My friend and I were discussing World War I, and it was as if we were right there, witnessing it all first hand. We stood on a high hill where we had a view of the whole battlefield of Europe laid out before us, the soldiers all digging row upon row of those endless trenches beneath the broiling late afternoon sun, making all the vast preparations for war. My friend nudged me and told me that the army issued many of these soldiers such substandard equipment that often times they ended up being exposed and dying from the gas themselves as they were releasing it on the enemy.
As I considered this unpleasant piece of information, I found myself in a dark place, lost amid piles of skulls and bones piled higher than I could strain my neck to see, piles high enough to block out the light and the sun. I could hear the awful rasping rattle of someone’s dying breath, all sick and muffled. I turned and saw a gas mask staring out at me from one of the piles, the eyes black and empty.
I knew that the gas had been released in the air. I tried to hold my breath and run. But I just kept hearing that rattle, right over my shoulder, right at my ear, dogging my heels. I kept seeing those black-eyed masks staring out at me from every pile. I ran on and on, but there were just more and more piles, and I knew I’d never make it. I’d never escape the gas before my lungs gave out and I’d be forced to take a breath.