Anythingis better than this

Unbelievable cold numbs the spectacular pain enveloping me.

This is a good thing; one of the bullets has shattered my left hip and the very thought of moving makes me feel sick.

I can feel shards of bone scraping against each other, sharpened knives of ice tearing at the surrounding flesh with every laboured breath.

Like mirrors, my wanting eyes reflect the deterioration of mankind taking place above and around me.

So many helpless souls playing at war, not realising how closely death is shadowing their every move.

I have watched many good, brave men fall; 10ft tall and bullet-proof, until they're hit.

They think themselves to be superior, better, far too good for death, but then they're gone in a matter of moments, just like any other mortal, or are experiencing the full horror of true war, like I am.

The ground is littered with bodies, like autumn leaves.

I am lying almost in the earth, plastered in frozen mud, too cold to shiver. Razor wire coils next to my head and under my back, a snake of discomfort singing counterpoint to the other relentless pain.

The bullets scream with an intensity which sears my nerves, and deafens me.

All around me, men are yelling, giving orders, shouting encouragement, shrieking in plain terror, or agony.

I gaze upwards into the deep, vivid azure, a blanket of perpetual eternity stretching above me, like an expanse of never-ending ocean, and I try to block out the roar of conflict.

The realisation that an empty sky can be viewed in such perfect detail is incredible, but the pain, the unholy pain distracts me long before my train of thought can develop.

I try hard to disappear from the present for just a moment and eventually I prevail.

My thoughts wander to the bittersweet memories of joining the army and exulting.

Exulting in war, glorious war.

A journey, an adventure, I was told.

Now there is nothing but ashes where my hopes and dreams used to burn.

The terrifying certainty of death crushes me under its great weight and crowds me like claustrophobia, but with each passing moment its inevitability is becoming clearer.

The last warmth of my body is being stolen by the earth and my thoughts are becoming clouded and vague.

As the weak, watery sunlight emerges above the horizon, a last clarified thought flickers through my brain.

''Anything is better than this. Death is better than this.''


• By Kia Wales, Year 10, Dunstan High School


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