A raspy voice muttered in Joseph’s ear. Joseph’s slumber gave way to a consciousness gripped with panic but a body that would not move.
The first thing in his field of vision was the elongated silhouette of a millipede crawling around in the lamp hanging above his head.
“I have always been with you. I know everything you know, and I’ve seen everything that you’ve seen and a millennia more.”
“Who are you?” Joseph asked in a choked whisper.
“My name is gone forever. Just like the empire, I served” the voice said with no trace of sorrow. “I think that’s something you must know a lot about.”
Joseph saw the legs of the millipede probing the outer edge of the lantern. The writhing extremities curled out from the shadow into the glowing light
“That scar on your forearm. You were one of the Third Reich's anointed soldiers?” The voice asked with a smug retort.
“The scar is a dead give away. The voice sighed, “Once a Hun always a Hun. I’m sure there are a few people here who want you dead. With any luck, this should be over relatively quickly for both of us.”
Over half of the millipede's long body was holding itself up over the edge of the precariously suspended light bulb. Its multitude of legs groping at the air as it felt its way over the side.
Joseph tried to call out but suffocated on the breath of his words.
“You are in hell Joseph. You are a vessel formed solely to inflict suffering on my soul.”
The millipede had spilled over to the outside was crawling its way down the slope of the light and directly over Joseph’s face.
“Forget about your fiance she's a red whore now.” The voice said sharply.
The monstrous insect was hanging from the edge of the light now, gradually more and more of its legs slipped from the edge, and hideous creature inched closer and closer its many legs reaching out from him.
“Your family’s farm is burned. Everything about you is gone.”
The blood orange insect was gripping the lightly swaying lantern by its last few legs.
Joseph let out a breathless scream as he watched the primordial terror falling into his open eye. He blinked, and it disappeared. He felt something on his shoulder, and his body jolted up.
A tall, thin-framed Leigonare holding a shovel was standing next to his bed. The brim of a cap obscured sunken dark eyes and pockmarked cheeks.
“We have a grave to dig,” he said nervously.
The inky night sky was giving way to the pink and purple hues colored in by the ascending sun. Joseph and his comrade were waist-deep in the grave and digging deeper. Every upturned layer of earth revealed writhing swarms of primordial creatures so hideous they had evolved to scurry away and seek refuge from the light of day in a sanctuary of dirt covered by stratospheres of rotting organic matter.
“These are the only things in the world you matter to now.” the slithering voice from his nightmare breathed in his ear.
Joseph stopped digging and shook his head. He looked down at his boot. The slimy tubular body of a worm wiggling in the soft dirt. Joseph drove the blade of his shovel down into its body. He lifted it from the soil and saw a moist streak of viscera on the metal.
“They will pick you clean, and I will move on just as I always have.” The voice teased. “Do you think if your eyes are open when it happens you’ll be able to see them crawling across your face looking for a place to burrow in your ripening flesh?”
“Shut up,” Joseph whispered through clenched teeth.
The trooper in the hole with Joseph glanced up at him, but Joseph ignored him and continued digging.
The little trench they were digging into the wet jungle floor was to dispose of the remains of a Polish legionnaire, the last son of a now extinct Nobel bloodline no one could remember the name of. The thick jungle air had quickly consumed the boy alive. No matter how much necrotic flesh was filleted from his living body the rot spread. The body was wrapped in canvass and doused in petrol. The heap burned away under the tricolor flag. Joseph absent-mindedly lit a cigarette while he and the other troopers watched the pyre.
"Seems fitting, doesn't it? This jungle is nothing but an incinerator for human refuse."
Joseph ignored the musing and took a long drag from his cigarette. His hand trembled with the effort.
“Don’t worry the worms are always ok with charred meat.”
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