The air is hot, close, claustrophobic; thick treacle darkness imprisons us like a nightmare you can’t wake from. There is no light where we are. But maybe that’s a blessing. Some things are best unseen. Even the worst your imagination can conjure is better than the reality. This is the large intestine. The UC is out there. Everywhere. Close enough to touch. A breath away. The platoon members rest a moment, but remain alert, taut, tense, always ready.
Azathioprine sits, eyes darting, bewildered. ‘Newmeat’. A voice inside his head, his own quiet voice, tries to make some sense of it all, “Somebody once wrote Hell is the impossibility of Reason. That’s what this place feels like. I hate it already and it’s only been a couple of months. Some goddamn couple of months, grandma…”
In the gloom Azathioprine can just make out the even, muscular features of Asacol. A veteran, Asacol has led the campaign since Feb ‘07. They say he’s a lifer. He’s been fighting the UC so long it seems like all he’s ever known. It probably makes little difference to Asacol if he gets out or not.
Azathioprine watches, alone with his thoughts. No one talks to ‘newmeat’. No one tells you anything. No one even wants to know your name or where you come from.
Hunched in a corner, pinched, twitchy, birdlike, is Prednisolone. Pred’s another veteran. This is his fourth tour of duty. Every time he thinks he’s home and dry, he gets hauled back in again. It shows on his face, like his soul has been sucked dry like the marrow from a bone. Pred’s three days short. In three days his war will be over. But the fight will go on without him.
In time Azathioprine will get wise, learn the unwritten rules, and out of the shadows will step a battle-hardened fighting machine. Mean, scarred, unfeeling Asacol will continue to lead from the front, taking on the UC wherever it hides, until the enemy within is finally defeated.