Death's Calling

Contributor: Hollis Whitlock

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An old man is sitting next to a fire, with a cup of steaming tea, staring into the blue eyes of a young woman. Her gaze entrances him in streaming tears for an hour, reminiscing on romantic strolls, warm nights and lustful passion, but winter's chill is whistling in gusts of crystallized white and blackening the smoldering red embers into wafting clouds of gray smoke. Even the tea has cooled to a distasteful bitterness.

He treks along a path, across a field, through knee deep snow toward a pile of wood stacked next to a fence. Exhaling vapor fogs through frosty swirls of blinding white in the darkening dusk of grayness.

Memory guides to the entrance of a vacant stable where cavalry once flourished. The haunting war ingrained in the subconscious, shifts subtly between dimensions in an overlapping transformation of vivid apparitions.

The shelter becomes an outpost upon the onslaught of invasion. Cleared pathways resemble a maze of trenches. Fortified fences of barbed wire suffice as barriers from charging soldiers. Rumbling vibrations from above spew a haze of exhaust, darker than the blackening skyline, toward the woodland meadow by the lake.

Imagery of gliding sensually on the ice above the frigid waters, with love in arm evokes mournful regret. Shattering thin ice plunges dreams into a dark icy abyss. Terror searches frantically for enchanted blue eyes, but a thunderous crash resonating from the forest's glen awakens the old man to the plight of another.

In a tearful rush, the removal of a glove, to turn a key, pierces painfully into numbing fingertips. Club like boots sweep soft powder from around the base of the entrance. Creaking heaves, on the rusted hinges of the door, reveal a vehicle. The bucket can hold seven days of fuel. Usually, forethought makes four trips. Today, there can only be one.

The glow plug counts from ten to one like the final gasps for air between the thin layer of ice and water. An axe, flashlight and medical kit, lying in the passenger seat, reminds of the failed rescue. Sputtering and wheezing becomes a rumbling cough, leaving the faint hope of salvation. Smoke rises from afar through the thick haze, above the barren trees that gleam with crystallized ice.

A familiar voice seems to be calling, through the internal storm, in a tone so familiar that further hallucinations of love form ghostly pale images in the falling sky. The stark whiteness drained of life looks helpless, as tears peer from above with no means to aid. Desperation cries into the forest's echo, hoping help is listening, but only a bluster replies.

The need to redeem the failure inspired years of medical training in an institution where retribution remained studious to the practice of medicine. Waiting in depression after graduation for the opportunity to make amends finally happened during the global intrusion.

Stationed at an outpost, working methodically through all hours of the day and night, earned numerous medallions for heroic bravery in battle, but none of this mended the heart that bled from within. The wound would not coagulate and continued to linger long after the loss.

Each waking hour, torment reenacted the event, hoping a miracle would resuscitate the motionless face of love. Gratitude and thanks were in abundance from the mortals who lingered in the spirit world for days on end before becoming animate.

Now lost in an enveloping camouflage, magnetic guidance directs through the darkening blizzard along plowed pathways to the vanishing plea for help. Two beams illuminate the dire circumstances of the catastrophe, as dark ashes speckle drifting streams of crystals in a fluorescent spotlight of the sun's fading light.

The pathway ends in a jolting halt, transgressing morals to the strife of a life at war. Trapped in a standoff behind enemy lines, the bucket methodically digs a trench closer to redemption, until a marching line of hedging stands fortified like a frozen barrier without conscience or remorse.

Surrounded in a whirlwind of blackening white, determination steps from the comforts of the enclosure, into an oncoming squall of hail. With blade on shoulder and red cross in hand, a yellow beam reflects a halo of hope for the helpless waiting to parish in the barren wastelands.

Trudging onward into the forth dimension, via mental regression to a day more vivid than the present, brings sight in the blinding darkness of the night's storm. Guided by the vision of saving another, self-sacrifice strives onward through the onslaught of nature's cruelty believing that atonement will rectify the previous failure.

Engrossed in the hallucination of a time prior to the present, objects in the current space become unseen barriers that entangle in sharp tearing punctures. The reality of pain warps the timeframe to a latter date of war. Fighting for redemption, hoping that life still lingers in the fading cries for help, slashing blows cut the barbs that bind.

In the distance surrounding the lake, beauty lies on a pond of melting ice entrapped in a circle of flames. Invigorated with a youthful insurgence, from an adrenaline rush evoked by the sight of love lingering between life and death, perseverance surges toward the hallucination determined to change the past.

With tears dripping from the tips of branches, beside the warmth of the smoldering wreckage, the old man walks cautiously onto the slippery surface toward the young woman who is sprawled partially above and beneath the ice. Blood leaks in a fine stream from a laceration on the forehead to a crimson pool, swirling gracefully along a thin fracture in the ice toward salvation.

A murmur of consciousness rustles from red lips in an inaudible indication of delirium induced from the chilling of icy waters, wretched winds and ghostly shadows of barren branches twisting in firelight. Without concern or fear of plunging into the abyss, anguish glides gracefully along the luring trail of life giving fluid to the bare palms of a love so intense that all fear for self-being vanishes into the surrounding flames.

Time regresses to the day of remorse when love was taken to another realm. Blue eyes peer upward, with a feverish sweat of running rouge droplets, pleading for life. The old man kneels before the young woman and clasps both hands in prayer, begging for the chance to resurrect love. Years of devotion to the craft of healing grant his life long wish and resuscitate life. The old man finds peace and lies down to rest.

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Hollis Whitlock is an insane writer, hoping to one day live out his idiotic thoughts.
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