Posted in Series, writing

Crepuscule

Hell to Pay, Chapter 3  (Warning: this is kinda graphic.)

The next night Teivel attempted to sleep.  His body was cold and achy as he tried to force his eyes closed, rolling about on the cramped, damp bed roll.  His mother, unable to sleep the same, held his head in her lap, while stroking his long, dark hair.  He stirred, and she tried to funnel water into his mouth.

The next morning Tievel felt himself being stripped down and wiped with a damp cloth.  There was a strange man there, talking to his mother.

“My son is sick, is there anything you can do?”

A warm, rough hand ran over his forehead.  He attempted to pull back from the oppressive feeling heat.  The man ran his hands down Teivel’s arm to the wound that was still wrapped in rags.  Teivel felt the cold air hit the now throbbing wound.  The man let out a small ‘hmm’ under his voice.

“This is more than a fever, I’m afraid.  This wound is infected.  It could be Sepsis.”

Sobbing came to his ears as his mother broke down, pleading with the man to do something. There was nothing he could do, he explained, that there was no way to carry out treatment in this place.  The sobbing continued.  His mother’s cold, soft hand latched on to his, unwilling to let go.  The voice of his father said that he would go and try to find someone who could help.

In his daze, time seemed to stop and go as it pleased.  Another man came by, a guard this time.  His mother once again pleaded for any sort of aid.  This time she was met with less sympathy.  Through his dry lips, he attempted to calm her, but his strength waned.  She grabbed for the tails of the guard’s jacket, pleading loudly.  She yelped as the man returned with a kick, and walked off.

The darkness came.  He felt the repetitive stroking of his hair by his mother’s dainty fingers.  His body was hot.  He let out a shiver.  He felt the wound on his arm continue to throb.  It felt as if it was burning him from inside out.  Clenching his fist, his knuckles returned with a dull pain that failed to distract him from the searing one.

The inside of his eyelids seemed to produce, from the darkness, a series of shapes and symbols that seemed alien to him.  The hallucinations came and went, but in Teivel’s mind he attempted to make sense of them.  The pain in his arm seemed to dissipate as he concentrated on the patterns that appeared to him one by one.

The darkness came once again.  It was moving; alive.  It seemed to be seeking him out.  His chest felt tight.  He became aware that the burning has moved into his other limbs, and his head pounded.  The darkness enclosed around him.  His eyelids were sealed shut; he tried to shrink away from the mass of shadow.  It invaded his being.  The breath disappeared from his body, and he gasped for air.

He shot awake.  He felt hands around his neck.  The grip seemed loose and insincere, and the hands shook.  It was a deed they could not properly finish.  He opened his eyes to come face to face with his mother, with tears in her eyes.  She reacted with a wide-eyed gaze, and the grip on his airway was relinquished.  He gasped, and the air entered his lungs once again.

“I’m sorry, Teivel.” She sobbed loudly.  “I couldn’t stand to see you suffer like this.”

Teivel sat up, stupefied.  His throat tingled, and he could feel his heart beating in his jugular.  His mother sobbed, repeating “I’m sorry, I’m sorry.”

He pushed the matted hair out of his face and sat up.  The strength seemed to have return to his body.  In the low light of the tent, he spotted the blood stain on his mother’s blouse.  Yes, she had been kicked by the guard.  Outside the tent, he could see the morning light starting to appear.  He attempted to stand up, but a hand held him back.

“Don’t go, I’m sorry.  I’m sorry.”  He pushed the hand away, and his mother slumped back into the bedroll. Teivel felt his pockets.

His knife was where he had left it.  Pulling it out, he examined the blade that was now browned and tarnished with his blood from before.  The cuts on his arm had ceased to bleed, and had faded to clean lines, completely obscuring the tattoo.  He looked up, spotting a uniformed man pacing through the tents.

Teivel was spotted.  “Hey, go back to your tent.  Food isn’t for another hour.”  A feeling of rage seemed to boil up within him upon seeing the neatly pressed uniform, in vast contrast to the clothes that he was wearing.  Teivel scanned for anyone else.  People still hadn’t stirred from their tents.  He grasped his knife tightly in his hand.  The gun hung loosely from the guard’s shoulder strap.  Teivel ran his fingers over the pentagram on his arm with his other hand.  He broke out into a sprint.

The guard jumped and attempted to react, but Teivel got to him before he could cock his Gewehr.  He was at least a head above Teivel, but was sluggish from the night patrol.  The knife slid into his stomach right below the kidney.  The guard fell to the ground, knocking the air out of him.  The knife was embedded in him still as he went down.  Teivel jumped down on him, and pulled it out, twisting the blade inside the wound.  The guard curled over in pain.

Teivel knelt on the guard’s chest and took the knife to his face.  The soft tissue gave little resistance, while the cheek bones and maxilla gave a dull thud against the short pocket knife blade.  The guard sputtered up blood as he gave his last breath.  Teivel’s arms were covered in blood.  He stood, and gave a swift kick to the guard’s abdomen as one last act of retribution.

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