Flash Fiction: Time to Die

I’m dying, or at least it feels like I am. I’m an old soldier, surrounded by the screams and shouts of battle, the chatter of weaponry spitting death, the thuds of bodies to the muddy soils of this forsaken planet. I feel my life ebbing, and what I can see is at the end of a long tunnel, the light clearing my vision as I reach it. There’s an oddly melodic hum in my ears.

I see a child, a mere hatchling, I recognize myself at the age of five cycles. I’m playing by myself in the communal nursery, away from my littermates, alone in the world, just after finding out about the death of my father. I see myself resolving to follow in his footsteps to be a soldier as he was. There’s a look of determination in my young eyes, then the moment passes. I spy a human girl out of the corner of my eye, putting a finger to her lip to shush me. She vanishes when I turn to look at her.

Time goes on.

I now see an adolescent, myself nearing adulthood. I’ve just gotten a military scholarship at the academy when I receive news of my nest-mother’s death. I resolve yet again, this time to go on ahead on my own. I’m finally released from duty to my parents. My mother has passed into the realm of the dead, ending one era and beginning another. I mean to honor my parents in death as well as life. I earn my commission, and fight as sub-captain against the humans in a major border dispute. I earn glory in battle, gaining the captainship. Just outside my field of vision, there is that girl again. I vaguely remember her from long ago, but dismiss the vision as the result of sleepless nights studying and training.

Time goes on.

I see myself in my later years, a couple of decades prior to now, Gaining an outpost assignment as a brigadier on a far world of the galactic fringe. I fight the mighty Broogh, only with great loss stemming the Flow across the rim of the galaxy from this access point, and saving my civilization’s people in the process. Another moment of joy complete as I survey the survivors of the battle and order the treatment of the wounded. There’s that girl again, just like before. I begin to think I’m going mad, but again dismiss the idea.

Time goes on.

I’m back, still lying in sticky, blue-tinged mud, bleeding to death, now a field marshal, and finally, fatally wounded. My hearing fills with the sounds of the dying and I try to speak, but feel a finger to my lips, seeing the face of that same young human girl, her arms cradling my head as I die, her voice, that hum again, comforting me as the light dims.

My last thoughts:

I know of her.

I know this girl.

The Tempest.

The Herald of Sarusammog.

Time’s up.

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