In the Realms of Light and Darkness: eight letters from war: 3. Vanessa

3. VANESSA

We came upon the camp this morning. Blundered onto it, actually. Someone saw something that looked just out of place enough, a sort of trail. We followed it — these people follow trails like hounds follow the scent of a fox, like you and I follow the hounds — and lo and

behold, there we were, in a pool of bright light in the middle of rafts of shadow.

Bloody awful. Awful, awful and bloody. Everyfuckingwhere you turned. It’s as though this was a forest where only dead trees existed. But what has fallen here, that is not trees. It is children, mostly. The rest were wizened. They have been cut in halves, in quarters, into unrecognisable fragments which all the Queen’s horses and all the Queen’s men are helpless before. Wild animals have fed on that which these uncivilised animals — I will not lend dignity by calling them human — have butchered. A forest, did I say? It is an abattoir.

We buried those we could. A mass grave: There were far too many. Foster spoke the words over them, but the “soldiers” did not listen. They wailed. Only I, and the other officers, stood in stoic resignation and tried not to think of how little meaning Foster’s words — the church’s words, God’s words — had, to them.

Now, at last, it’s night. The darkness has overtaken most of the horror but as I sit here, writing this, I can still hear the keening. I can’t quiet them. These are their children, their relatives’ children, their grandparents. They are not mine — I would thank God for that but that seems mere selfish cruelty — and, even if they were mine, I would not be permitted the luxury of display. These “soldiers” are not at all like me, at all events. They’re just women and men who have been given uniforms and guns and told to fight. Bloody bastards don’t even know how to wear them or use them properly. I’m supposed to “command.” What an honor: the first woman to command a troop in these parts. Well, I issue my commands, and then I watch them slog through this terrain, like machines, not talking, not laughing, not even stopping to drink or piss or kill until I order them to. All they will do without my command is weep.

I’ve learnt a few of their words and can understand a little amid the cries. They talk of their ancestors. They wail prayers for their souls. I can’t tell if it’s the ancestors’ souls, or their

own, or their children’s.

I have no soul left, Roger. None at all. We have been scourging this territory for months now, years actually by my predecessors, and what have we to show for it. This. This  monstrosity. That Yank general, the one who said “War is Hell,” hadn’t any idea. War is the bowels of Hell, and we are all in shit up to our noses. We can’t smell, or see, anything else, and we are trapped in it. I will never escape this. How can I: Escape requires forgetting, or at least relegating the conscious to the unconscious for some periods of time. This is so embedded in my mind that it will endure even through the loss of every other memory, of every other experience I may ever have. I was not made for this. I am a woman: I was made to make life. When did I forget that? How did I.

I want to sleep, though I know I shall not. Even if the sounds did not keep me awake, my anger will. When I came here, I believed in the “right” of what we wanted to accomplish. And, much as I hate it, I still believe that it is right. Finding constant death and horror is not losing belief. It is finding stronger belief. Tomorrow we will leave this place, weakened by what we will remember but with resolve strengthened. We will find those who did this and we will execute them. One by one, or en masse. I shall take no pleasure in watching them die, but I will in giving the order. An eye for an eye. But, my God, how many eyes must be torn out until we are all blinded.

I wish I could weep. I wish words meant something. But I cannot, and they do not. Only blood does. Blood and death. I am immured by them. If I survive this, I will need the kind of solitude every other prisoner requires. Much as I have loved you, you cannot help me. Truly, I do not know why I write this, save that, perhaps, I will not go mad.

And still, there is crying! It will last, until morning and beyond. I think there is no sleep, no peace, anywhere in the world.

Vanessa

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One Response to “In the Realms of Light and Darkness: eight letters from war: 3. Vanessa”

  1. ボル表(アジア)上海で冠亚時計城の南京西路店で開かれている2009バーゼル鑑賞サロンでは、この中国の消費者に正式に推薦その年度腕時計の新しいデザイン。エルメススーパーコピー今 Says:

    [url=http://www.bestevance.com/rolex/king/index.htm]ボル表(アジア)上海で冠亚時計城の南京西路店で開かれている2009バーゼル鑑賞サロンでは、この中国の消費者に正式に推薦その年度腕時計の新しいデザイン。エルメススーパーコピー今回の露出計5つのシリーズは、2009年にリリースした新しい係デザインだけでなく、全シリーズの汽灯技術普及を続け、更に発揮2009年国際腕時計の設計風潮。[/url]

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