The battle of Megiddo

A short story based on a being in a state of temporary fugue

“Where am I friend?”
The soldier stops and turns towards me. At first, he is afraid and then he smiles as he thinks he knows me. But he does not.
“Why, you are in Megiddo, of course. Surely you remember.”
Pulling his cloak tighter against his body, to protect himself from the cold wind that has come from nowhere, his smile fades and is replaced again by that look of fear.
“What’s your name?”
I do not reply as I cannot remember, and he takes a hesitant step closer.
This time with compassion in his voice he asks:
“Are you hurt?” “Can I help you?”
He reaches across to take my arm and instinctively I pull back.
With his hand still outstretched, he makes a final plea for me to follow him.
“Look, I only want to help. There has been enough death here. Come with me and share some bread, my camp is near.”
I look at him with a blank stare and shake my head, which immediately makes the dull ache, that lingers between my shoulder blades, turn into a sharper pain.

It’s enough to make me close my eyes and, when I reopen them, he is walking away from me, with his sandals kicking up little eddies of dust, that are picked up by the wind.
Turning, I look up a hill towards a pile of rocks and stones that use to be a city. Clearly, they had once been magnificent buildings, but now they sit like grey tomb stones, thrown down by a giant’s hand.
Feeling tired and alone I sit down on a nearby rock and bow my head.
Again, the pain between my shoulder blades makes me gasp and I try to twist my hand up behind my back, but I cannot reach the spot.
I look back down, and my gaze lingers on the desert ground in front of me. I see the impressions left by my own sandals in the soft sand and my eyes follow their path as it inevitably leads towards the ruins.
How did I get to this place called Megiddo?
As if guided by an unseen force, I stand and my feet begin to slowly retrace the path that I must have walked, at some time in the past.
The wind is strengthening and small grains of sand are lifted from the dry ground and sting my cheeks, forcing me to raise a hand to protect my eyes.

My hand is bloody.
I stop and stare and realise that the blood is old, which is almost a relief.
Examining the hand closely and then my arm, I can see no wound. Perhaps the blood is not mine.
The wind is even stronger and as I lean into it, I can smell death, but I am not afraid.
Looking ahead there is a broken shield and then another and, as if my eyes are suddenly opened, the ground in front of me is littered with the debris of a recent battle.
I feel that I should know this place call Megiddo
The pain in my back is easing and I wonder if it is just something that I must get use too.
Working my way slowly through the ruins, I can see the crown of the hill. Standing there is a lone figure, silhouetted darkly against a clear blue sky.
I do not have time to ponder this as my foot hits something, and, as I try to pull it back, one of my broken sandal straps becomes entangled on a piece of bright metal, protruding from the ground.
Bending down, I gently brush the sand away from the buried object. A handle of a sword emerges and, almost automatically my bloody hand curls around it. The fit is snug and familiar. The first familiar thing that I can remember.
I lift the sword high in the air and the sunlight flashes in brilliant bursts from the highly polished blade. There is an inscription on it, but I already know what it says.
The sword is mine, although I cannot remember how I lost it or how it became buried here
The pain in my back changes to a warm tingling sensation, that is not altogether unpleasant.
With the sword in my hand I feel comforted and I look back up the hill towards the lone figure, which had not moved.
“So, you are still alive’
The voice, which is coming from the silhouette, is hard and self assured. There is no warmth or comfort there.
I rest the point of my sword on the ground and lean on the hilt as I look up and try to see, but the sunlight is now flaring around the edges of the figure in front of me, and my eyes are temporarily blinded.
“Shall we finish this now?”
I have heard that voice before and there is a stirring at the back of my mind and I can feel anger rising in waves through my body.
The ache in my back has gone and is replaced by a heaviness.
“Are your friends still with you?”
“Friends? What friends.” I shout.
There is a dry laugh from across the divide and then the voice again, but this time it is tinged with a hint of frustrated anger.
“The friends that fell with you when I trimmed your wings.”
It happened almost instantly. I know who I am.

The sound of that voice releases my memory and images of our bitter war almost overwhelms me.
It is not the first time that I have been cast down. Our legions have fought before and I know that they will fight again and I know that the time for revenge will come, but not now. Not today.
There are other battles to fight first.
I lift my sword and swing it onto my shoulder and it fits snugly into the hollow of my regenerated wings.

Flaunting them at my old adversary, I turn to walk back down the hill, towards the unsuspecting camp, where there is more work to be done. More souls to gather for my army.
Smiling to myself, I call back:
“I know you Michael and I am the Dragon that you did not defeat at Mount Hebron and you have not defeated me here. We shall finish this when I am ready, at the end of days, and we will meet again at this place, but then we will not call it Megiddo, but Armageddon”.

1088 words
Mike Wall – 17/01/2019

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