming and rattling as they swung to and trough around his neck.  Raising his bloody hands, Gadreel assessed the wound as he rocked back on his heels.  Still looking at the youth’s gentle features he sighed and stated with remorse, “Welcome home soldier,” as he closed the youth’s eyelids with his two fingers.


**


“Calling time of death…” the head nurse’s voice sounding distant and hollow as she looked up at the clock on the wall “…midnight, precisely”, an eerie sense of awe and superstition filling her voice.


The nurse looked over at her superior, her hand resting on the graphs and plots that held the records of Gadreel’s final moments.


“I know…,” whispered the head nurse, “I have been doing this for longer than I can remember and it never gets any easier.”


“It’s not so much the loss,” the nurse started, “It’s the delirium near the end that always gets me.”


The head nurse nodded as she picked up the blue ribboned medal of honour lying on the side table.  “Welcome home soldier”, she whispered, lovingly tracing the outlines of the gold overlay star.


***


There was a brief moment of utter darkness, of utter silence.  Yet, for some strange reason, it wasn’t a moment of fear or dread but rather one of peace, of pure calm and contentment.  No emotion, no senses stirring, just the serene embrace of the dark.  When out of nowhere, he was rocked out of the momentary state of bliss. 


A pinprick of light started forming out of the darkness.  Gradually it started to grow, slow at first but as it increased in size so did the rate at which it grew.  A mixed sensation of anger and fear boiled up in him and he wanted to shout out “No!  I want to stay!  I want to rest!”, but he kept quiet till the light was so bright it replaced the darkness and it was the darkness that was fighting to find a foothold.


The fear and anger was at once replaced by one of warmth and caring, “Welcome home” it seemed to say, reaching deep within him and wrapping him in a warm embrace that no mortal form could ever achieve.


“It is done,” he responded.


“I know…” came the reply, the sense of a warm glowing smile, enveloping him.


He waited for more but there was none.  “I am ready once more,” he submitted duty bound, but the glowing smile remained and it startled him.  

“Did I offend!?” he demanded, pleading for an answer, a pang of pain shooting through him as he thought of his earlier feelings of anger and defiance.

Still there was no response, just an overwhelming sense of pride and gratitude.  The light retreated ever so slightly, the overwhelming brightness replaced by a warm glow. 

Gadreel felt himself being pulled in one direction.  Uncertainty gripped him as he looked past the curling plumes of light.  Off into the distance, he could see a shape forming.  Not as yellowish bright as the light in front of him but a pearl white, so pure that it reflected the light and he once again found himself blinded by it.  

He thought himself going mad as he heard a vaguely familiar echo reaching out to him from the past but then, his sight started to return and the vision along with the echo became clear. 


“He is yours, for all eternity,” rang the answer clear and bright. 


His soul soared at the vision of his faithful stallion standing between the curls of light.  Its neck bowed regal, it nodded with impatience at Gadreel, snorting and pawing at the ground. 


“Whenever you need him, he will be near.  Whenever you see him, know you are the favourite.  Know that your duty and sacrifice has been the highest and know, it was not in vain.”


Gadreel was suddenly overcome by dread as he tore his vision from his faithful companion and looked around bewildered.  All around, sparks of light glided up into the heavens, like that of a mass exodus. 

“But I don’t understand.  How?  Why!”  Again Gadreel sensed the glowing smile.


“There is but only so much we can do.  We can prolong the inevitable but in the end, they always perish.  We need them to give us shape and form and we guide and help them to make the most of their fleeting existence.”


Gadreel fell silent, a deep feeling of grief overwhelming him as a massive eruption rocked the tiny blue and green planet below him.  In an instant, it was engulfed in flame burning twice as hot as the sun, unrecognisable, uninhabitable … dead.


“Mourn now and be with that which personifies what you loved so much, about the life you shared with them.  But do not fear, this is not the end.” 


In the darkness, far beyond the reach of the sun, a shape appeared.  Made visible by the brighter, newborn sun, rising out of the ashes of the earth.


“I am ready once more,” repeated Gadreel but this time, the light’s glow started to fade away, the deep dark of midnight crowding back in, slowly regaining its embrace over Gadreel.


“Rest now, for I have heard your plea.  Rest now, for you deserve it.  Do not feel ashamed as much had been asked of you.”


Gadreel watched as the light retreated, the brilliance of his white steed, the only remaining beacon of its warmth as it slowly walked over to him.  Rubbing his velvet muzzle he kissed its snout and whispered in its ear.  “You are not mine, I am yours”.


Twitching its ears the stallion gave a little snort and nudged Gadreel as though to say, “You are not mine, we are one.”


With one fluid motion, Gadreel flung himself onto the stallion’s bare back, pulling at its mane to make it rear in salute to the last pinprick of light, fading away in the distance.

 

 

© 2015 Carbon Muse


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Author's Note

Carbon Muse
Don't know what to rate it as, due to the graphic nature of some scenes and content that could influence young readers religious beliefs. You never know in today's time what is "acceptable" as it differs wildly between continents, so let me know if I should change it.

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Reviews

Wow, that was an excellent story. I really enjoyed it, especially the concept of reincarnation. It is always both an interesting and difficult thing to write about, as it is hard to get it right without confusing the reader. The transition between his memories of his past lives were fluid, and I loved how they shared a common element at the moment of transition (like being stabbed in the heart, and then trying to save someone who has been stabbed in the heart). The way you started the story also made the other scenes easier to understand.

Besides enjoying it, I also found it a great example and reminder of how I can/should write, something I have been struggling with recently. It has motivated me to get back up to my usual writing level, and to start working on some of the big projects I have been postponing.

Posted 4 Years Ago


Carbon Muse

4 Years Ago

I am flattered that it would inspire you so and I'm glad you enjoyed it :)

Thank you .. read more
A good story well executed. I liked the concept and would be happy to read something like this if it was expanded.

I know this is a bit of a blokey thing but some of the details of the cavalry charge aren't as good as they should be. I'm happy to discuss in a message rather than here.

A typo stood out - canon instead of cannon

Posted 4 Years Ago


Carbon Muse

4 Years Ago

Thank you for the review and I'm glad you liked it :D I'll most probably pursue it in between "Scar.. read more
As being in the medical field, I find the first scene perfectly described. I liked it so much with knowledge of every single step of giving IV.
Especially "she flicked the syringe a couple of times, sending the air bubbles rocketing upwards through the clear liquid, before expelling it out the end."
I even thought that you might be in the medical field too, comsidering also the following scene. ;)
The second scene. War is always chaotic. Writing about a battle is a challange you managed very well. You get us a good picture well described of your hero.
I liked the transition from "The field of batttle's welcome back soldier" to " The hospital's time of death".
At this point, I supposed that the story will end. But you gave another scene which I was unable to find as an addition. I don't seem to find the relation between the hero and his stallion to be one at the end of such a story. I hope you might clarify this to me.
Anyway, I like your style and perfect description.
Keep writing us short stories. :)

Posted 5 Years Ago


Carbon Muse

5 Years Ago

Thank you so much for the review and your candid opinion on it. I am glad that you could relate to .. read more
Dr. Knightley

5 Years Ago

Sorry to hear about your condition. Living with a chronic illness might get hard sometimes ,but one .. read more
Carbon Muse

5 Years Ago

I am glad I could give you some more insight into my motivation :) Mania might not be very conduciv.. read more

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Added on November 1, 2015
Last Updated on December 3, 2015
Tags: Ethereal, Immortality, War

Author

Carbon Muse
Carbon Muse

South Africa



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