Consciousness of Death By D.I. Jolly

I sequel story to The Camp by D.I. Jolly

Violence has a way of staining a soul. It doesn’t matter how you interacted with it, once it’s there, it’s there. And those who know can see it.

After leaving The Camp Michal managed to find his way back to his country, his family and his home. He didn’t hide what had happened, but never spoke about it in detail, and his family were more than thrilled to see him trying to live a normal life. But violence was never far away. After returning to school it was only two weeks before his parents were called to the headmaster’s office. The three main bullies of the school had been antagonising him since his return, trying to prove themselves against him. Rumours of where he’d been and what he’d done, had spread like wildfire. On that particular day, they surrounded him and started throwing more than words. After the third time, one of them had punched him, witnesses said there was a shift in the way Michal stood and he said simply.

“I will not let you do that again.”

The bullies laugh, moved forward and before anyone could comprehend what had happened Michal had all but killed all three boys. This was backed up by over a dozen videos of the incident. Which also showed him performing aftercare to one of the boys which eventually saved his life. Michal did not apologise, and was told to take more time to adjust before returning to school. Struggling to know what to do, his parents took him to visit his grandfather in a care home. From the moment they walked into the visitor’s lounge he noticed two women sitting in the corner watching him. Their conversation had abruptly stopped and they stared. Off in another corner a man also turned to focus on him. His grandfather, the man he was named after however, was overjoyed and wrapped his arms around him, kissed his cheeks and cried. They sat together for over an hour while his grandfather spoke at length about everything that he’d missed and how much he was missed. Until Michal excused himself, rose and went to the older man sitting alone. He sat down in front of him and for a minute they simply watched each other.

“You bring death with you, boy. I could see it the moment you arrived. You are too young to be a veteran though.”

“Is that what you are? Is that what they are?”

He gestured with his head towards the women.

“Yes. In the war. I was a forward scout turned snipper, I was… Successful. They, on the other hand, were nurses.”

Michal turned and looked at them for a moment.

“I wonder who has the most blood on their hands.”

After another long quiet minute, the man let his face turn grave.

“I believe, you do.”

“Four… hundred, and twenty-seven.”

“Did you know any of their names?”

“Sixteen.”

“You still know their names.”

Michal recognised that he wasn’t being asked a question so gestured towards the man in reply.

“Only 91 and 7 names. William, Robert, Morgan, Frank, George, Stacy and Rebecca.”

“In that order?”

“In that order.”

“Why do you say I bring death with me?”

“Because I can see him. Standing over your shoulder, like he used to stand over mine. Guiding your hands like he used to guide my bullets. Probably thinks it’s easier to stay near you, rather than go looking for souls himself. They can see him too, spent so long trying to ward him off I can’t imagine they appreciate you just bringing him in here like that.”

Michal lowered his head slightly and looked over his shoulder. Not sure if he was looking at the women or the lingering shadow they all saw.

“Does it get easier?”

“The burden? The knowledge of what you’ve done and what you know you can do?”

“No, the pretending.”

“With practise, but you’ll never fool yourself.”

Michal rose silently and went back to his family. Brushed off the whole thing as someone he’d once met and wanted to talk to, then spent the rest of the day pretending to smile. That night the old man died and in the morning, Michal returned to school.

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