by The United Socialist States of Zloveshchiy. . 7 reads.

A Zloveshchiyan Short Story: Caught between the Crossroads

Shells rained from a distance. The echoes crying out amidst the smog and blood. The impact of their strikes damaging the land and further beyond.

The light flickered, dust and debris falling from the ceiling as the shockwaves refused to stop even for a moment. The constant reminder of the world that they lived in. Of the devil’s hand clawing down the last bits of normality in one's life.

Abandoned, alone, the line of defence long broken through. All that were left were the few stranglers who stood fighting despite their conditions only to be shot down.

Each day, each night, their screams echoed, their pain yelling out, begging for an ounce of mercy, and gunfire followed their cries.

The cycle repeats, and repeats, and repeats, and repeats-

Until there was nothing left to be heard.

Until there was only one left standing.

Until death surrounded him.

He stared at the helmet on his bloodied lap, at the scars that littered it. A single photograph attached to its side.

A photo of him and his family.

With shaking hands, he slid a finger over each of their faces. A tear longing to be let out, but no more were to be found. All dried up from the blaze of war.

The faces of everyone he knew, of his family, of his friends, all who he used to see, now gone like the wind. Left behind all for this slaughter, a deathbed made out of charred rock and grass.

Regrets swirled within, regrets that would never be healed.

Voices ringed out from the corners of his mind, voices that sounded familiar to him and yet not. Were they of his comrades, or were they of the enemy, as they echoed from everywhere and nowhere.

His time was near.

Glancing at the pistol at his side, he snatched it and looked with empty eyes, a magazine with only one bullet.

With swift, resigned motion, he loaded the gun, and then waited. His heart beating, pulsing, pulsating.

Seconds turned into minutes, minutes into hours, and hours into days. He waited, waited, waited, and nothing.

Nothing but the sound of his blood rushing through his veins. Of what should be hours instead felt like eternity.

Was it all a trick, an illusion of his own machinations, or was it the devil's words urging him to take actions not of his own. To continue what It had started.

Words he vehement denied.

Of all the horrors, the sorrow, the pain he witnessed, continuing it is naught what he wanted.

But what other choices had he got? In a world demanding life for a life, an eye for an eye, where the only reward is trauma and death, what other actions could there be?

His legs no longer function, his sight blurred, his body's only saving grace, was the adrenaline coursing through his vessels.

With this disgrace of a being, what other way is there but death and…

His gaze wandered to the pistol in his hands.

…Ridding one's self to escape hell.

His grip tightened. His bated breath hurried, his hand shaking at a fast rate.

Between the crossing road of the same choices, the same outcomes, with the only difference being denying one of killing, and the devil from receiving Its satisfaction.

Then there was one thing to choose. A definite answer.

Even now, the voices drew nearer. Closer to where he was. If he was to die, let it be at his own hands, and not at the hands of a boy.

His family, his friends, his comrades, all of whom he loved, he apologised to every one of them. For his mistakes, his foolishness, and regrets.

Despite the reality of them never hearing his last words. His last prayers. His last apology.

And so, he lifted the pistol from his lap, shaking all the way, to the cold tip poking under his chin.

Life flashed before his eyes, of all the wonders he lived through, of the times he spent with his loved ones, of his children who he would never see grow.

All of it was swept away at the drop of a hat. Pulled away from them through an endless tide, for the sake of this manifestation of hell brought about by the devil disguised as the government.

As the world slowed to a halt, as the enemy reached his destination, as he peered into eyes still holding a semblance of innocence, a singular thought remained at the forefront of his mind while the gun’s hammer clocked itself like the bell's toll, a single tear falling down a bloodied cheek.

What was even the point?