‘Ocean Duty’ by Nickolas Urpí

sc june 18

“What are you doing?” I said to myself, passing through the desert, the sands trailing at my feet. The wind blew the hot sand all over my body. “Your armor is useless here—what will you fight against? The sun?”

I abandoned my armor there. It was hot to the touch, and I burned myself just removing that which was meant to protect me. I kept my helmet, despite it having been made of the same material. It, at the least, leaned over and covered my neck. My under-armor, too, I abandoned. I needed it no longer. My scarf I left, however, to protect my neck further.

I debated whether or not I should keep my sword. It was a gift from my father, and an object of that intimate sort should never be discarded with ease. Hence, I carried it further, but ultimately left it to the sun and sand. I turned around immediately, perhaps with a sense of regret for irreverence, but it was too late, the sun and sand had swallowed it up.

Or perhaps I had not turned immediately. Perhaps I waited. Perhaps I was miles away before I even realized I regretted letting it go. I had my dagger, nonetheless, though there was nothing to kill.

My feet remembered the pain of marching—only I was marching to my own heartbeat this time, and not to the aloof and unfeeling trumpets of my century. I marched to the beat of my ever-fading heartbeat. My tongue was beginning to swell in the festering heat and I knew it would not be long before I reached the end of my time.

“Perhaps the other side,” I said. “Perhaps I will be there soon.”

“Perhaps not,” said a voice in my head.

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