This is just a random something I dashed off on the spur of the moment– less than 500 words, so I may send it to some essay/short story contest someplace in the future. This story is respectfully dedicated to the men and women in our military. May God bless them, and may St. Michael protect them.
On with the story!
The old healer sighed out into the darkness, barely lit by the gleam of a firmament of stars half-obscured by the smoke and mist that slowly unfurled themselves like lazy serpents, preparing to glut themselves on the blood of the slain, undeserving vultures slothfully uncurling ratted wings.
Another young warrior had outsighed his last breath into the all-encompassing, swallowing, devouring night. Night was no longer virgin or innocent. It had sated itself on the blood of innocents, and it still sought for more. The man was still young—very young—barely out of his teens—maybe not even out of them yet. And yet, it was he that had died.
And he was only one of many. He had not been the first. And he would not be the last one on that dreadful night.
For a moment, the healer just stared at the young victim of the war. It was always the young who died in a war, both good and bad. This young man just looked so innocent, from his fair hair to the soft, gentle features. Maybe he had killed for the first time just in that day; maybe he had not found it in himself to do so. The healer sighed. Some of these casualties died just because they were unable to kill. And he didn’t even know the boy’s name. At the end of the battle—perhaps at dawn, perhaps later—a report would be submitted to the general, with the numbers of killed and wounded. This boy would only be a statistic to the man. He would always be unnamed, no one would ever know who he was. Ever. And tomorrow, he would just be one among the thousands. But never to the healer. To the healer, the young warrior would not be faceless. He would always remember the boy’s face, how he looked as he lay there, on his bier.
For a moment, it seemed that the young man was lying on a funeral pyre, and just for a moment, he was not nameless. He was Boromir, lying in a funeral boat to float over the falls, and Arthur on the brushwood in his, set afloat on a lake and lit with a thousand flaming arrows, and Qui-Gon Jinn, caught up in the flames; he was the innocent and the fighter, the one who dies young, the one who lives and dies in a flash, the child of yesterday and man of tomorrow, cut off in his prime. He was the soul of hope.
And then that moment passed on, and the healer returned to his duties.
After all, this young man would not be the last one to die that night.