I Die Today

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Other  |  House: Booksie Classic
Would you fight death to fulfill a promise?

Mack has to try it. Though he's dying and has a million thoughts rattling off in his head, some which he writes down, he has one main focus that drives him to keep going. A promise.

Submitted: April 18, 2017

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Submitted: April 18, 2017

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“I die today”

 

Day 1

I never knew the Earth was so cold.  I’m on my back next to someone I don’t even know.  But, he’s not actually here.  His stench is filling me with fear.  Then I realize it’s not just him, but an entire army that is causing this stench.  I sit up.  My back cracks in multiple spots.  I guess I was terribly stiff after being on the ground for… well, I don’t know how long.  My eyes close as I stretch, just as if it were morning and I had just awoken.  I open my eyes and I see what I hope is a flashback.  Fallen bodies of men that are seemingly immovable.  But as much as I wish this were a flashback, I know it’s not.  The last I remember, there were men standing… no, running.  But where?  Why were they running?  I know I was running with them too, but the reason… I can’t remember.  But I do remember a few things.

Running and shouting orders.  I’m sitting with my back to a wall in a trench of wet sand.  A whole line of us are waiting for the order to run forward.  This is our only haven.  Further down the beach the sand is dry, except for the parts that are soaked in blood.  Digging up there isn’t possible and will waste too much time.  The man next to me peaks only for a second before his head jerks back and his body becomes limp and he falls into our trench.  We know he won’t be the only one.

Up ahead of the trench there are gunshots and explosions.  We have to move quick before our trench gets filled with water and ultimately gets formed back to its normal shape.  Then we hear the sound of our commander.  He yells for us to go and we stand up immediately.  Out in the distance I can only see sand and dust which acts like fog, leaving our vision impaired in a way.  Bodies are everywhere.  There are soldiers that are screaming, while others are silenced… forever.  Then we see a flare’s light protruding from the fog.  We know that’s where we’re to go and so we get out of the trench and run.  We know there are mines scattered under the beach, so we spread out to avoid multiple casualties at once.  There’s nothing on our minds except run, stay alive, run, stay alive.  Anything else will get us killed and then that’s it.  We reached the spot of the flare and saw another one even further up ahead.  The original number of us has diminished to only a few survivors.  Only half of the men that left the trench with us are still running now.  It’s at this point that we reached further than any other battalion and we must’ve set off a new line of mines. Explosions and sand filled the air and I was temporarily blinded and partially deafened.  A mine went off around twenty yards away and its blast sent the soldier everywhere and sent me to the side.  I guess I blacked out once I hit the ground.

 

Day 2

Crawling up this beach is a nightmare.  I thought the training was difficult, but when you can’t stand up and the sun is beating on you, you’d wish training day never ended.  At least they helped you if you got hurt or couldn’t continue.  But here I am, hurt and alone.  

I don’t consider the presence of dead bodies an actual presence, more of a disturbance.  I can’t tell who’s the lucky one here.  Next to me lies a man with his arms blown off and then there’s me where my left foot is blown off just below the ankle.  The only thing is that he’s he’s dead and doesn’t feel his pain.  He had his own story, his own life, his own death.  Now I wonder about my own.  I lived my life, I’ve made my story, and maybe it’s time for my death.  It’s most likely a race to see what’ll kill me first, the heat or the infection from my exposed wound.  Both are unbearable, but so is the idea of death.  It’s time I put my handbook away and get going.  There’s no telling how long until something kills me.  



 

Day 3

Mother nature hates me.  I spend a whole day crawling in the heat with an infection from losing my foot, only to have to spend the whole night in rain.  Nowhere to hide and keep dry.  It was freezing and my clothes were soaked.  Now it’s a three-way race to my death.  Infection, heat, and pneumonia.  God only knows which would be the best.  

It’s strange how after a few days you can go from excitement for battle, to trying to decide how you’d prefer to die.  I guess the mind is never at peace with itself.  There’s always a battle and everyone dies.  You can survive more battles than any man has seen, but in the end you will die.  

I did realize something though.  While writing my final goodbyes in this booklet there was someone that I was missing.  I got my parents, my two sisters, and even my dogs… but someone’s missing.  The difference here is that I never left him, he came with me.

Gareth.  He’s the one that’s not here.  But there’s something about him.  I can’t just write a goodbye.  Something is spurring me to tell him goodbye.  I need to see him one more time so I know he’s alright. We were in the same battalion as each other.  I remember him saying he’ll meet up with me where the beach started before we left.  The battle’s been over for who knows how long now and I’m still not at the spot.  He most likely gave up by now, but I might as well keep my share of the deal and make it to the agreed location.  He may be dead, or he may have left without me, but whatever the case is, something’s telling me to go.  Until then, I can’t die.  

I won’t die.

 

Day 4

Today is the test of yesterday’s words.  I have no idea how I’ll get to the start of the beach.  I’ll make it though.  I don’t know how, but I will.  Will power or something will make it happen.

I can only imagine how the inside of my leg is getting broken down like the dead bodies around me.  They go on forever in every direction.  Gangrene everywhere.  I guess that’s another thing racing to kill me.  I just hope I die so I don’t have to see it anymore.

I’m starting to assume these people around me are luckier than I am.  They don’t need to worry about pain or fatigue.  They simply lie on the ground and decompose like any other dead person would.  I get to go ahead and feel it all happen to me.  But a promise is a promise and I can’t break mine.  That’s something my mother taught me as a kid.

“You told your friends you’d go help them out”, said my mother once.  She was talking about a promise I made to my friends that I’d help them build a treehouse.  I was always that kid that would make up excuses and stuff to people as to why I couldn’t do things.  But my mother was always the one that would remind me these things.  I rarely told her things because of that.  She’d remember everything and there was no getting out of it.

My father was the complete opposite though.  He taught me that a person’s choice of words was the most important thing there was.  If you can talk smart then you can get out of any obligation known.  I remember him saying to me once, “Of course, there will be moments where someone’s just going to be stubborn and won’t listen to a thing you say.  Think of them as walls.  You can knock them down, but some walls are harder than others.”  My mother was one sturdy wall in that case.

Now I’m wondering what kind of wall death is.  I’ve been pleading for the past two days for my life and it doesn’t seem like I’m getting closer to my goals.  It’s tough moving up the beach, but I’m making a little progress every day.  

I’m surviving on a limited supply of water in a canteen I have and it seems this beach is filled with crabs, so food isn’t impossible to find.  The only problem is actually grabbing a crab and killing it.  Their claws are stronger than I thought.  These tiny little guys can hang on forever and will cut you in the blink of an eye.  And once they’re dead, good luck getting the meat.  I don’t know which is worse at this point, the sand in the cuts in my hands or the actual crabs themselves.  Either way, I have something to eat and that’ll do for me.

It’s getting a little dark now so I might as well crawl up the beach a bit more and find a better place to lie on the ground.  There’s way too many rocks over here.  

No refuge tonight, but maybe tomorrow will be my lucky day.

 

Day 5

Dead.  That’s all I can tell you about my leg.  It looks dead, it feels dead, and it’s serving me no purpose right now.  It’s dead.

I’d cut it off if I could, but I don’t have the guts to do it, nor do I have a way to do it.  All I can do it see it rotting away.  It’s an atrocious sight, but I guess the fact that I am the atrocious sight makes it easier to deal with.

Now that I think about it, I guess I’m dead right now.  I just mentioned how my leg looks and feels and if those two things make something up, then I’m dead.  I’m probably worthless as well.  I feel dead, I probably look dead, so I guess I’m dead.  Well, it’s official.  Zombies are real and, yes, they do feel pain.

I’m debating if I’d let someone put me out of my misery.  I always wanted to have an honorable death.  I don’t mean an “I just gave my life for someone else” kind of death though.  I mean a death where people remember me for the things I’ve done that have changed their lives for the better.  But, it doesn’t seem like that’ll happen.  I’m a crawling corpse who’s helped nobody, gotten nowhere in his life, and is suffering in what may be his final hours.  What honor is there in that?

That’s the main reason I have to get to the beach’s start.  It’ll give people a story to tell about me.  I’ll be known as the guy who crawled up an entire beach with a blown off foot, gangrene attacking his leg, survived on a canteen of water, ate crabs during the entire journey, and still met his friend where they’d planned previously.  That seems pretty honorable to me, except for the parts with the blown off foot, crabs, and gangrene.  

Looks like all I have left to do is make it up the beach.  It won’t be for honor, but for my own satisfaction.  Won’t that look great on a tombstone.  “Here lies Private Mack Pearce who lived and died in a satisfactory way.”

Now I’m just hoping they won’t bury me.

 

I’m going to die in a week at most.  There’s no doubt in my mind.  With infection destroying what’s left of my leg and my water slowly being used up, it doesn’t seem like there’s much hope in me.  I guess there wasn’t any hope in me anyway.  

For the first time since I woke up I started thinking about my battalion and the entire army in general.  I don’t know if they survived or not.  If they did then they must’ve thought I was dead, or just left me to die.  I know that’s a terrible way to think about it, but I’m pretty sure that’s exactly what happened.  What good is a man with his left foot blown off?  None.  He’s no good at all.

All I can feel now is agony.  Nothing is going well.  Literally.  Nothing.  I’m alone, I’m hungry, I’m probably sick, I’m weak, I’m… I’m nothing.  I’m also a failure, but what do failure’s achieve in their lives?  Nothing.

 

Day 6

If someone reads this, I know you may say my thinking is irrational, but bear with me.  Something in my mind is telling me someone did survive and did see me.  They definitely knew I was alive, but I guess they were just too much of a coward to help me.  That or they just wanted the glory for themselves.  They wanted to be able to say, “Hey, look at me, I’m a war survivor and hero!” when the truth is they’re all just cowards and traitors.  I hope they earn medals.  I hope the medals remind them of the horrors they saw.  Their own men behind slaughtered in a bloody massacre.  I hope they dream every night for the rest of their lives of the people screaming, suffering, and dying around them.  I hope they feel the pain I do, only mentally.  I hope it kills them from the inside out.  Let them all feel regret.  Let them know what it feels like to be dead.

As for me, I’m as good as dead as well.  I’d say I’m about a hundred yards away from where the beach starts, but I don’t know if I’ll make it.  I didn’t have any crabs to catch yesterday, so I’m really hungry.  It’s not like the crabs filled me up anyway, but they did help just a bit.  Moving is becoming one of the biggest burdens for me at this point.  I’m still going to push myself forward though because of the promise I made to Gareth.

Also, I have another little message for you cowards out there.  I hope you enjoy your great lives and all.  Being such great heros, I’m sure you’ll have great stories to tell of the war.  You’ll make up lies and tell people how you rescued a man or something.  You’ll use the same old clichés that you hear from other veterans and use them as your own.  Sounds good?  Or how about one of you actually show up over here right now with supplies and a bit of food and actually do something?  Show the world that you’re not afraid to go back to a battlefield and risk your life just to save one person.  That would impress me.  But then again, I guess I was right… you’re all cowards.

I’ll just carry on up the beach for now.  There’s no use in writing about the people who have nothing to write about.  I don’t want the person who reads this to be just as disgusted as I am.

One last note toward those cowards.  I hope you know I won’t dare to think of you again.  Good riddance.

 

Day 7

A week is a long time when you have nothing to do but crawl to what’s probably going to be your death place.  I still have hope in Gareth, but at this point I’m trying to be realistic, not hopeful.  The more accepting you are to death, the easier it’ll be when you realize you’re taking your last breaths.  It’s a sad way to think, but I know there’ll be people that think the same way I do.  If not, then they should.  It sounds like a good idea to me.  Maybe I should’ve been a philosopher.

If I can’t reach the beach’s beginning today then I’m as good as dead.  There’s honestly no hope in survival.  The truth in this all is that Gareth is either gone or dead, nobody’s around for miles in my luck, and no one will show up to help me.  I’ll die of infection, hunger, or something else that decides to kill me.  If so, let it kill me quickly.  I’m done with all this suffering.  Let me be a part of all these other corpses around me.  Let me know what it feels like to be like the rest.  Let me know what it feels like to be put to rest.  I want to be one with someone or something and it seems like the dead are the only ones accepting me.  If I’m to be one with them, so be it.

 

Day 8

This is it.  This is the last time my hand writes words.  Looking back at what I’ve written, I feel ashamed to have given no description of who I am.  There’s so much to say to so many people.  I guess it’s time to just write it all.

First, my mother.  Thank you for the life lessons.  You’ve taught me responsibility and discipline.  I was ahead of the game during training because of that.  It was your words and a picture of you at my bedside that kept me strong during the whole thing.  I hope they return the picture of you back.  If not, I want to be buried with it.  I never want to leave you.  I hope you know I loved you, even when I said I didn’t.  I take it all back now.  From your only son, your little Mack.

Dad.  There’s so much to say and so little time.  I’m blessed to have a father that gave me as much time as you did.  You always wanted to do things with me.  Even as I got older you kept on pushing me to go places with you.  I’m just sorry I stopped doing it all once I grew up.  A son should never grow out of their parents love.  It’s what forms a person and I rebelled.  I’d redo my life if I could and spend every second you offered.  I should’ve been a better son later on, but there are many things you can’t redo in life.  I’m sorry for my choices.  I wish you were here now to hear these words, but the truth is you aren’t.  I hope you take care of mom and give her the love I’ll never be able to.

Iris and Allis.  The two people I watched grow up.  You were the ones that kept me company every day for most of my life.  When I needed someone to talk to, you listened.  You probably didn’t understand most of the things I told you at the time because of the huge age gap, but you still listened intently.  In return, I listened to you guys and helped guide you through your lives.  I helped you move forward and saw you grow up into the two beautiful sisters you are now.  Continue to grow and to achieve your goals.  It’s because of you that I made it through the struggles of life at times.  I promise I will still guide you, even after I die.  Remember me and I will never leave you.

Kay.  The three letter name I’ll never forget.  The first person I ever cared for outside of my family.  You changed me as a person and you changed my goals in life.  We shared our dreams together and formed new ones as time went by.  What I hate the most is that these dreams are broken now.  Our dreams of a family and home in the forest are gone.  We’ll never grow old together.  You’ll probably find someone else who’ll put a ring around your finger and who’ll care for you for the rest of your life.  Whoever it may be is a lucky guy.  I hope you’re happy with him.  You deserve the best in life.  I’ll watch over you when I’m gone.  That’s not a dream I have, that’s a promise.

Gareth.  The last on my list, yet the one I can’t stop thinking about.  I don’t know what happened to you, but I want you to know I made it to the place where the beach started.  It took a whole week, but it doesn’t matter.  I did it because you never broke a promise even once.  I guess I fulfilled my part and I’m sure if you’re alive, you did too.  I’m sorry I’m so late.  I guess there were a few obstacles in the way.  But anyway, I bid you farewell.  Wherever you may be in this world, good luck.  Follow your dreams and continue to be the friend you always were.

And with that, I wish the world goodbye.  You’ve shown me wonders that few have seen.  It’s been a great time on this Earth, but everyone dies.  Some more heroically than others.  To me, it’s all about keeping promises and being true to yourself.  I said I’d make it and I did.  Go make goals for yourself and work toward them.  You never know when your day will come.  I thank you all.  Farewell.

 

Day 9

Let me finish this story.  Mack was a man of his word.  He pushed himself and others to do the best.  He saw everyone’s capabilities and showed them how to go further than them.  He showed everyone that even through hard times you can accomplish great things.  This final push up a beach with a blown off foot is an example of that.  He was dead and he knew it.  But even when all hope was gone, he pushed himself to do what he felt was right.  He showed what a strong spirit can do and he should be proud of himself.  He has died the most honorable death on this beach and will forever be praised by those who did survive.  His story will serve as a lesson for not just me, but for all who read it.  I hope he knows that he is the true hero.  I hope he knows his story will be passed on for years to come.  And finally, I hope he knows his legacy will not be forgotten.  He will not be forgotten.  He will live on forever in our hearts and we will remember every day of our lives.

My final words to you my friend are thank you for inspiring me to return to this place.  I was a day later than you, showing you really were the stronger and truer person.  Not only were you the better person, but you were my best friend.  I salute you.

 
Forever in my memory,

-Gareth

 


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