It was the last night of leave, which was always somewhat depressing. John
caught a glimpse of his reflection in a window. Although he’d shaved every
morning, he had let his hair grow out since he came home. He definitely needed
to see the barber before he saw the Sergeant-Major.
He looked up and realised that his wandering had brought him into a bad area.
Graffiti covered every surface, including other graffiti. Few windows were
intact, and boards covered many more. He noticed a bus stop up ahead, and
decided that it was a good time to head home.
He sat on the bus stop bench, trying to ignore the indescribable odours that
assaulted him. It was obvious that someone hadn’t bothered to look for a
washroom before taking care of business. It wasn’t the worst scent he’d ever
He heard a scream. Rational thought fled. He found himself reaching for a weapon
that he wasn’t carrying, looking around for the source of the scream. His heart
raced, his muscles tensed for flight or fight. Then, he saw her.
She was sitting on the bench, looking at him with calm black eyes. She was tiny
and pale. No, not pale. Pure white. Her skin, her clothes, all pure white.
Except for her hair and shoes, which were black as the grave, and her eyes,
which were even darker. Then, he noticed blood dripping from the roof of the
shelter. It landed on her, and she didn’t flinch. He would have said that she
didn’t notice it, except that she smiled with every drip.
John leapt to his feet. As he did, he felt strands of…something touching him.
He looked and saw a nearly skeletal figure, kneeling on the ceiling of the
shelter as if it was the floor. This creature was as white as the girl but
naked. Its eyes glowed, a counterpoint to the girl’s deep black orbs. John
jumped back out of the shelter and saw the bodies on top of it.
He gasped as he recognised some of the bodies. People he had seen die. People he
had killed. He realised that the girl, too, was one of the many casualties of
war. John heard another scream, and only barely recognised it as his own.
Someone was speaking to him, in the calm way you do with someone who could be
dangerous. He heard the soothing tone in the voice, then saw that a bus was
there. The driver was talking to him, asking if he was OK.
John looked at the bus stop. There were no bodies, no creature, no blood. Not
even a little girl. He boarded the bus to return to base and the promise of new
horrors to come.