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You will be found by TJ Hemmings, Stoke on Trent College

February 2022

One two, bullets and boots.

Three four, rumbling engines and screaming roars.

A company of 4 dozen trucking through the forest as we fly at unsafe speeds… yet despite the speed we couldn’t be safer in this truck.

A breath, a blink, desire for a drink.

Checking our gear, covering our rear.

We jump out of the truck two by two with strapped up boots almost like a small military company and geared up like a full one.

A small breath, a small panic.

I’m feeling asthmatic.

We trained for this entering the forest… we don’t know why; we don’t know where not that we’d need to know because we didn’t give the say so.

My allies in arms as the darkness surrounds us almost unreal and ethereal but still grounded and yet not so surreal, we check our guns and cleanse our kits as we sweep through the marshy forest.

The radio static chirps through and we get our command.

‘Contain this thing before it gets out of hand!’

As If it was summoned we locate a heap. What is it? Why would we know? How did it get here? Why would we know? What comes now? That we do know.

A bolt cracks back, take a deep breath. Relax.

A finger dancing and tapping. Wait for the order don’t panic.

A thought in your mind. Why wait? Don’t chance it.

The order too late. This. Our last date.

The Heap it rises in the murky waters. Oh God why was it rising?!

Claws outstretched as we hear a growl as soon as our lights flickered, how long? I don’t know. But the water ripples and we form up to protect the ally the ally protecting us.

A distant scream, now a horrid dream.

A loud KATHLUNK! Look right, 4 gone.

Bubbling and splashing, crimson waves flowing.

An order and a shout, no fear no doubt.

Bangs and flashes ring out in your ears whilst the water splashes, thrashes, crashed and more 4 more going down. Making our company shrink; what are my thoughts? What did I think? I couldn’t remember. I couldn’t think.

Not even 10 minutes as we shrink and falter the casings in the water, filling it and making the sludge more than it already is. After it is over, I am left almost uninjured as it rises in front of me with a hole in its side, an inordinate jumble of sinew and bone spewing out, a claw raises to my head and presses gently, bodies of my once admired and strong comrades floating and wallowing about in the mire, a flash grave.

It croaks and growls, what’s giving out its voice? I can’t tell, it’s in my head, oh God this is hell!

My body flushes in agony and pain; something unnatural and wild residing in my brain. My body changing and my form rearranging. I look down at my body, decimated and drained, the voice in my brain as we bound away, not alone and no longer afraid.

‘You… you will be found.’

Where are we going? Is this my new hell? I don’t know but I’m not myself… oh God… I’m not myself.