An arrow swishes by my head. I instinctively duck to the other side and raise my shield. We didn’t cover this in basic training. The showers of arrows dart through the sky like black birds of death. I see many of my fellows instead of raising their shields to protect themselves, look upward to watch as their doom falls upon them. I nearly succumb to the urge myself, peering around my shield at them.
What is going on? Where am I?
Suddenly from across the hill, where the enemy lies in wait, a horn sounds. The arrows stop. All is silent for what seems like hours, but can’t possibly be. Then comes a stomping and grinding, a shriek of metal on metal. The men around me shiver in fear. I’m quaking in my army issued boots. Roars come over next. Savage and ruthless, like hunting beasts from hell.
What is happening? Why am I in the army? Why can’t I remember anything?
“Don’t despair!” calls our General. “We can defeat these monsters and leave this field victorious! These are scare tactics to make us surrender. But if we give up now there will be no mercy for us or our families. They will slaughter all of us and then feast on the bodies of our wives and children. We will defeat them here and not let them close to our homes! We will emerge victorious!”
Where is my home? What is a wife? What is a child?
His words didn’t stop most of the quaking but it did stop the doubts. We can defeat them, we must defeat them, or our loved ones will die. I ponder the effect this has on the men. Now that we know that there is no way to survive except to succeed, will we fight better?
Of course we will, why would I even wonder that? Was that even me?
Something feels off, but I ignore it. Probably just pre-battle jitters. The enemy’s forces appear over the hill and the people at the front take an instinctive step back in horror, trying to get away from the disgusting creatures advancing on us. They look more animal than human. Their skin is the color of blood, with twin horns sprouting from each of their heads. They have elongated arms, with three inch claws bursting from the knuckles, giant tusks, and matted, hairy bodies. The beasts at the top of the hill roar with eagerness for blood and rush to attack.
They seem familiar somehow.
I am in the middle of our forces, and thought I would have to wait to fight, but our line dissolves into chaos immediately. I hear a scream nearby and see a comrade fall to one of them, I smell his blood and resist the urge to be sick. I see one of the monsters in front of me and lunge to attack. Extending my lance in front of me to pierce it’s matted hide. It contemptuously swats my lance aside with a taloned paw and darts in snapping with its teeth, I am saved by the same blood that I nearly puked at earlier, instead of tumbling forward into the jaws of the beast, I slip on blood and land on my butt. I swear I didn’t do that. I’m not in control, someone else is. The beast lunges at me, eager to kill and add my blood to the mix. I scrabble backwards, my spear lost when I fell. I’m not going to make it. I’m going to die on this battlefield. I freeze stunned by the revelation. We are all going to die here. I stare death in the face and my only thought is a question. Did I say I love you to my parents before I left? I don’t think I did.
What are parents? Do I have those? Why can’t I remember? Does this mean that I’m not real, that the other person owns this body? I won’t accept that! Damn whoever controls this body, I just got started with life, I don’t even have a past that I know of, I’m too young to die!
Death freezes. A silver point emerging from it’s chest. I can’t do anything but stare. Light emanates from behind the beast, and a voice calls to me.
“Get up young man! The battle isn’t over yet!”
Death starts to fall forward again, and I roll out of the way and look to my savior. It is the General. Dashing forward alone on his huge battle horse killing another three of the monsters as I watch. I get to my feet and pick up my weapon stunned. In front of me stands a hero.
He’s good at this. I wonder who he is. I feel like I can do better than him though. All I need is control, and I will be able to prove myself. To prove that I should exist. This general won’t regret giving me a chance.
I watch him charge, screaming encouragement to the other soldiers. Something inside me responds to the sight. It might be awe, for the general on his charger is awesome indeed as he cuts a swath through the enemy troops. I feel my strength return as I watch him, and turn to find another foe. I may not be able to kill as many as he does, but I can make saving me worth his while. I can kill at least one of them before they get me.
I grin to myself, and feel the body grin with me. Let’s do this.