The cotton plants that grew in the valley below danced in a gentle breeze. For a moment it was the most beautiful sight that the soldier had ever seen.
The breeze, as if foreseeing the bloodshed to come, dropped. The cotton plants, bereft of their joyful partner, became stilled. The heat of the noon day sun descended over the dusty valley once more, tucking itself up and around the soldier like a blanket pulled close on a winter’s night. Comforting then, oppressive now.
The heat shimmer blurred the lines of the opposing army giving them monstrous, unearthly forms who twisted and cavorted. A call to ready cascaded down the line. Repeated one after the other from a host of vicious, scarred faced sergeants, the crash of arms from the host following the command like a faithful lap dog.
Trumpets blared behind and horns answered from across the valley.
They started at a walk, then a trot and finally a charge, both sides clashing together amongst the cotton plants with a sound like thunder on a humid summer’s day.
Within that heaving, lethal grand ball of flesh and steel, he fought not with skill, but desperation.
Thrust, smash, kick, bite.
No longer human, more beast, striking out at any lump of meat that came before him.
Thrust, smash, kick, bite… thud.
He fell to his knees but no further, the haft of a spear that jutted from his chest keeping him there like a child’s doll on a stand.
The chaos of the melee moved on. Before him, one cotton plant still stood, the rest adding to the bloody mulch of the ground. The breeze, sensing the end, returned to set it dancing once more.
As his eyes closed, the soldier smiled. It was the most beautiful sight he’d ever seen.