The Soldier: Chapter One

He sensed each molecule before they struck.

Tap—tap—tap.

Seconds ahead of the plop and splash.

The elements intermingled and spoke. They sang and danced, an end to solitude, an embrace of intimacy. He sensed and saw, beyond and within as the two separate elements joined hands and combined to make something new.

His mind stretched beyond simple fantasies and imagination. It saw farther than sight. Witnessed greater than truth. Became because it was. And was because he became.

And yet, he couldn’t remember, couldn’t formulate the words to define the new forms falling on his head. An even stranger thought occurred. He couldn’t remember his own name. Only that it began with the letter D.

Or was it the number 13?

Regardless of the symbol, the name dangled beneath the roof of his subconscious. Letters and numbers. Singular representations of reality.

Drop.

Tap.

Plop.

Splash.

Any name for any thing.

The falling molecules— products of elemental coitus—fell in droves now. His skin prickled with the sensation of—of—of—what’s the absence of heat? He couldn’t remember. He knew it.

Didn’t he?

A screech shattered his thoughts as a monster, arranged from metallic elements, growled in his face. Its steamy breath was acrid and foul. Noxious fumes nothing more than the byproduct of combusted and broken down chemicals.

The monster barked in a voice that didn’t match its persona. He began to reach out, soothe the beast with a gentle touch—

“Get the fuck out of the—

Then he saw the man in its belly.

Leave no man behind.

An arrangement of symbols he remembered and understood. Flash of crisp, pressed suits. Green and Black and Kaki. Medals. Tattoos. Brimstone raining from the heavens.  Ratta Tat Tat. Blood. Guts. And Tears.

Another nonthreatening bark as the trapped soul punched and cursed from within the beast’s mouth.

Leave no man behind.

He leaped onto the monster’s metallic snout, stared into its wide eye, and roared back. The man inside froze.

A punch to its single eye thudded with no effect. The elements that made up the monster’s eye communicated through sensation. Sand. Nothing but an arrangement of sand.

He punched again but this time left his fist in the middle of the monster’s eye. Fist unclenched and palm flattened against the redefined elements. A web of splintering cracks formed. Push. The eye shattered into a million pieces.

The man inside screamed.

He reached in, grabbed the man, and pulled him out of the beast.

Waves of sound pulsated and pounded. Meaning? Relevance? It eluded him. The man he had saved ran—fleeing lest the monster ensnare him again.

Pitch heightened and became a piercing wail. Another monster. He hadn’t noticed before, but more beasts, with more victims, grumbled and waited in line behind the one he had just defeated.

Leave no man behind.

But his feet wouldn’t obey.  They remained planted to the cold wet pavement.

Shouldn’t it be sand?

And for that matter, where were his clothes?

Recollection.

“My n-name…

His consciousness formed a wall around the impending discovery. Mouth clamped shut. His brain reeled with an uncontrollable thud.

“Sir?”

Uniforms. Scowls. Holstered—holstered—he couldn’t formulate, but knew, remembered what they did. Guards of the Beast.

A blinding bolt lit his vision. An explosion cascaded and gave tune to the dance of a thousand sparks.

“Shit!”

“Grab the guy and let’s get back in the fucking car.”

Symbols to convey meaning in the form of spoken language. A necessity to communication and humanity. And yet, he still couldn’t decipher the code.

“My name…

Gloved hands slid around his slick skin and lifted.

Meaning? Name? Symbols.

“What’s my name?” He asked before blacking out.