On The Heels of War
Spruill was lying lifeless on a marble table. His comrades were standing around him. Holes in his chest were spewing blood but he felt no pain. Maybe it was the adrenaline rush from murdering in cold blood or the satisfaction with his heroic service in the war but he felt nothing. He felt nothing but pride for he was going to be remembered as a hero. He had killed as many enemies as he could. His comrades had tears in their eyes. Even as death entered his body, he did not acknowledge sentiments, all he wanted was sleep. After all he had done, he had deserved it. Slowly, his eyelids dropped, his mind sank into the arms of Hades, he was falling into a peaceful sleep. The most satisfying he had had since he left his mother’s arms.
When Spruill woke up, the pain had gone away but his arms no longer moved with the same strength. He tried kicking but his kicks had no power. Then, it hit him; this was not his body, he was in a child’s body. He could not fathom what had happened. He could have sworn his eyes shut for a moment only. How could he become trapped in a newborn’s body this fast? The first month went by awe and denial but gradually he came to terms with his new body. He realized he could have a splendid life in this new body. He was the firstborn to his new parents. They were wonderful people, loved him more than his previous parents ever did. He was happy about the prospect of spending this life as a genius. He had all the intelligence and the skills of a grown man. He could achieve things he could never have dreamed of. The only thing that bothered him was his weak stature. It frustrated him to have to wait for years to grow some strength. His mind was used to his sturdy soldier body so it could never get used to his weak new build.
Each pang of hunger frustrated him out of his boots because hunger was something he had defeated all his life. He could go on for as much as three days without food but now, just a few hungry hours were enough to make him cry. Luckily, his new parents were rich enough to feed him properly. So, he was fed well, he ate a lot better than he ever had in his old body. And thus he reached the age of four before he knew it, four years spent in luxuries he could never have imagined.
Just when he was about to start school, it happened; his father got killed in a road accident. Though the news was devastating, he was used to losing people dear to him. His mind had enough strength to cope with the death of his father but his mother’s did not. She was devastated by this untimely departure of her loved husband. She stopped taking her meals. Spruill tried persuading her into eating food but he never succeeded. During this persuasion, he tried his best not to speak any words that would be too smart for a 5-year-old. He did not want to spook his already depressed mother. He tried all he could to cheer her up, but all went to dust when he saw her corpse hanging from the ceiling in her room one day. He had gone there to tell her that they needed to buy some milk.
Unlike his father’s death, the death of his mother caught him off guard. He had never seen his mother in his old life. He had yearned for motherly love back. This new body had blessed him with a kind mother whose love he had cherished, love which was stripped away yet again.
After both bread earners of the family had died, there was no one to pay the bank. Thus within a month of his mother’s death, the bank confiscated their house with the promise that they will assure Spruill is taken to an orphanage. However, there was no space in any, all the orphanages were full. The recent war had left the country full of war orphans. The same war in which Spruill had killed hundreds of soldiers, killings he was proud of but little did he know those killings would come around to haunt him in such a painful way. The bank got rid of him by leaving him outside an orphanage. Of course, the guards didn’t let him into an orphanage that was already hosting kids more than it could.
He sat all alone on a bench, at midnight, in pouring rain, his first night without a roof as an orphan, wondering what he had done to deserve this. He could feel the hunger pangs stabbing his abdomen. And then it hit him, this new life was no blessing but punishment for his merciless killings. It was the curse of all those orphans he had made. He was never a religious person, but even he could tell that this was the afterlife. Afterlife wasn’t some other dimension; it was right there, the world everyone lived in. For some it was hell, for others it was paradise. And Spruill knew a lot more was coming for him in this hell.