Whispers of Death

Private Timothy Thomas felt something hit him in the back, and everything became blurred. The sound seemed to be coming to him through one year, and even that ear seemed like someone had put a cork in it. Thomas felt his legs buckle, and his vision swirled as the soldier felt a falling sensation before landing on warm, black lava rocks, stomach first.

With a fifty pound backpack strapped to his back via harnesses, there was no way for him to get up. Thomas could hear the faint shouts of fellow soldiers, still fighting against the unseen enemy. Thomas struggled to focus his hearing a little better, but was impeded by his steel helmet, which now lay crooked on his beaten skull. Thomas struggled to look around, but found that he couldn't move. The harnesses and straps that kept his backpack and bandolier in place provided too much struggle for him to do anything. He tried moving his arms, only to be countered with white hot pain. Thomas winced, or tried to, and waited, face down the rocky floor, waiting for someone to come over…

Thomas felt the ground vibrate on his cheeks as more artillery and mortar shells burst nearby. His vision was still unclear, but he could make out blurry outlines and shapes of a soldier standing about ten yards away from where he lay, firing a bulky, crusty assault rifle. He watched as the soldier fired one or two shots, and then felt a pang of horror as the soldier's head cocked back, as if an invisible hand was forcing the neck to move. Red liquid spurted out through the helmet of the man, and the soldier, arms flailed outwards, sloppily kneeled on both knees before lifelessly falling backwards.

Pain began to come to Thomas in a bubbly sensation he had never felt before, and he began to think about his life. His countryside home in Pennsylvania, his mom and dad, his favorite food, his first football game in high school, his favorite sports team, his first car. The college he could've gone to. His wife and children. He thought of the best trip of his life: A ski trip to Switzerland with his family and friends. All the little bits of his life began to form in his mind, and Thomas felt a tear begin to welt up in his eyes.

The incapacitated soldier felt his energy drain, as if it was being dissolved into the air. He couldn't think anymore. As Thomas was losing consciousness, the last thing he saw were the boots of a medic running over to him. The medic knelt down over Thomas, and Thomas thought he felt his body being turned over, but he wasn't sure. Private Timothy Thomas thought he heard the medic say something, but wasn't sure.

"Chief, we got a wounded friendly here!"

Thomas heard a second pair of boots coming up behind him. He heard a gruff voice, belonging to the platoon sergeant of the company. His company.

"Think he'll make it?"

"No sir, he's too far gone."

The last thing Private Timothy Thomas heard was the rustling of the cloth around his collar. He felt a slight tug, and the jingling of thin pieces of metal…