(Fiction) A Time Gone By - Stuart L Holmes
Yes. When the last of them had left, the shimmering sound of leather boot to marble floor was but passing drums, marching out and beyond the pearl temple steps. So often had the general dreamt of reaching such a marvellous construct that meant so much more to him. More than he'd have any other know. The surroundings were gifted with; if there were such a thing as, frozen time. A temporal crack that he could pass in and out of on a whim. The columns of snow white, stirred with smoke strands of grey that remained encased within them, like a pot of paint being unearthed and mixed for the first time. It was this quality of craftsmanship in design that he adored the most. It gave him hope. Not a hope for a future, in fact he was a man of no future at all, no grand plan for the ages to come, but as for the ages past he had dreamt and schemed what it would be like to be within that wondrous time.
He wasn't of the era he was born and he'd convinced himself that truth since the day he could read. Outside the officers scattered like drunkards from a bar at close, unsure, weary, and ultimately betrayed by something out of their control but determined to carry on. They scurried towards a row of pitch black cars, lined out the front of the ancient site. The general however, remained. A voice like cotton, murmured loudly from outside, drowned by the planes swooping by. All he could hear was the roar of thunderous hooves galloping across rich rock soil, diving into sand as cantankerous droves of legionnaires marched perfectly side by side towards conquest and spoils. Fearless of death, welcoming it much like the gambler who places a bet and puts all he has against the mercy of the dealer, he stood still, without regret or care. General of thousands meant more than millions those years ago. He had commanded thousands for every day since the start of the war but not once had it stirred within him a sense of pride. Not in battle, not as a leader, not even as a man of his men.
This! This which he had never even seen in all its shameless glory had lit the fire of his gut and the tenacity of his will to cause his heart to flutter so. BOOM rang the shells that fell, though heaven sent, outside the temples walls. Screeching banshees fly in the sky before morphing into crashing landslides of space and time, ripping holes in the world, in the mind! The officers outside wailed and shook their fists in feverish panic, sweat caked caps quickly being flicked from foreheads with the shockwave of every bombs, god like clap. Braver felt the General, and madder thought the officers of him as he strode careless and oblivious through the halls as they were being bombarded with precision metal tankers of hate.
A stray piece of bomb shell tore like an iron disc through the air outside and smashed into a pillar within the temple. The dust rose from its heartless finish and the General turned in rising dismay. No one individual could be so callous as to destroy something of such value and worth. "You can have your women!" He cried "You can have all the chiseled men of pure bred manhood! Leave me this beauty!! Spare this piece of the ages!!!" He cried painfully; though he would not beg, with the hornet's nest of airplane engines that buzzed and spluttered outside. With his hands raised, he shouted something into the crisp air then erupted into a torrent of debris, ash, rubble and blood. An officer lowered his head for but one millisecond of respect before flagging down his brothers in arms and driving far, far, away from the temple on the heath. The general would be remembered as a madman, but he will have died where he had meant to...surrounded by that which he loved. A time gone by...
Stuart L Holmes