Every day is a struggle. A new day brings a new way for death to sneak up on me. He is waiting for the time to take me, a time for my body, mind and spirit to give up on the fight for survival. This place, this horrid place is slowly destroying me.
My hope to return home safely dwindles every day. Just as a candle flickers at the end of the wick, I can feel my life giving its last dance before the eternal end. And what saddens me most, is I am probably in the best condition, compared to the other prisoners who have been captured by the Japanese.
Everywhere I look is the same, everyone is the same. Each person has had their spirit shattered; it is visible in their depressed and hopeless faces. I was knocked unconscious, left with no memory of the day leading up to the incident of my capture. But I must wash my mind of these thoughts. I am all I have left, and even now, I am slowly losing myself in the depression of prisoner life. My mind grows weary, my world dark, and I am left to die slowly. But that can wait. A new day brings a new way of death to sneak up on me, tomorrow brings a great risk for more life.
The day has come. The day for life and death. The guns went off early in the morning, an alarm set by our captors. Three shots fired, the cracks rocked the bones and minds of every prisoner. I looked around. The weak, the frail, and the malnourished surround me, slowly wasting away to dust and nothingness.
My pride perked up and attacked my mind. How am I allowing myself to waste away and be spiritually shattered like my fellow prisoners? I walked outside. A brisk wind blew through, chilling the bones and freezing the blood. The guards lined us up, and walked through, checking the number which had been branded on our wrist. They spoke in their native language, and I could not help but wonder what they were saying.
I let my mind wander and the guard came in front of me. He waited for me to hold my hand out and show him my number, but my wandering mind was not paying attention to him. For a split second, my imagination carried me away from this hell, and I was free, lying on a beach, relaxing by the water. I was quickly brought back to reality with a large hit in the gut from the butt of his rifle. I coughed and spluttered, spitting a light tinge of red. He barked at me in what I found to be a barbaric language.
I stood and met his gaze. He screamed, prodding his rifle in the same spot he had just beaten. As much as my mind protested, my body acted with a spark from my fighting spirit. I hocked back, and spat a large wad of blood into his face. The last thing I remember is the butt of the rifle colliding with my face, breaking my nose. Blood clots exploded out of my face, pooling slightly at my feet. My mouth filled with liquid, and I felt the peaceful grasp of unconsciousness slowly taking me from reality.
I have reached the breaking point. The point where, my once strong pride had taken its last demoralising hit. I stand by the fence that kept us in this living hell.
The snow covered the deep green of the pine woods, and littered the entire grind with a blinding white. I shivered, and my fingers clutching the cold wire ached with a frosty bite. There was no smell here, and very little sound. The quiet forest intruded the brain. It was unnatural, I longed for noise. No animals scurried through the woods. It was a barren, snow filled void of a woodland. There was little hope there, or anywhere for that matter.
I can hear the guards talking; their voices began to rise in anger and frustration. Playing it smart, I walk away from the fence and begin plotting my escape. I sit down, and glance around the compact prisoner of war camp. I can’t afford to take anyone with me; I refuse to put anyone else’s fate in my hands. My mind was now made up, my decision final. Tonight I escape. Tonight I either gain life, or feel the cold of death grip me. The night will hide my path, and hide my body. The night is the only chance I have. Out of the darkness I will spring, to experience the light of life once more.
Night crept into the camp, and I readied myself. We were rallied, getting our numbers taken down for the last time of this day. The guard took my number and walked on to the next prisoner. I waited, patiently for a distraction. The man two down from me coughed in the guards face as he got his number checked. The guard grabbed him by the neck, and threw him towards the guards who were watching over the rest of us. They began to kick him viciously; his body was curled, taking each brutal kick with a dull, low thud. I stepped back, and slipped into the shadows, crouching over to the edge of the fence, where the shadows were darkest.
I was no less than ten meters from the fence, when a loud voice called out. Unsure whether I was found or not, I wasted no time finding out. I stood, took a step and began to run. More calls and shouts echoed around the camp, and the first shots were fired, dropping at my feet. I ran faster than I imagined I could, my malnourished body was surprisingly nimble. I reached the outside of the camp and kept running. The cracks of gunshots echoed, bullets tore passed me. I dove into the bushes, and planted myself against a tree, where I waited for the search to begin.
At least an hour passed by my count. I decided it was time to begin the walk. I hadn’t seen any searches go on yet. I stood up, spread my arms out and stretched my legs, breathing in the free air. And then, the crack. A gunshot in the distance fired and my body went numb and hot. I looked down at my chest, and saw a small hole. It steamed slightly in the cool of the night.
I tried to breathe in, but my breath caught, and instead of the cool, fresh air, my lungs were filled with a burning heat. The blood trickled down from my chest to my gut. I collapsed to my knees and looked up towards the sky. The clouds were beginning to reveal the moon to the night, and stars dotted the caliginous sky. I smiled at the freedom that I had gained. The moon’s light was fading; I fell, lying on my back, staring at the beauty of the night sky. A deep and dark sleep encompassed me. Peace washed over my mind and I lay, still smiling at the stars and moon of the sanguine sky.