by Jane Diesel

It’s cold mud cold mud cold mud cold mud until it becomes cold mud hot mud hot mud cold mud hot mud hot mud hot mud hot mud hot mud

By the time I got to medical they said my fever was 104 one oh! four the fat nurse said it kind of worried

and she looked angelic because the room was the first white thing I had seen in months and her too not a speck of mud on her and I was hot hot hot close to heaven sweat on my thighs felt the brown canvas get tight

They put me in next to Collins the one who lost his arm the first day one arm Collins why is he still here send the kid home couldn’t hold a gun well maybe he could he has one arm left

and feet hot hot when I see the stump I feel hot like I shouldn’t look like I caught the fat nurse dressing but he doesn’t get mad doesn’t look back just stares off into space into that close close heaven all around us

And in that first night I was hot hot and cold then hot again I said Collins it’s so hot and he didn’t say anything I just heard the bugs buzzing somewhere in the room it was dark then black black white hot

and you could feel their little feet crawling over you even when you couldn’t see them crawling up and down your back and legs covering you up like the tight canvas holding you down with feelers and legs and wings and creeping creeping

The fat nurse comes in the light and says 106 one oh! six and she’s worried because the drugs aren’t working and I’m not worried because I know she’s God’s angel

and she is going to save me save me from the black save me from the hot save me from the mud she will save us all and it’s so white

and I feel them all over me nurses the fat one and an old one who looks like my aunt

and a doctor with bad skin who stinks stinks so bad I think I might be out there where I got stuck in the hole with that body for 10 ten! hours

and Collins’ dead fucking arm

They leave at some point

and I find myself wake up wake up in the dark not in heaven yet still on this hell of an earth I don’t want to be here anymore I don’t want to be on the earth anymore I don’t want to be here in the dark anymore because they’ll find me

I feel them walking up and down me poking me over and over with their little legs their hairy little legs their wings their feelers I am so itchy I am so itchy I could pull my damn skin off slide right out of it like a snake white hot white hot up my neck it’s pulsing it’s alive

I feel it

I feel it I feel it it’s pressing it’s hands down into me it hurts why didn’t they just kill me when I was in the hole why didn’t they just kill me then before cold mud cold mud cold mud itchy itch itch itch oh get it out of me get it out of me

I feel it trying to get out they’re crawling out of me they were crawling over me and I was crawling over them and we were all just bugs dead bugs baking in the sun flies and maggots

I feel it it wants out it’s screaming at me it’s screaming to get out and I’m screaming back I want to get out of this body Collins don’t you hear me use that one good arm you have and put my soul out crush my throat hot hot itch itch squirm squirm it’s singing in a deep voice somewhere in me don’t you hear it it’s right next to my ear singing singing in the dark dark

White light now the fat nurse is screaming too

and then dark

and hot and then things

feel quiet quiet and still the bugs don’t talk don’t crawl they tell me when I stir that there was something under my skin alive the babies were there

and they took it out

and I am tired it is warm not hot but too bright too bright to sleep and the nurse leaves but says she is close

and not to worry but she is worried and disgusted because I am disgusting I am a disgusting man who has done disgusting things

In the bed next to me Collins has pulled the sheets over his head he looks like a body and I hate it it makes me crazy

and I go over to tell him

I feel crazy crazy from this fucking fever man and pull the sheets down

and there is his fucking arm chewed up and raw and red and the maggots and flies are streaming over it like wave after wave of men

and I am screaming again and it is dark and the nurse is back screaming again and it is hot and hot and cold and then nothing

They said again bot fly and some kind of infection but my head hurts

and I have to go back into the mud tomorrow

and I don’t want to think really thinking makes all of it hurt worse

and I don’t know where Collins is but he is gone he was gone before he got there what was left of him was just a wordless one arm guy 18! eighteen years old

and I am the eldest

and one of the most senior now standing out in the mud piggy wallowing in the mud and carrying us to glory glory glory hallelujah the angels will not sing for us I am afraid to live and too scared of God to die I am sorry I am sorry I am sorry cold mud cold mud cold mud

I wonder if in the dark of the woods the moths chase the moon.

Jane Diesel, unfortunately, is. Follow Jane on Twitter: @ThinDieselle.