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Among the Dead

The stringent gas snakes into my nostrils, burning my eyes, searing a metallic taste into my throat as I inhale, despite the knowledge that I am inhaling death. We all are inhaling our deaths.
Arms, a myriad of arms pushing against me, heavy and thick with hair, soft as satin, and thin as a reed, hands digging, fingers gouging, rank breath blowing out of contorted mouths, squeeling and screaming, crying and wailing, all hunched together as if we are one creature.
Eyes blurring, I push my way through the wave of arms and screams, searching, searching for Madelaine, my wife, her auburn hair now chopped to an inch all around her head, her youthful face now gaunt thin, her dark eyes devoid of laughter, darker for the shades of hunger beneath them.
In the corner of the chamber, I see a mother huddled down, her frail arms wrapped around her child, both shaven and stripped of humanity, weeping. An old man, his ancient face set with the knowledge of his imminent demise, stands still as the arms rock him, his toothless frown a mask of agony. A child, searching as well, but for her mother, tiny arms outstretched, wailing into the din of noise, stumbling, falling down, disappearing beneath the desperate feet of terrified souls.
I press onward. For Madelaine.
Sweat slickened bodies, closing in, wailing, everywhere I look, I see death. Death waiting at the brink. Death inhaled into lungs full of screams, full of prayers, full of cursings.
And then I see her, my Madelaine, my life. Turning, she sees me, her dark eyes wide with fear, her mouth a grimace of pain. I see her lips moving with my whispered name, but I can hear it as though she is shouting. Stretching toward her, reaching, struggling through the ocean of arms, I touch her fingers, curling mine into hers, connecting, being, becoming one. My lips touch hers, her shallow breath blowing cool against my wet cheeks as I breathe her name. She is life to me, and I to her as we cling to one another, among the dying. And strangest of all is I had counted her, and she had counted me, among the dead. By Sherie L Guillory 
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Upload Date: 31/12/1969

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