I remember it, just as if it had happened yesterday. On the day that you die, your large collection of friends, family and acquaintances will gather âround your body and sing their praises of you. They will all speak of the great things that youâve did and ignore your ever lessening lapses in judgment. The night you got hammered from a barrel of ale and were thrown out the pub for beinâ an obnoxious ass will become the night that you outdrank everyone of your friends in a river of glory. Yeah, when you die people will mourn, for they will all be just a little bit less of a person without you in their life. They will weep. They will shed tears. But on the day that I died, when I finally died, I heard God smiled a little.
The Mexicans were still fightinâ us for the right to Texas and I had just come in from the City of Nod in the east.
I was tired and honestly hadnât slept in days. The rotten barabicu-like stench of dead Nephilim warriors still charred across the sleeves of my brown duster came up to pester my nose every time the wind blew in the open air. I had been riding for a few days now, possibly weeks. Miles and miles of desert and dry grass. The dark blue night sky had painted the sand a smoky grey and the malnourished trees a dark obsidian. If it wasnât for those occasional trees, I wouldâve sworn time itself had stopped and the world had grown cold. Though it cost an extra effort, I made sure to travel closer every time I saw one– just to see it, to know that there was still life out here, however feeble. I would look up at the emaciated wooden fingers scratching at the dark blanket of sky above with a weak trembling shake. Iâd look for the leaves which still held on, literally, for dear life, tossed and battered by the cold dry winds of the dessert. I watched with amazement and anxiousness, as if the leaves somehow, in some cosmic way, were linked to my very life. That had they been blown away, so would my essence be torn from me. It was a game Iâd play. Partly out of superstition, partly out of boredom. Like walking over a wooden floor, avoidinâ them cracks so as not to break my good mommaâs back. Iâd watch the leaf hang on. Iâd root for it. Whispering words like, âYou can do it.â Or âJust a little longer.â When Iâd finally pass it, and my head could no longer tilt any farther back, Iâd smile. The leaf had made it. I had made it. I wouldnât look back, for fear of seeinâ that little leaf release and be swallowed up by the grey. No, I just kept right on goinâ. On to the next leaf.
Olâ Slippy, my new horse, given to me as a gift for my intervention in Nod by one of the captains, was already beginning to tire. Slippy was huffing and wheezing with every gallop. Clop. Huff. Clop. Wheeze. I know what youâre thinkinâ. Thatâs pretty much what youâd expect out of a horse by the name of Olâ Slippy. But Slippy was said to be able to ride to Hell and backâŚ literally.
She doesnât do it. She collapses. Fate never did like me all that muchâŚ âleast so Iâd heard. I got down off of her, my joints aching and popping with every movement. The inside of my boots chaffed my legs, my socks the only thing nearby which still contained moisture. I cracked my back with a quick twist of the waist. I breathed in deeply and felt fire fill my lungs, exhaling in a furious cough. I shook it off. I looked down at my not-so-trusty steed. She was just layinâ there catching some not-so-well-earned zâs. âTo Hell and backâ my ass.
âHey!â I tapped her side with the tip of my boot. âWake your ass up.â She shook the zâs away coming back to reality. I wrapped my arms around her thick neck, holding tightly to her mane which felt softer than any animal pelt I had ever felt, âcept for them African wildcats. No. It was softer than them too. With a tight grip I pulled her to her feet. Now, I remember pain. An excruciating pain. Iâm not sure– Oh! Thatâs right. I had been shot. Or stabbed? I think it was shot. It was toward the end of the battle. I took a bullet right in the side. Thank the good Lord above that He saw fit to keep that bullet in, âcause it seemed to me that without it Iâd be bleedinâ about like a stuck boar. Not like it mattered. Because thatâs when them white spots came, dancing all around me like a choir of fairies. My legs went cold and someone swept them out from under me. No. Not someone. It was just me. I had fell. I could see the lights up ahead in the distance. Weâre in town. I had hoped I could have passed it before succumbing to my generous gift from war. Now I heard it. Hooves galloping on the harsh dirt. It wasnât Olâ Slippy, she wasnât in any mood to trod, much less gallop. No, they were coming. Not to hurt me, or even to kill me. Hell, if theyâdâa wanted to do that, all they had to do was let me be. No, this was worse. They were coming to help. Self-righteous bastards.
As I stared up at the sky from my makeshift bed of smoky grey dust, I finally notice the wooden post with a long wooden board nailed to the top welcoming us, with engraved words, to the town: âWelcome to New Jerusalem.â New JerusalemâŚ what a crock of shit. Just a couple steps back and I wouldâa been outside of town. Two steps. Two clops. One huff. One wheeze.
Iâd heard Fate disliked me, but I didnât know the bitch hated me. Well, serves me right I suppose. The gallops come to a halt and two– no three men– jump down. And all I can think as my eyes begin to close, fading the brown wooden sign to black, is fuck.