Everything crackled from fire. We knew it was dangerous, but people wouldn’t listen to us. I often see them in dreams now. A black heap of them. Birds have pecked their faces, their hands. It’s better not to look at the faces. I think this might be the future, with lice and filth and the smell of blood. The sky throbs, the ground throbs. Even the trees are crippled. Horses, the clayey colors of earth, fall down dead. Wind stirs their manes.
Doctors in white coats attached electrodes to our heads and told us to sleep, but I couldn’t go back, I just couldn’t. I saw Orion the Hunter shivering above a mutilated landscape of abandoned shopping malls. Out-of- office messages appeared from cracks in the asphalt. Assault rifles, too. I went to the funerals. I went to the homes where they were sitting shiva. I went to the vigils. The scariest part was the silence. Then the silence erupted, and angels were flying about, and even the angels didn’t know what to do.
I had lost two fingers. They were completely gone. The crunching noise, I guess, was teeth scraping against my skull. Painkillers didn’t help. We were getting older, and it was hard work. People had stopped leaving their homes. Many were just skeletons. Floors overflowed with injured and blood. I couldn’t come up with an innocent explanation for this. Although still early, shopkeepers were pulling down the shutters of their shops. I stood there, trying to see in. A scruffy brown dog, come from who knows where, lay down on the sidewalk, just to feel the warmth from the sun.
Howie Good, 2018
The Unwomanly Face of War, by Svetlana Alexievich