His feet fell silently on the soft earth, wet leaves absorbing the sound. His lungs screamed with every breath and pain wracked his thin body.
They had wrung everything out of him; left him as empty as a shell washed up on the shore…soulless…forgotten…abandoned.
He was a frightened man! A desperate man! A hunted man! He had taken his chance, had seized the moment, and prayed. Then like some crazed nocturnal animal he had made a bolt for freedom.
Away from the room, the small…dark…dank…windowless room. Away, from the bombardment of questions, that pounded his head.
“Arthur, Arthur, can you hear me Arthur?”
“Arthur, open your eyes Arthur, look at me Arthur.”
“Just a small needle Arthur.”
“Arthur, keep still Arthur.”
“Arthur, leave the mask on.”
Voices, like machine gun fire, surrounding him, cornering him, but never delivering the final blow.
Not much we can do for him now, just tender loving care.”
“Japanese prisoner of war wasn’t he?”
“Yes, his daughter was telling me last night, somewhere in Burma I think, managed to escape though, and spent the last few months of the war surviving alone in the jungle.”
The light was failing fast, mist – hung heavy in the air. Dampness crept through his ragged clothes, chilling him to the bone. He shivered violently.
“Poor old soldier, he’s near demented.”
“Can someone go and get his daughter?”
Darkness wrapped itself around him, like a thick, cloak. Lost and disorientated he felt a raging torrent of panic. Every hair on his body bristled with fear.
He could feel his heart…thump…thump…thump…like a deep base drum, echoing, reverberating. The empty eyes of his lost soul stared wildly about him. They were everywhere!
He was as caught as a rabbit in a trap! Huge dark shapes loomed up out of the inky blackness; long arms reaching out from their twisted bodies. He cowered down like a wounded animal.
“Leave me be!” “Leave me be!” He cried out.
The shapes were silent. Sinking to his knees in despair, he wept.
“Leave… me… be…” His voice now merely a whisper.
Time stood still in suspended animation. Their came no shot, no sharp blade of steel and no release.
“Arthur, Arthur, it’s okay, hush Arthur, you’re in hospital.”
“Rest easy, Arthur.”
Slowly raising his head, he looked about him.
TREES! The shapes were just TREES! He laughed then. Hysterical, manic laughter, like that of a wailing banshee. Loud raucous laughter, that ebbed away to heart rendering sobs. His spirit broke. Reaching out with emaciated arms, his claw- like hands grasped for hope.
“Please… God…help…me…” a pitiful sound.
Her voice came to him then, softly, hauntingly; declaring her love for him, her faith in him, her need for him. Her sweet voice flowed through his veins. She was his life blood, his strength.
“Is that you my love? Is it really you…?
“Yes my love, be at peace now, I am here waiting…”
“Oh my love, I have missed you so. Where are you? Where are you? I cannot see you.”
“Believe, believe my darling.” Her gentle voice implored of him. “Believe and you will see me.”
Her beauty, a vision of loveliness appeared before him. Peace came upon his soul. He believed.
“I am coming my sweet, I am coming to you.”
He felt her gentle touch and her arms embraced him. He plunged into the mist and was lost.
Julia, with tears in her eyes, stroked the silver hair of the father she had loved so dearly. Years of torment, which had etched itself on his face, had disappeared, replaced by serenity. With an aching heart, she bent to kiss his cheek.
“Goodbye dad; give my love to mom, and dad, thank-you, thank-you for everything.”