Every labored breath draws in the raw frigid air that surrounds the grey scale wasteland I lay dying in.  It stings my blistered face, the rosiness of my cheeks melding with the parched blood. Through the hazy clouds of smoke and ash, I admire the star ridden sky while resting on the slope of a shell torn crater.  Up there, shimmering on God’s black canvas, is the constellation Hercules. There is a man who has gone to hell and back, dancing a duet with the line between life and death. We all cross the river Styx in the end, guided by the ferryman, but I fear my passing is only minutes away.  The only peace I find in this realization is the escape from a world gone mad. Drowning out the voices of reason are shells bombarding scared soil, the cries for peace ignored in the face of barked orders, the pleas for compassion met with crackling gunfire. But above all is the deafening silence, the indifference felt by so many.  It will haunt me in this life and the next, to see so many turn a blind eye, to act as if these crimes are for the greater good, there lies the true evil. Carried by the wind, I can hear the murmurs of entrenched soldiers, their tone soft and calm against the gruesome background they find themselves in. A dusting of snow begins baptizing the accursed ground, masking the sin that before was bare to the world.  A young soldier gently rises from a trench, bearing a white flag fixed to a bayonet, whistling a tune of serenity. The opposing trench slowly follows suit, and before long each side has arisen from the depths. The whistlings change to song as they cross the snow laden ground towards one another. I shut my eyes for the last time, and let their carols lull me to rest. Here on Christmas Day, 1914, two sides, locked in a battle started against their wills, put away their differences for one beautiful moment of humankindness and unity.  It may be a time of unparalleled destruction and hostility, but I can see that there is still hope for the world around me. With this knowledge, my lips curl into a calm smile, and I let the blackness sweep over, guiding me to sleep.

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