Wednesday 18 May 2016

The Prince of Exiles, 3

I open my eyes. Breathing heavily, panting, the growing feeling of acid across my shoulders, my chest, my calves, record of long, hard exertion.

Everything smells of the slaughterhouse.

The metallic, warm smell of fresh blood, the smell of the shit and piss that follows as the extinction of life brings with it the extinction of dignity.

I am looking into the eyes of a young man, a startling green. His skin is a reddish brown, hair tied in a long pigtail. He gapes, gasps and his eyes lose their light, roll back. My sword – I pull it out from under his breastbone, out through his diaphragm. It makes a sucking sound that, with the overwhelming smell, makes me suddenly queasy, jars me with the knowledge that this is a thing that I am used to, that should not bother me, should not make me sick. He topples backward, his eyes at last unseeing, his own sword falling from limp fingers, red stain overwhelming his patterned tunic.

I close my eyes. For a second I can still see his face imprinted on it. I wonder where he came from. What sort of life he had. Who will weep for him. I shift my feet, slow down my breathing.

I'm standing on a corpse. Under a blank grey sky, sunless, on a field full of corpses, a thousand, two thousand, five thousand men and women, weapons discarded, scattered around them, some impaled on their own spears, propped up one them. Some shot, some dismembered, killed in any number of ways. The smell of the abattoir, and the sure knowledge of my having done this work, done all of this myself.

I killed them all. Just me. 

[Collected Writings Index