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Hi, I'm horror and science fiction author Steve Kozeniewski (pronounced: "causin' ooze key.") Welcome to my blog! You can also find me on Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads, and Amazon. You can e-mail me here, join my mailing list here, or request an e-autograph here. Free on this site you can listen to me recite one of my own short works, "The Thing Under the Bed."

Saturday, July 18, 2009

The Last War: Chapter 34

Doctor Phil Fraser hooked the last IV needle that he had to one of his patients. Hundreds more stretched out before him like an endless sea of injuries. Would Canada ever have gotten involved in The Last War if they had known how much human damage would have been taken? Fraser sure hoped not.

Here were his latest patients. They were all badly burned by American Flamethrower Squads. No doubt Canada had won that battle. What a victory. The Canadian people couldn't stand many more victories like this. Fraser found that victories were often more ruinous than defeats. At least when you were defeated you could run away and avoid injury. Not when you won, though.

"You're going to be all right," said the doctor to a badly hurt woman in his quiet, calm bedside manner, "You'll be just fine."

The sad truth was the woman would be dead in a couple of hours. An AS gun had just missed her heart. The rest of her was torn to bloody ribbons, though. Some artificial organs were hooked into her. Soon those artificial organs would be hooked into another badly wounded patient.

Fraser proceeded down the line of battle wounded. Here lie a man who had been mown down by a fighter's strafing run. Here lie an officer who had taken a grenade. Rows and rows of men and women had been lacerated by AS gun fire.

Here was a woman who had lost both her arms and both her legs. If she survived, she would be a wheelchair bound quadriplegic for the rest of her natural life.

Over here was a man who had been breathing in mustard gas. The gas was contraband because it was so painful, but that didn't stop less scrupulous soldiers from using it on occasions when their officers weren't looking. The man's skin was a livid yellow, covered with boils and blisters and festering sores. He groaned in agony from his outward wounds. Fraser shuddered at the thought that the same thing that had been done to this man's skin had also been done to his lungs and his throat when he had breathed it in. It would have been like swallowing acid or lye.

Here was a woman who'd been run over by a motorcycle. She didn't have a comical tread mark down her stomach like in a cartoon. Every bone in her chest had been crushed almost to a fine powder, and no doubt splintered bones and bits of bone were jabbing into her internal organs and being pushed further in with each breath she took.

Here lie the burn victims. Flamethrower Squads. Fraser shook his head at the horror of it. Suppose you doused yourself in kerosene, then lit a match and stood there, calmly letting the flames singe your flesh and lick your eyeballs. Then, slowly, you let the flames die down, never moving an inch. By the end you would have been roasted like a chicken on Boxing Day. These people had had it worse.

Here lie the battlefield diseases. The squalor in the trenches was too much for Fraser to even consider. Did other doctors have to deal with cholera, tuberculosis, diphtheria, malaria, rheumatic fever, STDs (yes, soldiers were sexually active), influenza, and however many other dozen diseases Fraser had thought had gone out with the Dark Ages?

If there was a terrible way to die, Fraser had seen it. If there was a crippling, life ruining disease or wound that could be inflicted, Fraser had seen it. Every man and woman, whether consciously or subconsciously, knows of a death which they consider so unspeakably horrible, they would never wish it on their worst enemies. Things so painful, so gut wrenchingly gruesome that to contemplate them is to be driven mad. These things, and many worse, Fraser had seen.

The worst part was that Fraser had stopped caring about it. He'd become desensitized to it.

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