Worse Fates


Outside the treatment room, ragged vets waited passively for their turn to dance on the table. They read  and re-read the waiting list, posted daily to see who was up for that morning, that afternoon; they placed their bets on who would and wouldn’t survive, making odds based on the pallor of skin, the current fever, the presence or absence of a cold, deathly stare. Each one dreamed of clean sheets and relief from service. They simultaneously prayed for and feared the knife. By process of time, each name came up to the top of the list and, in the final moments, each man begged for another day in the field; each pleaded for another chance to serve.


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