MARCH OF THE CORPSES
When you smell it enough, the stench never leaves your nostrils. The stench of blood. I’d pat their back, push them forward onto the table and as they settled down and lowered their guard, slit their throat. Sedation was not an option. This abattoir I called Old School Wrestling.
The thrill of the power in my hands never outweighed the guilt gnawing away at my mind, heart and soul. The image of a poor innocent lamb, smelling that scent, knowing the end was near but not just how imminent agony was. Agony I’d never feel.
The mix of hope and fear in their eyes… Some find that intoxicating. I didn’t. Nor did one of the other butchers. At least he had the mercy of opiates as his body grew limp around his noose. Alistair couldn’t withstand this circus of horrors.
It took one of our own to hit the finish line to know I was marching to my death too, walking down a pen that was intangible, but no less real. A viral outbreak intensified this realisation, claiming more colleagues.
All life feels pain, but some become addicted to it. It becomes a habit, and you become so set in your ways that you tread that worn path, craving the kiss of sharp steel that awaits at the end. Before you are shipped off yourself, you see other lambs disappear from the barn, never to reappear.
You see the sick and deformed fall limp at the farmer’s hand, a bolt through the head erasing all that was and all that ever would be… And you chew some grass, eat some grain and sleep soundly, dreaming of an oblivion you cannot comprehend.
Maybe you are Sir Renault, laying at the bottom of a cell, broken and at the precipice of mortality, and all you pray for is that truck to take you to your final destination.
Maybe you are Luke Storm, gazing up at the ceiling above your hospital bed, hoping for that next fix of poison to give you that ultimate high, a dose you cannot see beyond. Addicted to the pain.
I was the same, my friends. For so long, I lived in denial. I was a junkie, looking for the next fight, the next injury, the next life, in a different kind of pain but pain nonetheless. But what is the life we lead in the here and now for if not for living?
I saw the doors of the slaughterhouse were wide open, and I chose to gnaw through the mesh and trot out, to drown out that scent of blood with the aroma of the meadows.
I cannot forget the butchery, but maybe I can forgive myself. All I have to do is step through those crimson doors with my crook in hand, calling out.
“This way, my flock, this way to freedom from the pain you have always known, this way to family and life and hope without fear, where the only blades are grass and the only dead lived fully.”
And they’ll respond with a silent voice, “I shall follow. The only thing killed this day shall be my pain”.