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In the Veins
By Gareth J. Letheby

 


In The Veins

By Gareth J. Letheby

A foolish promise, and a vain lie…

The valley was grey, slimy, and a putrid reek lay over it. Its surface was criss-crossed by sickly black veins. Like the Things.

A man picked his way along one of the black veins, trying not to tread on any of the Things. They were everywhere, grey and slimy, formless red blotches and stumps. He tried not to look at them, but there were more falling around him and on top of him. The Others said that you would get used to the smell after a day or two, but the man had been there for three days at least; the smell and the Things now haunted his dreams. He could not breathe without smelling the Things, and when he did the breath would gag in his throat, and make him suck in more of it. Either that or he would vomit on the Things. He couldn't bear to do it, but sometimes he had no choice. The Things didn't respond if he did. They just lay there and took it.

The man came back to the Others, and lay down in a festering boil on the face of the valley, and watched the rats. They crawled in their hundreds and their thousands among the Things. The man supposed they lived off the Things. Sometimes the rats would try to eat him as well, for he was little better off than one of the Things. Their bites would bleed, and then fade to black. Like the Things. Then the man would throw the rat that bit him, and it would squelch among the Things, looking for easier pickings.

At times, when it was quiet and dark, the man would go walking outside the stinking veins. There were even more of the Things out there. Most of them lay still, but some would claw pitifully at his feet, moaning in tortured voices. There was always screaming, shrieks in his own tongue and others; strange and deranged. When one screamed at him, he would sometimes stamp on it to put it from misery; to make it quiet. Sometimes they called to him by name, and that was worst, as he felt for a moment that he almost knew them.

He didn't know why he was here; he couldn't remember what lies, promises or deceit had made him come to this pestilential place. He wanted to leave, to see home again, but he didn't even have the will anymore to wonder when. The Things seemed be sucking his sense of self out of his body day by day, and daily he became more like the Things. `Never,' the Others murmured, `We will never get out'. Some shrieked it in the quiet of the night, when the roaring noise and shuddering mud had stopped. Soon there was so much mud that he could no longer see his disgusting skin, and he was glad for the first time. He could not see the blackened limbs, the sickly yellowing sallow skin and nails that had become his own. The Others said that the food would come soon, but the words were empty nothings. Like the Things.

Mad. The Things were slowly driving the man mad. He knew it; every time he gazed at them he knew it. He must be like them, he could feel it, but the Others hardly glanced at him anymore. To them he was just one of the Things now, or almost one. The stench would grow day after day, and hang on his clothes, until it started to come from him too. But his day would come. Soon it would come. Then he could go. Go home. Away from the Things, Things that tormented him every waking moment.

His day did come. The Others woke him and told him, but they didn't seem to understand why he smiled. For smile he did. The man didn't understand why they didn't smile, but they didn't. It didn't matter. The man crawled out of the vein that had been his home, but he did not do what he had come to do. He lay dead. Dead in the trenches with the countless other Things, and he was one of them himself. Forgotten. Now all that remains is a marble marker in a cold chamber far from home. “Here lies the tomb of an unknown soldier.”

Gareth Letheby 12S3

 

The preceeding was a work of fiction. Any statements regarding any person, place, or other entity (real or imaginary) is the sole responibility of the author of this work of fiction. Fan Works Inc. takes no responsibility for the content of user submitted stories. All stories based on real people are works of fiction and do not necessarily reflect on the nature of the individuals featured. All stories based on other copyrighted works are written with authors knowing that these works violate copyright laws.

Please see the Terms of Service for more information.

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