The fatigue was real. It was a tired-beyond-tired feeling, the sensation that energy had been wholesale removed from my body and was failing to replenish. The joints of my bones creaked against one another; all elasticity turned to a granite-on-granite grind. Muscles sagged in wads of unresponsive flesh, adding a dragging dead weight that threatened to pin me to the ground.

The mental exhaustion was no better. A pillar of white fire stabbed down through the top of my skull and replaced all thought with a numb and blinding haze. My closed eyes had refused to open for hours, yet I could not sleep. Consciousness refused to leave me, as though I was being punished for some terrible and unknowable crime.

I could hear Jensen crying, moaning something about his legs. He’d been dead for seven years now, taken by the plague on the outskirts of a nameless town in the middle of the desert. Toren paid me a visit, shaking my shoulders and shouting at me to get up, exactly as he’d done when we were shelled in the battle for Ky’ren. Toren had fallen to a sniper’s bullet as we’d fled our foxholes, a bullet that had passed through his head and taken a fist-sized chunk of my abdomen as well.

I was alone, alone with my ghosts and my fatigue, and the fatigue was real.

2014.08.25 – 2023.04.22

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