I wandered around town, like a lost puppy, asking myself the same question, over and over.  Where am I?  No one stops to talk to me.  No one wants to be associated with me.  I’m alone.  I’m alone in a world of dying victims.  Of war.  Of starvation.  I can’t breathe; it’s as if my lungs are filled with honey instead of air.  My stomach is so empty, you would hear it if someone dropped a stone inside.  My mouth opens to cry out, but no sound comes.  Lost words.  My throat feels like sandpaper.  I feel as if I will never be able to speak again.  Begging for a scrap of food, I reach out to a woman in her mid-thirties with a child tugging at her skirt.  She takes pity on me and passes me a slice of bread.  It’s still warm.  I thank her.  I swallow a bit of the bread, hard, tears springing to my eyes as it drops like a stone into the pit of my stomach.  The bread tastes so good; it’s the first food I’ve had in weeks.  This show of kindness is unexpected, in such a cruel world, nearly illegal.  I quickly shove the rest in my mouth, just as the soldiers come.  One of them is holding a kitten, no older than four weeks, by the nape of its neck.  It’s mewing spastically, struggling frantically as it tries to escape the man’s grasp.   I rush over to it.  I know its fate.  Crying, I beg the man to release the cat, but to no avail.  The other grabs me fiercely by my hair and forces me to watch as his friend drowns the kitten.  The kitten mews softly.  Its eyes grab mine and hold my gaze in it’s own terrified one, begging me to help it.  Impulsively, I reach out and grab the kitten, knowing that my fate would be much worse than its.  I couldn’t just stand aside and watch it being killed.  Moments later,  I feel a sharp burning sensation on the back of my head, before realising a soldier had hit me with the hilt of his sword.

I smell a damp smell.  Feebly, I try to open my eyes, but they’re so filled with dirt and grime it’ll take water to open them.  I can’t see anything, but I know it’s dark.  Scuttling noises invade on my ears.  Rats.  Someone helps me up roughly and rubs my eyes gently with a lotion I can’t determine.  Miraculously, my sight returns.  I glance around furtively.  A graveyard.  The graves were cracked, the ground blackened by an explosion.  Rats scurried from behind the gravestones.  I stare in horror at my captor.  A body made of bones.  A skeleton.  I shiver and the image in front of me flickers, becoming a beautiful meadow.  I’m released, sending me sprawling to the ground.  I almost laugh.  The scenery is so picturesque.  I run towards it, falling short each time.  The meadow seems to get further and further away, until I finally realise that it is a hallucination.  My punishment, I think.  For trying to contradict one of the laws, I would eternally run into a meadow I can never reach.  I close my eyes and think, it could have been worse.  My nostrils are filled with the sweet smell.  I reached the meadow.  That is when I realise I’m dead.  Questions fill my mind, but only one is heard aloud: how long have I been here?

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