Ready. (written for a flash fiction competition on a theme of “Before the Gates”.)

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evacuation

“I’m not ready for this!” he yelled, as they rushed him through the field hospital. No one answered, just the syringe spraying its fountain of analgesic before plunging into his arm. They were taking off his leg for Christ’s sake! Strong hands held him down as he sank into darkness…

Light pervaded his eyes, as blinking, he re-emerged into consciousness. Panic surged. Grasping frantically joy erupted. It was there, solid flesh, without searing pain – the anesthetic? The strange thing was he was in his army fatigues and this was no hospital!

Before him stood monumental gates their scrolled iron work giving clear view. He watched as people thronged past. His side seemed strangely empty unbearably lonely, but within life thronged in happy abandon. He grasped at the iron work but a chain held it in place against him. He yelled to let him in, but they shook their heads smiling.

A familiar face wended through the throng.

“Dad!” Father smiled knowing his appearance heralded understanding. It hit Sam like a thunderbolt. Dad reached through the railing.

“It’s OK Sam, you’re not locked out forever, it’s just not your time yet.

“But… “

“It’s the anaesthetic, an allergic reaction, but they’re fighting for you. If they fail the gate will open. You’ll have your leg here,” he nodded down at the sound limb, no longer a shattered mess of blood and bone.”

“But what about Jan and the kids?”

“You’ll have to wait till they come…” The gate quivered, but he no longer wanted entry, he wanted Jan, to hold the boys in his arms, be there as they grew up…

Darkness enshrouded him once more, all faded to nothingness.

Harsh hospital lights invaded his eyes. The leg was no longer there. It didn’t matter, he told himself, it would be waiting. For now Jan and the boys were more important.

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