The Dying Moments

The Dying Moments

A Story by Undying Glory
"

My first stab at a story on this website. Inspired by Metallica about a gravely wounded soldier. Their song, "One", is featured here. Hope you like it!

"

 The Dying Moments

 

“Beep...beep...beep...”

The incessant beeping of the life support system was the only sound that broke the silence in the military hospital ward. On the bed lay a man, horrifyingly cut and burned. Deep gashes ran up and down the length of his torso. His arms and legs lay, withered, blackened and limp. His eyes were closed, his breathing shallow, burbling and difficult even with the life support system. Outside the ward, his friend, Private Salvatore Falcone, looked on at his prone body. The sadness could not be kept inside him no matter how hard Falcone tried. He felt tears well up in his eyes.

 

Falcone turned to the military doctor scribbling furiously on his clipboard. The doctor’s coat was crumpled and covered with multiple bloodstains. His nametag read “SANDERSON, EDWARD”. Thin, bespectacled and tall, and faced with a multitude of patients, Falcone thought he looked like one of the most fatigued people he had ever seen.

 

“Is he going to be okay?” Futile, Falcone knew, but surely there was a glimmer of hope, that his friend would pull through...?

 

The doctor shook his head and sighed. “You saw what happened to your friend back there. He’s lost a lot of blood and he’s got third-degree burns all over him.” He grimaced and fumbled for something in his pocket. “It’s a wonder he’s still alive, even now. He should have been killed there and then. I personally think it would be better if he were dead.” He pulled out a pair of battered, blackened stainless steel dog tags. The doctor pressed the dog tags into Falcone’s hand.

 

“Take good care of this. I’ve seen too many good men die in this war. And besides, no dead soldier should just be a statistic.” The doctor walked away. Private Falcone stared at the name on the dogtag.

 

WILFRED, OWEN

 

His eyes drifted to the ceiling, remembering what had happened just two days previously. He shook his head and sighed, a hard lump forming in his throat. Reaching into his pocket, he withdrew a grubby, yellow book, brittle from years of use and blackened at the edges from gunfire and artillery. Falcone turned to the last page of the book and began to read softly to himself.

 

 Saturday, 24 March 2019

2300 hours

Place: I DON’T EVEN KNOW WHERE I AM, FOR GOD’S SAKE!!

Nothing had ever felt so surreal in my whole life. I must have written this a million times, but I can’t believe the war had to start up again. There doesn’t seem to be any sign of the enemy. Maybe they’ve fell back to their next strongpoint or something. It’s just so quiet tonight. I still don’t know if my parents are really getting my letters. From what I hear, convoys are often ambushed, especially at night.

 

Finally, time to think about everything. God, when will this fucked-up war be over? At night I still hear the screams of the wounded, the unlucky and the dying. It’s just terrifying sometimes. Damn it, I’m just nineteen. I should have had my whole goddamn life ahead of me. Instead, I’m stuck here in this hellhole. I’m in my foxhole all alone now, ever since my pal got hit by a bullet between the eyes.

 

I hear sounds coming from the northern sector of the city. Hang on, that sounds like...Oh no. I’d better...

 

The last word, even now, was covered with a large bloodstain. The fragile book itself had almost been ripped in half by the piece of shrapnel that had penetrated it at phenomenal speed. Enemy artillery had opened fire on their position, and multiple shells had scored direct hits on Private Owen Wilfred’s foxhole. Private Falcone had found him after the barrage had ceased, buried under layers of dirt and barely alive. Falcone placed the journal back in his pocket. Sighing, he put on his helmet and began his slow, reluctant march back to the front lines.

 

Three hours later...

Dr Sanderson returned to the ward where Private Wilfred lay. The nurse tending to Private Wilfred’s many injuries looked up, her eyes wide.

 

“So?” he asked. “Any new developments with Private Wilfred here?”

 

The nurse shook her head in astonishment.

 

“Can you believe it? The EEG shows his mind is still alive! He can still hear too! Why, I think that he may be listening now even as we speak!”

 

The doctor raised his eyebrows in astonishment. Frowning, he walked over to the bed and tapped the shoulder of Wilfred’s unmoving body.

 

“Hey,” he whispered. “Hey, buddy, you there?”

 

In the mind of Private Wilfred...

Damn it.

Damn my fate.

I can’t move a muscle. I can’t speak. I can’t see.

 

I can’t do anything, for God’s sake. At least I can hear...and think. But I’m worse than a freaking cripple. There’s nothing left anymore. I’m lost...forever, I think. And the doctors...they’re like a million miles away. Like some long-lost voice in my head.

 

Be a war hero, they said. Fight for freedom and justice and democracy. But look at me now, I say. LOOK AT ME NOW!

 

Stupid war. Stupid, goddamn war. I’m doomed to spend the rest of my life in eternal darkness. Dulce et decorum est pro patria mori.

Yeah, right!!

 

The doctor nodded. “Alive and well mentally, I see. Let’s take him back home at first light.” Sighing with fatigue, he walked back out of the ward. The nurse followed suit. As she left the ward, she gave the fallen man one last look. Then the door swung shut behind her.

 

The night culminated in a vicious, terrifying storm. Rain battered the walls, windows and roof. Every roar of thunder caused the patients and even the doctors and nurses to flinch, every flash of lightning caused demented, crazed shadows to appear for the slightest of moments, bathing the hospital in eerie light. The swirl and howl of the wind rattled against the windows and shutters, and the demonic rain pummelled everything in its path. As the forks of lightning slashed the skies, Dr Sanderson looked up and shook his head.

 

“I say, that is one hell of a storm. Looks like it’s going to tear the whole hospital apart...” he muttered to himself. He turned and headed into his office. From what he knew, the enemy was amassing artillery and arms, preparing for a massive counteroffensive that could change the whole tide of the war. The next ‘harvest’ of fresh casualties would come soon enough, and he needed his rest...

 

Two massive explosions rocked the hospital. As nurses, medics, doctors and technicians rushed out like water held back by a floodgate, Dr Sanderson looked out a window. He watched in horror as he saw part of the hospital being engulfed in flames. The rising flames battled the rain, and the fire seemed to be winning. A young medic burst into his office, his eyes wide with surprise.

 

“Doctor! The main power generator is on fire! The emergency generator is down! They got hit by lightning and we are losing power rapidly!” His face was white, as though he had just seen a ghost. Dr Sanderson nodded and got up from his seat. As they rushed to the site of the fire, they grabbed fire extinguishers and unleashed a torrent of fire-retardant powder and carbon dioxide gas on the fire. Others grabbed buckets of water and threw them again and again over the fire. As the fire slowly suffocated, it spiralled inwards, desperate for oxygen, before finally dwindling to small embers.

 

The generators were nothing like how they were before. Twisted, grotesque chunks of metal they had become. A technician stared intently at the damaged generators, opening them up with his tools to examine the internal damage. Finally, he nodded.

 

“The main generator’s shot to hell, but the emergency generator can still be salvaged. Me and my buddies can fix this up, and we’ll have it up and running in a few hours.” He turned to Dr Sanderson. “Is there still anyone on life support?”

 

Dr Sanderson thought for a moment. Suddenly he remembered, and the air around him seemed to crush him like a tin can.

 

Private Wilfred knew something was wrong. His breathing had become that much more difficult, his heart struggled to beat. Still, even though his face could not show it, he smiled inside. Finally, he was going to be freed of all his misery. He remembered an anti-war film he had watched. And a song written about it by Metallica. It was a number, now what was it...?

 

One. That was it. Even now he could imagine the opening chords of the song, as clear as day in his head. As James Hetfield played the first few notes, and soon joined by Kirk Hammett. Lars Ulrich soon joined in. He listened intently to the song in his head as James Hetfield began to sing.

 

“I can’t remember anything...

Can’t tell if this is true or a dream...”

Oh, he could remember. He could see himself with his sobbing mother, how he had hugged her and promised her that he would send her letters whenever he could. He saw himself with his childhood sweetheart, feeling her soft, tender lips, looking into her deep blue eyes. Despite the fact that he could not feel anymore, his stomach did a back-flip remembering those times.

 

“Nothing is real but pain now...

Hold my breath as I wish for death...

Oh please, God, wake me!”

 

As the bridge played, Wilfred felt utterly sad. Knowing that those precious memories would never come again, he embraced them, lost himself in them. They always said your life flashed before your eyes before you died. At least he should enjoy it while it lasted.

 

“Back in the womb it’s much too real,

In pumps life that I must feel,

But can’t look forward to reveal...

Look to the time when I’ll live...

Fed through the tubes that stick in me,

Just like a wartime novelty...

Tied to machines that make me be...”

 

Wilfred had remembered his father, an ex-Army colonel, talking about the war when he was eighteen, just before his nineteenth birthday. His father had gripped him tightly as he spoke, tears in his eyes.

 

“Now’s when a boy becomes a man. After this war, you will appreciate what you have and what we have. Go, son. Make us all proud.”

 

Was this being a war hero? Being given a state funeral and medals posthumously? Wilfred felt immense disappointment at letting his father down. Would his father be proud of him?

 

“Now the world has gone...

I’m just one...

Oh God, help me...

Hold my breath as I wish for death...

Oh please, God, wake me!”

 

As a solo started, Wilfred remembered every second of the war, every comrade he had seen killed, every enemy soldier he had killed, every grenade explosion, every burst of machine gun fire, every rifle shot. How he had become best friends with his foxhole buddy, before a sniper got him in the head. He almost wanted to sing along as James Hetfield began to snarl,

 

“Darkness

Imprisoning me

All that I see

Absolute horror

I cannot live

I cannot die

Trapped in myself

Body my holding cell...”

 

“Landmine

Has taken my sight

Taken my speech

Taken my hearing

Taken my arms

Taken my legs

Taken my soul

Left me with life in hell...”

 

Despite everything that had happened to him, all his injuries, as the final solo started, Wilfred smiled. At least he was not exactly like the man portrayed in the song. He could still hear, and he could still remember. And most importantly, he would be out of his misery soon enough.

 

As the solo drew to its end, the grandfather clock in his ward struck twelve midnight. The echoing chimes reverberated throughout the ward, and the only thing now was pain, excruciating pain as his body suffocated. He tried to scream for his mother and father to help him. He drew his final breath, and soon his whole body went limp.

 

They came for him in the morning. He had been dead since midnight. 

© 2009 Undying Glory


Author's Note

Undying Glory
Tell me what you think, please...
Image taken from Wikipedia

My Review

Would you like to review this Story?
Login | Register




Reviews

Very interesting! What a sad, but peaceful ending!

Posted 8 Years Ago


Dude this is aweseome. But i wish he died a less excruciating death hahahah. Would probably make me dreamy when i hear Metallica again

Posted 8 Years Ago


This was really well written! Nothing like a storm to wreak havoc.

xxoxx

Posted 9 Years Ago


OK to start.... I loved this so much. The sadness weighed on me at his death but I love the fact that he enjoyed his life in the end.

Posted 9 Years Ago


Another awesome piece of writing, I like how you put me into the storyyy, which is the most important when writing. Great job man!!

Posted 9 Years Ago


This is the first story that I review and I'm glad it's awesome. It's like, you put the reader into the situation, I felt like standing there amidst all the rushes and happenings in the story. Well, you could say I guess the end. But that's really not a point. You have quite a good story-writing skill. Wishing you'd be a great writer someday. Keep writing.

Posted 9 Years Ago


Great story. Kept me reading!

Posted 9 Years Ago


good work

Posted 9 Years Ago


A powerful story. No weakness in this story. You spoke of war and pain. Create a scene of death and hope. The story held me to the last words. A surprise ending. I like the story. You are a writer my friend.
Coyote

Posted 9 Years Ago


The emotional content within this piece is great sweety:)
This is a unique piece of writing, excellent! xx

Posted 9 Years Ago



First Page first
Previous Page prev
1
Request Read Request
Add to Library My Library
Subscribe Subscribe


Stats

927 Views
19 Reviews
Rating
Shelved in 3 Libraries
Added on November 16, 2009
Last Updated on November 19, 2009

Author

Undying Glory
Undying Glory

Singapore, Singapore



About
The average guy you'd meet on the street, only with a hidden streak. Or several, for that matter. 24 year old, 4th year medical student, studying in Dundee, Scotland. Never underestimate the pow.. more..

Writing

Related Writing

People who liked this story also liked..


Trouble Trouble

A Poem by Tate Morgan