Hooded Figure

It is said by many that the fields of battle are a place of dead men. The things men have born witness too on the battlefield indelibely imprinted on their minds. At the height of the Human-Naki war, the tales of these horrors spread like wildfire. The credulous, already bolster by fighting aliens, found ever wilder things to believe. A favourite among survivors of battles was the Hooded man, whose only recognisable features are the hangmans noose that hangs about his neck. He is said to move through the aftermath of battles, moving from body to body until he finds those who are soon to die. There he will sit, in quite conversation, until the dying are finally dead. Often to the horror of those destined to survive, as they lie in the cold mud, their life hanging on by a thread as they listen to speach which drifts past at the absolute edge of their hearing.

The story is told as horror, perhaps as a warning to those who would take the the lives of others over things as ephemeral as ideals, but…

And I want you to understand, I've never told anyone this.

My best friend died in the Naki war. He hadn't wanted to fight, had been a pacifist all his life. But he was drafted, and his family still lived in the country he was fighting for, so he broke his ideals for them. He killed a great many, each one scratched onto his gun. Unlike the rest of us, it wasn't a symbol of pride for him, each and every night he'd pray for each and every Naki he had killed.

Well eventually our unit got into trouble, we walked into an ambush, barely got out. Both me and him were pulled out, along with another two seriously wounded. We spent the next week in a field hospital, on the edge of death. On the seventh night I woke up, knowing something was wrong. Thats when I saw him sitting on my friends bed, they were talking like there was nothing unusual, like robed men with nooses walk into hospitals every night of the week. I lay there, couldn't move, and eventually the figure left.

He was already dead by the time I managed to lift myself out of bed. Cold to the touch, everyone told me that he would have had to have died hours ago. That of course I must have been dreaming. But the tears on his face were still hot, and his smile calmer than I had ever seen. All these years later though, I might have been able to convince myself it was a dream, but for this. Its his gun, they couldn't take it off him when he was admitted, each scratch was a soul he needed to pray for.

No, I can't see any scratches either.

fic/hooded_figure.txt · Last modified: 2010/03/09 16:27 by gareth
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