Once you sign the contract, once you’ve kissed the King’s head, you’re in. One thousand years, they say, and you scratch your mark on the dotted line, eager for that drachma. One thousand years! No-one lives that long!
Not in the King’s Skulls they don’t!
I remember waking that first morning. Drab, olive-green walls surrounded me, my hang-over headache splitting. The tannoy screeched out a garbled reproduction of the call to arms. I woke into a nightmare. But still – one thousand years! The food was terrible. Dehydrated scraps, two hundred new recruits, all pushing the mess around their plates and trying to figure out the mess in their heads. I saw action, forty-three days into service. I remember the feel of atmosphere around my skin, the stomach-tearing terror of a combat drop, the bark of machine gun fire and the booming giant’s tread of mortars hammering the dirt.
I remember the sting and burn of the shrapnel tearing into my lungs, and the medic’s voice like a god’s, from on high.
“Young bodies heal quickly – we’ll soon have you back at the front.”
Another fragment of memory, another combat drop, orange flames licked at the night-black sky. Half-naked, subjugated women dancing. The cold taste of beer, the heat of her skin next to mine.
It’s nothing but the echo of a life, soon enough forgotten – so long as you choose to forget.
No-one lives for a thousand years.
Especially not in the King’s Skulls.
Written for the haunting image above, as well as for Chuck Wendig’s Random Song Challenge.
I also used a BeKindRewrite prompt: Choose to Forget.