Poem: Ears to Hear and Eyes to See

I am tired of laying my insides
before these walls
I am tired of staring
at these stones
I am tired
of being left out here

I’m not waiting anymore
If you want me,
you can come find me
I don’t think you will though

Until then
you can have these cryptic words
and coded images

If you have ears to hear
and eyes to see
you will know what I am saying

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Call of the Outlaw King

Call of the Outlaw King
(A Tale of the Commander of the Dead Militia)

Inspired by the song “Dead Militia” by Disciple

How does one become a member of the Dead Militia? They are a specialized group of the Army of Good and Light. They wear black when the others wear white. They are draped in shadows when the others bathe in light. They are the cursed and tormented. They have been through unspeakable things.

Yes, they are quite wound inflicted and scar afflicted. Forged from the fires seeping out from Hell’s gates so all impurities are burned away. Their scorched skin built to endure the poison and arrows of the troops of the prince of darkness. They are strengthened by trials. With every bullet that grazes and every explosion that flashes their power increases.

They are built from pain and suffering for the purpose of glory. Because of what they have endured they are able to return to the fires and floods where other regimes of the Army of Good and Light could never dream of stepping and surviving. Brilliant perfection created from a horrible mess.

How do you become a member of the Dead Militia?

It all starts with a small voice and a calling.

That is how it all started for our commander. There are only 2 sides one can be on in the great war of good versus evil. Either you on in the Army of Good and Light, or you are on the side of the Evil One.

Deep within enemy territory past their frontlines, weaponry, and tents of those in leadership on the side of evil there is encampment. It is large outdoor gathering of the prisoners of war whom the side of darkness has been able to ensnare. The mass of souls is large and goes on as far as the eye can see. Everyone is chained together at their necks, wrists, and ankles. They can do nothing for themselves but walk slowly in circles together. Over and over they walk slowly in their shackles together in circles, listening to the continuous chants of the dark voices. The dark voices tell them how weak and worthless they are. The people listen intently to the voices with their heads hung low in shame.
That is where we find our commander. Before he entered the ranks of the Dead Militia he was prisoner of the evil one. Before he wore that war torn jacket covered in medals of Honor he wandered in chains with everyone else lost to the dark voices.

Our commander didn’t start out as the perfect example of fearless bravery. He started out lost, just like many others have before him and will after him. All he heard day after day was the songs of despair from the dark voices echoing through his ears and the shuffling of shackled feet around him.

Until one day something broke the dreary monotony of the repeating chorus. One day, he heard another voice. It was quiet and difficult to hear. At first he couldn’t hear what exactly the other voice was saying. This new voice was light and gentle. This foreign voice was full of kindness and compassion. He did not lift his head. He concentrated and tried to pick out what it was saying. Finally amongst the loud chanting he finally heard what this other voice was saying.

“You are meant for much greater things. Come find me.”

“Come find me?” our commander thought to himself, “What does it mean by that? How do I come find it?” All he saw to his left and right were other prisoners in chains. He was afraid to lift his head to look out farther. The new voice spoke again, and this time he could hear it a little better.

“You are not weak. You are not worthless. This is not your fate. Come find me.”

The new voice spoke entirely different than the dark chants. Its words were completely opposite of what he had always heard out here. He was very puzzled by these new words he was hearing. Strangely though, the new words felt right. It was almost like something inside him felt like this had been the truth all along. He was just too afraid to do anything about it.

Our commander took a chance. He lifted his head and quickly looked around him. He held his mouth as to not gasp out loud at how enormous their group was. It was almost all he could see. However, for a brief moment in the distance he saw it. The sun was high in the sky at the peak of the afternoon, and below it he got the slightest glimpse of the arrows flying through the air in the current conflict. The brilliant blue of the clear sky burned into his retinas.
“What are you doing? Get your head down.” Someone beside him whispered.

Our commander darted his head back down before anyone else saw. He pictured that amazing sky in his mind again and looked at the chains on his wrists and ankles. This feeling started to burn inside him. Maybe the new voice is right. Maybe there is more for him out there. Maybe he isn’t as weak as the chants have told him all this time.

The new voice spoke again, this time louder than ever over the dark chants, “You are strong. You are powerful. You are worth more than anything on earth. You are meant for so much more than this. Leave this place and come find me.”
Our commander stopped walking. Everyone around him stopped and spoke sternly, “What are you doing? Get walking again! We don’t want to get in trouble!”

Our commander looked up at the sky again, “I do not belong here. This is not my home.”

As soon as he spoke, the chains on him broke loose. From his neck, wrists and ankles every shackle broke off and fell to the ground. His fellow prisoners were terrified and turned on him, “Get out of here! You are not one of us!”

They could not grab him or do anything else to stop him. Our commander took off running toward the fighting in the distance. He fought through the mob of people and chains. The entire group of prisoners was on a plot of land 6 feet below ground level. When he finally got the edge of their group he climbed onto ground level, and that is when he was spotted by the evil forces.

“Capture him before he can escape to the other side!”

Our commander had to think fast and get his bearings quickly. He looked around him quickly to find the source of the arrows he saw flying through the air. From the ground level he could now see just how big the army of the forces of evil was. Closest to him was many tents where all the top leaders resided and strategized their next attacks. Farther up at the back line of the battlefield lookout towers were planted every half mile and stood 3 stories high to keep an eye on the Army of Good and Light. The catapults lined up next after the towers. After that many lines of archers and infantry stood.

Beyond all the military forces of the prince of darkness and across the no man’s land full of treacherous traps was where the new voice was calling to him. He had to get to the other side.

The new voice spoke, “The only power they have over you is what you give them. Run the race marked out for you. If you seek me, you will find me.”

Our commander looked behind him at his pursuers getting closer, and then he looked at the battlefield again, “I have nothing to lose, I must go straight through.” He ran straight for the battlefield. Making his way past the towers and weaving through the catapults, he tried to lose his pursuers in the chaos of the fighting. The lookout towers spotted him though, and the forces on foot stayed right behind him. He reached the archers and infantry and kept running in an irregular pattern hoping to lose them, but they kept right on his heels.

He saw a wave of arrows headed their way, “This is my chance, I must break through while they are in defense mode,” he thought to himself. The frontline was yards away; he could see the no man’s land just ahead of him. Just as he felt some hope, a hand grabbed his shoulder and threw him down. He fought to get free from his grip, but soon another soldier came they both pulled him off the ground and held tight to his arms. “Take him back to the camp,” one of them ordered.

Our commander hung his head low again, he had failed to escape. He had lost and was ready to give up, but before he could completely give up he heard screams all around him.

Arrows rained down all around him. The soldiers of the forces of evil dropped their weapons and picked up their shields. His pursuers were shot and went to the ground, giving up their grip on him. Our commander looked around and noticed most of the arrows were brown, but the soldiers who had recaptured him had white arrows protruding from their chests.

Strange as it was, he had no time to ponder on it anymore. He took the opening given to him and took off into the no man’s land alone. They pursued him no more. They figured what awaited their prisoner out in those lands would surely do the job for them.

No man’s land is the area in between the battle of good and evil. Not only is it dangerous because it lies in the center of all the fighting between the 2 armies, it also has other dangerous qualities. Part of it lies in the power of the prince of darkness, and the other is held by the army of good and light. The piece on the side of evil is the most treacherous.
If one were to go from the army of good and light over to the forces of evil, the path is easy and flat. However, the same path changes for those who want to join the army of good and light. For those hearts that are pure and set on things above no man’s land is full of traps and snares. The ground is bear traps and spikes, and large blades emerging from the soil, and several lines of 6 ft tall barbed wire block the way. Lastly at the dividing line there is a 10 ft stone wall covered in thorny vines.

“Wow, there are so many traps. I almost can’t see the ground. Where will I step?” our commander thought to himself.
He looked around for what he had on hand to assist him. As he started to examine his surroundings he noticed that on the ground were many white stones, perfectly clean and unaffected by the filth of the earth. Just what he needed to get through; the work was still up to him though.

He gathered up white stones as he walked, and they were the perfect size to set off the bear traps as he continued forward. The way was not completely eased however. The ground was uneven and gave out on him at random. He was still tossed about and fell against the spikes and blades. They came up under his bare feet and got him from underneath. He was not left unscathed, but he was able to keep going.

Our commander came up to the first line of barbed wire. The formation was tightly bound crossed and irregular circles in a long spiral created by 2 large pieces combined together. There was no way to get over or around it. He had no choice but to go through it. The irregular pattern it had made it difficult to see a way through, however.

He looked at the long line of razor covered wired for an opening, and then he noticed something. On the ground there was a 3ft wooden rod, and it was also gleaming white like the stones.

“This might be just enough to help me push aside the barbed wired and make it through.” He said out loud.
He used the white rod to hold back the wired as he walked through. The way was still incredibly difficult as he twisted and contorted to move about in a way to receive as little damage as possible. It was impossible to leave this barbed wire without a sacrifice of blood though, and our commander was still cut up greatly. He made it though, and the white rod made that possible despite the injuries he received. This was how he moved through every line of barbed wired that came before him.

He went through 3 lines of traps and barbed wire. He was covered in lacerations. He clothing was torn and tattered by the razors and spikes. He was weary from the journey, but it was not over yet.

Now before him was the 10ft wall. The stones were black as night, and it was heavily covered in thorny vines. The vines were thick, and the thorns were varying in the range of 2-4in long and extremely sharp.

He looked around, and there were no white tools to help him this time. All he was given was the call of the new voice.
“The rest is up to you. Keep going. Don’t give up.”

Our commander had no choice to the climb the thorn covered wall. A 10 ft wall covered in vines seems like it would be perfectly set up to scale doesn’t it? That is not the case here. This wall and these vines do not want to be climbed and conquered. They are created to impede and hinder, to pierce and wound, to dispirit and discourage.

The texture of these vines is slick and slimy. Not easy for skin of hands and soles of feet to grab onto. The large thorns are extremely close together over most of the vines. The odds of a few thorns gaining the right angle to penetrate is inevitable due to the precarious position one must take to climb this wall. The thorns demand a blood sacrifice for all who dare to cross.

Do not forget that being off the ground elevated in the middle of the battlefield also puts one in the firing range of the any arrows fired toward the army of good and light. Just at the end, all escapees become the biggest target when all energy is gone and hope is almost lost.

Our commander had not lost all hope. He was worn and weary from traps and barbs, but hope was still there. He looked up at the walls at his options, and then he looked down at his filthy bloody hands.

“Go ahead, you can wreck me. So be it.”

His feet were bare, but perhaps in this situation that was a good thing. Our commander decided to use the thorns for his advantage instead of allowing them to only hinder him. His used the largest thorns as means to pull himself up by taking them in his hands. He scanned the vines for openings just big enough for the end of his feet to slip in and lift him higher. His toes wrapped around the thorns coming forth from the slippery vines as he transformed them from a means of entrapment to a tool of freedom.

No, he would not allow these thorns to be the end of this. The way was still incredibly difficult. As he reached for thorns with his hands and moved his feet from opening to opening the slightly smaller thorns pierced and cut him the entire way up. His clothes were constantly caught and he would have to release them while precariously balanced. His feet were never completely grounded on the vines so they grew weary from the weight of his whole body pushing down on just the tip of his toes. His muscles were tired, but there was no place to rest until the task was over.
At last, his fingers touched the edge at the top of the wall. He slowly made his way up farther to the top, looking around cautiously as to where the stray arrows were flying around him. The top would put him at the most vulnerable position so he had to be quick and not remain there long. He found 2 small gaps between vines where his hands could fit, and using these openings he looked up over the wall when his head approached the top.

On the other side there was nothing. No more traps or barbed wired. No more walls. It was a vast open field on the Good and Light’s side of the no man’s land. At the end of that large open area was the camp of the army of good and light. The goal was still far, but it was in sight.

He was tired of climbing and fighting these vines and thorns. He decided to take a chance and just jump off the top. Enough of his blood had been given to the wall. Finishing his climb to the top slowly, his feet were now in the 2 small openings in the vines. Arrows were flying above him. He took a deep breath and jumped off the wall.

There was no landing that would be without pain, but choosing to land on his feet felt like a grave mistake. His feet were weak and wounded from the climb so they gave out from underneath him quickly after he landed. He fell forward onto his hands and knees into the dirt.

All he did for a few minutes was look at the ground and try to catch his breath. He was afraid to completely rest his body and sit down because he thought if he did he might not get up again. There was no time to rest, he had to keep going.

He looked behind him thinking he would see the wall again, but that is not what was there. When he looked behind him, none of the obstacles he had just gone through were there anymore. It was all the same now, just an empty field. Nothing was holding him back now.

Nothing was holding him back, except his own body. He tried to get up, but he failed to remain standing for long.
“I will crawl to the other side if I must. I cannot stay here,” he said.

So he crawled. On his hands and knees he crawled the rest of the way. He left a bloody trail across the fields of the no man’s lands. His arms and legs were shaking with exhaustion the entire way. He breathed heavily under the intense heat of the sun. Sweat poured from every pore in his body.

He was afraid to look up and see how far he had left. The pain from all this wounds that had already been unbearable was reaching even higher levels of pain than he thought possible. The pain radiated all over him.

“I’m not sure if I can make it. I can’t take this pain anymore,” he said out loud.

“It’s a good thing your traveling is over then.”

Our commander was startled at hearing another voice and looked up from the ground. He knew that voice. It was the one that called to him from the other side. Now the source of that voice was standing in front of him.

“I am the General of the Army of Good and Light. I’m glad you made it. You were meant to be here, not over there as a prisoner of the forces of evil. You heard my callings and you conquered everything standing in your way and made it here. This is where you belong,” the General said.

The General’s white uniformed shined in the sun. Our commander was amazed at his sight and the 7 shining gold stars on this jacket that showed his rank. Many colorful medals were attached as well. As our commander continued to look at the General he noticed something in his hand. In his right hand The General was holding a bow. The bow was a brilliant white just like his uniform.

A brilliant white, just like the arrows that shot the soldiers that had gotten a hold of him. Just like the stones and wooden rod that helped him along the way. Not only was The General the one who had called him out of the pit of prisoners, he was also the one who had helped him through the no man’s lands.

The General continued, “I have a perfect place for you. There is a specialized part of the great Army of Good and Light. They are called the Dead Militia. They can go places no one else can because they have been through things no one else has. They are an elite group who go deep into the darkest places to fight the forces of the prince of darkness. I think that is where you belong. You have so much potential to do great things. If you work hard and never give up you will go far and do well in the Dead Militia. Will you join the Dead Militia today?”

Our commander looked back, thinking about all he had endured on the other side. He then looked back up at the General from the ground, “Where else can I go? You are the only one who has given me hope. Yes, I will join the Dead Militia if you will have me.”

The General turned around and motioned to his medics to come forward. 4 medics came over to our commander and prepped him for transport to the medic tent. They set out the stretcher beside him and our commander moved over to it slowly so the medics could examine his injuries. Our commander laid back on the stretcher, looked up at the blue sky, and sighed a breath of relief.

The General knelt down beside him and put his hand on our commander’s shoulder, “Welcome to Dead Militia, private.”

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Chemical Wisdom at Love Letter Fortress (A Tale of the Commander of the Dead Militia)

Chemical Wisdom at Love Letter Fortress: COMPLETED

A Tale of the Commander of the Dead Militia. Inspired by the song “Dead Militia” by Disciple.

None of our trials are frivolous. God doesn’t pick random things for us to endure just so he can watch us squirm and sink. No, we are carefully lovingly chosen for missions in this life, and our path is allowed to be laid out with many struggles to prepare the way to the battlefield.

Allowed, yes allowed. Only what obstacles are allowed to be there shall be there. Do not forget this friend.
Whatever fires we face gives us the ability and honor to save those going through the same thing. Don’t forget your training soldier. You were chosen to endure this so you could return to the fires and save others because you’ve been there before.

Just like our commander once had to do.

For this tale we find our commander with exclusive rank of Division Lieutenant. At the top you have the General, then his top commander, and next you have the 4 Division Lieutenants. They lead the north, south, east, and west divisions. The Divisions are further broken up underneath the Division Lieutenants. Our commander has battled bravely on the front lines, gone up the ranks, and is currently the 4 Star North Division Lieutenant.

The North Division is currently separated though. Our commander is with part of them at Love Letter Fortress. The other part is still on the battlefield surrounded by the enemy. In the intense days of the recent battles evil forces closed in on part of his division and broke them off from the group. Unable to get to them under the intense gunfire of the opposing side, our commander took the reminder of his division to Love Letter Fortress to regroup, call reinforcements, and devise a plan to save the rest of their division.

Our commander would never leave any of his soldiers behind. This required more men to be successful though. Having received word that the East Division would answer the call and would arrive soon to assist, the soldiers could only wait until it was time to strike.

There were many new recruits to the North Division. Being new to the Dead Militia is no easy task. Those that are fresh and new to the ranks practically have a target on their backs and are always shot at first by the forces of the evil one. They are relentlessly attacked and incredibly vulnerable to the corruption. Rookies were known to desert the battlefield and disappear into the wilderness never to be found again. Some have even been seen crossing the fields to the other side where they are gladly handed a weapon of the other side, and they immediately begin firing on their former comrades.

Some are able to see all these hardships through, refuse to give up the fight, and become proud members of the Dead Militia. Just like our commander has done.

Our commander had been meeting with the leadership in his Division all morning to discuss strategies for the upcoming mission. During this time he noticed that one of his top corporals had been missing from the meeting, and he decided to go out and speak to some of his troops to seek him out.

The testimony they gave started to feel eerily familiar. “He hasn’t been acting right. We thought he just wasn’t feeling well so we just let him be. Now we can’t find him. He just disappeared,” one soldier said.

“He was holding his right arm after that last battle before we retreated to the fortress. I insisted he go see a medic, but he refused and said he was fine. He’s a quiet guy anyway so I didn’t think much of his seclusion. He seemed more stressed and irritated last time I saw him though. He’s been drinking more too. I should have known better. Sorry Lieutenant Sir, I should have paid more attention to him,” another soldier good friends with the missing corporal said.

There’s that bottle again. It was nothing strange for soldiers to partake of the amber liquid here and there between battles. The problem came when the bottle became a crutch for functioning. The bottle is especially dangerous when one gets infected with corruption, as our commander knows all too well.

Our commander looked off into the distance across the grassy hills that surrounded the fortress, “I think I know where to find him. The bottle and corruption have consumed him and he has gone off into the wilderness. Perhaps he is not lost to us yet though.”

Our commander finished speaking with a few more troops and called for a few of his top corporals. “I know where he has gone. I’m going to go find him while we wait for the East Division. I am putting you in charge while I am gone. We have established our plans. Go through with them if I don’t return before the East Division arrives. I will find my way back.”

One of the corporals spoke up, “This is madness! Why are you returning there? We almost lost you once to the wilderness, what if you don’t make it back this time? We can’t save every single soldier that leaves his post, why this one?”

As our commander picked up a few things to take with him he replied, “It’s true; I can’t save all of them. I can save this one though. I know this path he is on, and I know how to conquer it.” Our commander put his hand on the concerned corporal’s shoulder as he departed for the wilderness, “This is why I was allowed to endure the wilderness. So I can go back for others. I will return soon. You have your orders.”

The corporal looked over at his superior, “Yes sir, good luck.” Our commander said no more and left the room. He said nothing to anyone as he departed the fortress. When he was outside of the walls and alone, he looked around at the scenery before him.

“Now to find where our corporal wandered off. I must find my way back to the wilderness.”

The wilderness was not difficult to track. It wanted to be found. Wherever the Dead Militia fought it would appear in reach of the sight of eyes. The curtain of deception would appear as a welcomed oasis from the difficulties of constant combat. Anyone that entered found out, however, that it was all an illusion. Our commander decided that if he started to walk in the opposite direction of the recent battles that perhaps of a sign of the wilderness would appear to him, because it always showed itself on the opposing side of the battlefield.

Sure enough, after a few minutes something began to show up in the edges of his vision ahead of him. The grassy hills around Love Letter Fortress grew a line up familiar trees on them as he walked closer. The same trickery that took hold of him when he was younger was now before him once again. As he walked closer he heard all the same peaceful sounds of birds and the same fragrant smells that he had some time ago when he last entered through those trees.
He caught up to the edge of the wooded area, and he stood in the same spot he had so long ago. The same worn trail was still there. The same way he and others and had taken. The same way he returned when many others were unable to.

Our commander stood there for a moment, hesitant to return, “I am the only one who can do this. I am the only one who can bring him back. This task has been given to me, and I have been prepared for it. I will not fail.”
He made his way through the trees and followed the trail through the deceptive forest. In the same way it had before, the vegetation started to thin out quickly. Soon enough the trees that towered above our commander gave way into open plains. All life dried and died off at the boundaries of this territory. Yes, he knew this place all too well. Looking down he saw 2 sets of footprints. One set looked fresh. He knew those belonged to his lost corporal. Another set was faded and had been there some time.

That set of footprints was his. The corporal was taking the same path our commander had in the past.

“It doesn’t matter how many times you caution someone based on your experience. Some of them still have to learn for themselves the hard way. I suppose if anyone can relate to that it is me.”

He set out into the death and destruction of the wilderness once again. He recalled out his felt last time he was here. For a short time it felt like home. It felt like this was where he belonged. The plains felt like an escape from hardship and responsibilities. He knew now that all this place could ever be was a trap meant to ensnare soldiers and chain them to their inner pain forever far from the battlefield.

If the evil one could get them here, he wouldn’t have to deal with them out in battle.

Yes, this place looked a lot different to him now.

After some time of traveling, our commander noticed the sun reflecting off something on the ground. The light shining off almost blinded him it was so bright. He tried to veer both to the left and right to change the angle, but the object kept filling his vision with white light. As he got just a few yards away the reflecting light faded, and a familiar amber color took the light’s place before him.

Yes, it was indeed his old bottle. There in that same field and in the same spot where he had left it some time ago.

“I can’t believe you are still here,” Our commander said.

Another familiar presence spoke up, “Wow, look who it is! Looks like you’ve gotten promoted since we last cross paths. That must be a very hard and stressful job. Perhaps you should take a moment to forget about it for a while. Why don’t you come my way, get a little closer, and just take a drink and relax.”

Our commander thought for a moment. He thought briefly about the good times he had with his old friend the bottle. That quickly turned into the truth that the bottle was almost the end of him and his time in the Dead Militia.
He pulled out his revolver from the holster on his side. He aimed at his old bottle on the ground and shot off 3 rounds. The bottle shattered and pieces went flying in all directions. The liquid was released into the soil and disappeared forever in the lost lands of the wilderness. He only spoke 2 words before he returned his gun to his side and resumed his search for his lost corporal.

“Not today.”

The dark voice spoke no more to him.

Our commander looked around again. Over to his right and he finally found him. The soldier he was looking for was sitting down in the dirt and death of the wilderness. A bottle to his left was sitting beside him. To his right was his gun. The weapon sat in his right hand, which was blackened with corruption. The sickened skin went up a few inches onto his wrist. The corporal took another swig of his bottle and kept looking intently at his gun. His finger remained on the trigger.

Our commander did not use his authoritative stern voice with him. Instead he chose a calmer quieter tone for this interaction. He spoke up as he got closer before his corporal had noticed him, “There you are corporal. I’ve been looking for you.”

The corporal dropped his bottle and jumped to save it from spilling, “What the! Lieutenant, is that you? How did you find me?” he asked with a shaking and startled voice.

Our commander spoke again as he walked in front of his corporal and sit down with him. He was 2 feet away looking him face to face. “I knew where to find you. I’ve been here before. Back when I was a sergeant I found myself here in much the same situation as you.”

The corporal was shocked to see his commander sitting down here with him, speaking so differently than he would out in battle. He looked over at his bottle, “Oh, I suppose it’s disappointing to see a rank such as mine out here then.”
Our commander replied, “No, I still struggle with this place myself after my time here. I carry the weight of this wilderness in my heart to this day. I think about it often and have many times before thought seriously about returning, and I’m a Division Lieutenant. It’s a burden anyone who has walked here must endure.”

The corporal tried to stay strong in front of his leader, but the overwhelming despair inside him was too much. He opened the chamber of his gun to be sure it was loaded and closed it back. Tears began to flow and he looked up at our commander, “I don’t know if I can take it anymore sir. I’m much too damaged and broken to return to the battlefield now. Look at my hand, who knows if it could ever heal again. There is no hope for me. I’m worthless to the Dead Militia. You’ve wasted your time coming for you. Just leave me here. I don’t deserve to live anymore.”

Our commander knew that desperation in his eyes all too well. He knew the dark places his corporal was roaming right now. His corruption was not as deep as his own had gotten yet. There was still time to save him. He took a chance, his only chance. When his corporal looked off into the distance he leaned forward and lunged at his corporal from his sitting position. He clamped both hands on the gun, and with his greater strength peeled his corporal’s finger off of the trigger. The corporal tried to fight back, but he was weak and could not overcome the power of our commander. He suddenly became enraged that he gun as gone, got up and lashed out at our commander.
“Fine! Take it! I don’t need it! I don’t need any of you! I’ll just wander here and die slowly and painfully. That’s what I deserve anyway!”

Our commander got up with his corporal’s gun still in his hand. He spoke as he stuck the gun in the back edge of his pants, out of sight of the corporal, “There is a time chosen for you to leave the battlefield and enter eternity, but now is not it. You still have a duty on the battlefield. You still have work to do. There is a place for you on the Dead Militia, and only you can fulfill that position. “

The corporal stood there, looking at the ground. Our commander pointed to this left eye and continued, “I lost my eye to that same corruption after my own time in the wilderness. I know what you are going through. I’ve been there before. I know how difficult it is, but I also know you can see this through and survive. If I can make it, so can you. Return to the battlefield with me. There is still time to save your hand. Your infection is not as far long as mine was and perhaps can be treated with antibiotics and medicine if we return with haste.”

The corporal looked up at our commander. He looked at the nothingness ahead of him in the wilderness, and he looked back toward the battlefield. He looked at his hand and then over at his superior at the scars he carried from the very same corruption. He clenched his blackened hand into a fist.

“You’re right, I have to go back and fight. Lead the way Lieutenant.”

Our commander was pleased, but he still had a warning for his corporal, “Good. Well done soldier. You will carry this place with you on the battlefield. It will call to you always. The choice to return, however, will be up to you. The way back is this way. Follow me.”

They both made their way back the same way our commander had come. The bottle the corporal had with him sat in alone the wilderness. Another bottle abandoned. The dark voice remained silent.

Our commander had not only completed the arduous task of returning from the wilderness once, he now about to accomplish it another time. The odds of a soldier returning the first time aren’t very good, and the odds decrease dramatically on return trips. The spirit and will are weakened over time with every minute spent on those desolate lands. The voice of good and light grows quieter under the screams of the dark one, until a point comes where it is heard no more.

The spirit of our commander had grown incredibly strong in these years as he went up in the ranks of the Dead Militia. The evil one feared him and his strength. His presence across the battlefield made the forces of darkness very nervous. Surviving multiple trips to the wilderness would greatly increase his reputation when word got out.

Back across the withered fields towards the curtain of deception they traveled. They returned to the same well worn path amongst the trees and made their way back through the wooded area that enticed so many before them to come partake of their beauty.The grassy hills of the battlefield begun to pierce through the branches of the curtain as they walked. The trees faded away one by one until they all disappeared as soon as their feet reached the green grass again. The corporal rubbed the joints on his infected hand in an effort to relieve the inflammation under the blackened skin.

“We must return quickly before your infection advances any further. I think you will come out of this much better than I did if we hurry,” our commander spoke as he pointed towards Love Letter Fortress in the distance.

“Yes sir, I need my hand to fight. It must be saved,” the corporal replied.

They traveled in silence for some time, but the corporal took a chance and spoke up again, “Lieutenant Sir, I apologize if I am out of line asking, but why did you come for me? I’m just one soldier.”

Our commander thought for a moment, adjusted his eye patch a bit and answered, “Every soldier in the Dead Militia is vital. You are all vastly different from each other and each one of you serves different purposes according to those differences, and we must have every piece for victory.”

Our commander turned with his missing eye toward his corporal, “I know the path you took well. I have been there myself. I have set foot on those desolate fields and was able to eventually resist and return. I was the only one who could go out into the wilderness, find you, and return. No one else in our Division has accomplished this. Perhaps you are so important to the Dead Militia that all of this was prepared ahead of time just so you could be saved.”
The corporal resisted that remark, “I’m not sure about that Sir. I do not think I am that important. I am easily replaceable.”

Our commander continued in reply, “You are not easily replaced. You are one of the few who has survived the wilderness. That is a priceless experience that can do tremendous good to the Dead Militia as well as the entire Army of Good and Light. One day, you will be called to use this experience. Be ready and willing to answer.”
The corporal saluted his superior, “Yes Sir! You’re right I will be ready!”

At last, they arrived back at Love Letter Fortress. Our commander’s team of top officers was waiting for him at the gates.

“We were not sure if you could survive another trip to the wilderness. Quite impressive Sir,” one of them said.

“My own demons came out to play of course while I was there. The wilderness is not something to take lightly. Take the corporal to the medics. His corruption is still in the early stages. We can save his hand,” our commander said.

In the opposite direction where our commander had come from something appeared on the horizon. In the light of the morning sun soldiers appeared and headed their direction. It was the east division arriving to assist with rescuing the remaining portion of his division surrounded by the enemy. He had arrived just in time for battle. Perfect.

“I need 2 of you to go out and meet the east division Lieutenant and bring him back to the strategy room. I will be waiting for him there. Let’s get ready for battle.”

The retrieved corporal did indeed get to keep his hand. After an intense treatment of antibiotics and other medicines the blackness in his hand faded before any deep scaring could be left behind. He had to sit out the campaign the save the rest of the surrounded north division, much to his dismay.

The campaign was successful though. The forces of the evil one were overwhelmed by the combined effort of the north and east Divisions and the brilliant leadership of those such as our commander. The Dead Militia was an unstoppable force when they worked together.

That is why the forces of darkness always worked so hard to separate them.

——————————-

After the mission to reunite the north division was successful before the east division went their separate ways, a message was received from the 7 Star General. Periodically during the year a meeting of the 4 Division Lieutenants was called to give battlefield updates and discuss any other needs that had arisen since they last talked. Generally only the Division Lieutenants are called. However, this time he requested the presence of a share of each of the Lieutenants best leadership amongst his Division, with a few staying behind to carrying on the fighting.

All in route were curious as to why, because this could possibly mean something big was being announced. What it was, none of them knew.

Because he was the leader of the entire Army of Good and Light and not just the Dead Militia, The General’s headquarters was in the center of all the battles going on against evil. It was a temporary shelter that could be taken up and put anywhere. Our General was not a stationary leader. He could be anywhere at any time. His movements were mysterious. Sometimes he met with his troops quietly one on one and commended them with awards in secret. Sometimes he honored them in front of many of their comrades. His leadership was absolute perfection and comparable to none, but his ways were not entirely understood.

12 in all arrived at The General’s Headquarters, which was currently near the war front of a campaign for the Army of Good and Light in the western mountains. Each Division Lieutenant brought two of his best and most trusted with them. A tent had been prepared for them. Inside were 12 chairs, a podium, and a table with a few papers and small boxes on it. Behind the podium hung the banners of each of the 4 divisions as well as 1 banner for the Dead Militia. Everyone found their seats and waited for The General. After some time The General’s assistant walked through the tent opening, “Please stand up, The General has arrived.” She requested. They obliged, stood up, and saluted their General as he walked through the entryway, across the staged area, and over to the podium.

The General spoke at the podium, “Thank you. Please sit down. I do have a very big announcement that pertains to the leadership of The Dead Militia, but first while you are all here I have a few medals to award. So let’s start with that.” He then went over to the table where the small white boxes were.

This day our commander was given the Kill Shot award for returning to the wilderness to save his corporal. It had a black and red ribbon with a silver and gold bullet medallion hanging on it. The Kill Shot award was given for excellence in ministry and service to others. A few other awards were given, and our commander enjoyed the opportunity to watch his comrades get the recognition he knew they deserved. It was much more fulfilling than receiving it for himself.

After the awards portion had concluded, The General returned to the podium.

“As you may notice, your Commander is not here with us as he would be usually. Perhaps you observed that no one has heard from him the last few days, and anyone who might know left only unanswered questions. His duties to the battlefield were finished, and he was called home to eternity. The battle is over for him. You will all be called home when your time on the battlefield is over. It could come today, a week from now, or a long time in the future. That point is unknown to you. Your purpose is to fight the good fight while you are still here, however long that is.

This news was kept quiet as to keep news from spreading to the other side. Today I convened this meeting truly to choose the next Commander of the Dead Militia from among my Division Lieutenants. We will then begin the chain of promotions in that Division to fulfill leadership needs.”

The General pulled out a single gold star from his side pocket and continued, “I remember the day this soldier was first called to the battlefield. I knew he was special from the start as he stumbled from the mass and found his way across treacherous lands, followed the callings and fell at my feet searching for something greater. He has fought bravely, showing incredible endurance, boldness, and strength as well as compassion and attentiveness to those he is in charge of.

The General looked down at the gold star one more time, “Today I have chosen the North Division Lieutenant to be to the next Commander of the Dead Militia. Please come up here and receive your 5th gold star.”

Our commander was shocked. He couldn’t possibly be the most qualified for the job among the Division Lieutenants. The other 11 sitting beside him applauded as he got up and went to the front. The General pinned the star with the other 4 on his shoulder.

Ah yes, now our commander is THE commander.

The General smiled, “Well done soldier. When we conclude here I will send you back for your things, and I will need you to report here after all roles have been filled. Then we will discuss what’s next.”

Our commander looked down at his 5 shining stars, looked back over at The General and saluted him, “Yes Sir! I will do my best,” he replied as he sat back down.

The final business of the day was concluded. Updates from each Division were given and The General gave his orders to each Division Lieutenant. Our commander chose the next North Division Lieutenant from the 2 the accompanied him.

After the meeting was adjourned word spread like wildfire of the new Commander. Our commander’s division was waiting for him when he arrived back at Love Letter Fortress to congratulate him as well their new Division leader.
He could not stay long to celebrate. The new Commander of the Dead Militia has work to do. He met with his top leaders of the North Division. New ranks and orders were given. He knew the North Division would be in good hands. They would battle together again soon.

Our commander gathered the last of his things and returned to headquarters to receive battlefield updates and plans from The General. As he crossed behind the frontlines and the current skirmish, his 5 gold stars shined in the afternoon sun. He looked across the field at the forces of the evil one with his one eye.

They saw the 5 stars and trembled. They knew those X shaped scars and shook in their boots. The soldier they feared had become the commander of the Dead Militia.

The Prince of Darkness put down his binoculars and scowled at the sight of that bright red X eye patch on the field, “They will be unstoppable now. The Dead Militia was already very powerful and able to go places and do things the rest of the Army of Good and Light could never dream of. Now they have the survivor of the wilderness as their Commander. How will we stop them now?”

Yes indeed, how will they?

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Explanation/Background for the Dead Militia Commander Stories

EXPLAINATION/BACKGROUND:

The battlefield the commander of the Dead Militia fights on in our stories is not a literal battlefield from our world. It is more of a representation of the spiritual battles we fight while we live here. I wouldn’t necessarily put everyone in the exact same uniform. I would probably have different characters have unique pieces, but still have elements have are the same and uniformed (like the colors and Dead Militia skull). Every story would be a different style of war faced throughout history if I could draw these stories to represent all the different battles we face through our lives. So I will take liberties and pull from all sorts of sources for the picture of war and battle.

The medals are just things I find admirable, some inspired from the songs/albums I based the name on. Perhaps not things medal worthy in our world always. Perhaps not things God himself would place a medal on your jacket for, but I still consider them admirable and worth acknowledging.

I know most people won’t get it because I tend to hang out on the deep end on stuff, and that’s fine. This is just how I express stuff and work things out. This is how me and God communicate together. He knows where to find me and how to respond. So if you don’t get it or don’t like it, don’t worry you’re probably part of the majority lol.

I try to give some credit to the band Disciple because I just took a line of their song and got carried away with it lol. The Dead Militia was not my idea. I’m just going way too far with it lol.

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The Medal of St Augustine

This is a story of how the commander of the Dead Militia got one of his medals. To see his introduction look up “The Battlefield” in my blog, I posted it last year so it shouldn’t be hard to find.

The Medal of St Augustine:

The Commander has many medals across his chest.  How did he obtain these great honors?  Each has its own story of triumph on the battlefield.  Sometimes the battlefield isn’t what’s in front of you though.  Sometimes its inside of you.  Perhaps today we can reveal the story behind one of his medals, and even begin to answer other questions that have arisen about our great commander.

He wasn’t always the rank of commander.  That illustrious rank must be earned, and only the absolute best are given the rank of 5 Star Commander.  In this story he was only a Sergeant, but we will still call him our commander.   

As I told you before, sometimes the battlefield is inside of you.  That can often be the most brutal, blood spilling, wound inflicting field you will ever pull your weapon on.  It’s a tricky field indeed, because sometimes in our deep corruption…we pull our weapons on ourselves. 

Deep corruption is so obvious though, so how can someone let themselves get to that point?  That thing is, corruption always starts small.  Its starts so insignificant that the soldier can often overlook it  or just let it remain because it seems harmless.  That, my friend, is the grave mistake.  Corruption takes this opportunity when it is allowed to stay, and it makes its move.  It grows slowly and gradually to stay under its host’s radar. 

Until this corruption puts the soldier’s eternity at stake. 

Many years ago the Dead Militia unit was deep in trench warfare.  It is not a memory any of these soldiers enjoy to revisit.  No, these were very difficult times.  Individuals were spread out over long stretches in ditches deeper than graves, keeping watch on the enemy.  Days and days of isolation with nothing but the filth of the soil to give them company.  In the winter the cold was unbearable and the desperate search for warmth seemed impossible in those holes.    In the summer the rains came and turned the trenches into pools of sickness and disease.  Any soldier will tell you, however, that no finger snapping sub zero temps or vomit inducing illness could ever compare to the pain that was the loneliness in those times.

At stated before our commander was just a sergeant at this time.  He was stationed at the most vulnerable part of the trenches at day, the area closest to the enemy.  This area required great vigilance because he would be the first to see any moves made by the enemy.  He would be the first to see gun fire.  The turn of the next battle could be up to him. 

It was spring time.  The first rains had fallen on the land.  However, the chills of winter were still in the air in the early morning so the remaining liquid covering the ground was also ice cold.  Cold and wet, one of the worst combinations imaginable.  Our commander was especially weary that day.  His spare clothing was still drying so he was wet and cold.  Days had passed since he had seen any of his comrades.  The quiet was just as unbearable as the noise.  The silence allowed his mind to wander into dark areas and fill his focus with rambling screaming voices.  For a moment he closed his eyes, trying to get a moment of peace so he could concentrate again.

That is when they decided to strike.

From the world between dreams and wake our commander was ripped back into reality as he was surrounded by explosions.  The enemy had crossed the battle line and aimed their missiles at him.  To his left and his right they landed and exploded, sending mud and shrapnel flying in all directions.  Gunfire cracked through the peaceful morning light, and bullets rained down around our commander.  Still vulnerable and confused from drifting off, he was able to sound the alarm to alert the others.  Unable to position himself to retaliate, he hid in a deep indentation in the walls of the trench. 

“He should be right here!” Finally another voice broke out amongst the shattering metal and igniting gun powder.  It was reinforcements!  He comrades found their way through the passages to where he had sounded the alarm, firing above trying to hold off the enemies’ advances.  They found their way to our commander at last. 

“What is your status sergeant?  Keep your head down and stay low.  Our missiles are about to launch.”   

Sure enough, our commander saw them go flying right above his head.  Horseshoe and Hand-grenade, the prized state of the art missile launchers of the Dead Militia for many years, were locked on the enemy and sending forth their response.  Dead center on target, the few enemy lines that had advanced were decimated and had to retreat to try another day.  H&H, as they were called for short, had won the day again. 

The dust had settled.  The weapons were put down for now.  However, the battle had just begun for our commander.  The trickiest part of the enemy warfare was just not the big explosions and loud obvious gunfire.  Their real weapon was the shrapnel that went flying in all directions.  Little bits of blackness and darkness created to infiltrate and infect when broken off. 

Our commander suddenly felt a slight pain in his left eye. 

Our commander did not think much of the discomfort in that moment.  He took the back of his hand to his eye and rubbed it a bit.  This caught the eye of his superior, “Sergeant, were you afflicted with any wounds or contamination in the battle?  Any mysterious pains could be corruption and require examination by the medic as soon as possible before it gets out of hand.  Remember what you were taught; it starts off small if allowed to enter the body, but if left to fester can grow out of hand…and you could be lost to us.”

Our commander replied, “I did not receive any wounds or hits from shrapnel.  I’ll be fine.”  He was confident in himself to tend to this irritation on his own.  It couldn’t be that big of a deal, could it? 

“Very well, everyone back to your posts.  We will be on red alert today after that attack.  Do not leave any position unattended even for a moment.” 

All of our commander’s comrades departed and returned to their previous positions on watch in the trenches.  The enemy did not again try to break the line and gain more ground.  They patiently watched and waited to see what their little corruption could do when men are brought to their limits.        

The sun fell beyond the horizon, leaving the soldiers in darkness once again.  There was no moon this night.  Only distant stars remained to shed any small amounts of light on the battlefield.  Our commander would not have any relief tonight.  He would have to do his best to keep watch for a little while longer.  However, the only thing he could think about at the moment was that discomfort in his left eye.  This slight discomfort had grown into a low level pain.  He took a look at it in the small cracked mirror he kept in his pocket.  At first there was no mark, but now a black bruised area had formed under his eye.  To any unsuspecting person it looked like a black eye, but this was no mere bruising our commander was up against.  His heart began to develop bitterness as he examined the growing wound on his eye. 

“Does my superior think I’m an idiot?  I’m not helpless; I can take care of myself!  I would have done just fine against the enemy without them!  I didn’t need them!  I don’t need anyone!  I have been here alone all this time and done just fine and kept the line all on my own!  Why did I ever join the Dead Militia anyway?” 

Our commander put down the small piece of mirror and rummaged through his backpack.  He knew it was in here somewhere.  He told everyone he had disposed of it, but that was not true.  He had held onto it and buried it deep within his backpack…in case he ever wanted it again.  “Ah hah I found it!” he exclaimed as he pulled out a bottle full of amber liquid.    

“Perhaps this will dull the pain long enough for me to sleep for a short time.”

Our commander took a few large drinks, enjoying the long lost euphoria he hadn’t felt in a long time.  As he closed his eyes for a brief sleep, the corruption was very satisfied with itself and grew in strength as he slumbered. 

Any truly satisfying rest could not be found by our commander though.  In between short periods where he drifted off the dark thoughts found him.  They flooded his head with anger filled thoughts and heavy despair.  Days and days of corrupted voices whispering in his ear caused the blackness around his eye to grow at a furious pace.  Soon the blackness completely encircled his eye and begun to consume the contents of the socket.  His eye reddened to the color of blood and his vision started to fail him on that left side. 

He did not tell a soul about his condition.  He sat with his bottle and continued to drink its contents.  That golden elixir was no match for the corruption though.  It neither held off its advances or dulled the pain.  It’s almost as if his old friend just made things worse.  Our commander, however, had not figured that out yet.   

Our commander had been alone this whole time at his post with no contact with his comrades.  He realized how much time had passed and realized any day now they would see.  As he sat writhing in pain leaning against the walls of the trench he finally pulled out his small mirror.  The monstrous sight of blackened skin against his blood red eye horrified him and filled him with disgust and deep sadness.  He made a desperate decision.

“I don’t belong here anymore.  I must leave at once.  I will go out into the wilderness and live by myself.  I’m not one of them.  I deserve to be alone.”

Our commander took nothing but his bottle of amber liquid with him.  He looked above the trenches for a sign of movement.  Staying low to the ground, he climbed out and crawled towards the edge of the battlefield and towards the wilderness.  The search lights were patrolling and moving about in search of targets, but he was able to evade them just long enough to make it out of range.    

Our commander stood up once he was behind a line of trees.  He looked behind him one more time.  Looking over the entire battlefield from the unwavering position of the Dead Militia to the looming enemy across the way looking to advance, he could see the whole picture from here. 

The pain of the corruption spiked suddenly and our commander winced.  Blood dripped from his corrupted eye flowed down his jacket.  “This is for the best I am sure of it,” he said to himself as he turned away from his comrades and continued on alone into the wilderness. 

It always appeared as if amazing sights awaited those who went beyond the battlefield.  The tall trees and green leaves always looked so appealing.  Our commander had often thought on how enticing the wilderness looked many times. 

Looks were quite deceiving though.  The line of trees was just thick enough to look beautiful and tempting to those on the battlefield.  In reality, the trees became sparser and sparser rather quickly as one walked beyond the battlefield.  They were nothing but a curtain for a vast empty plains filled with nothing but dying grass and rocks.  Our commander quickly came upon these fields, took his bottle to his lips and drank again as he thought to himself, “This is it?” 

A dark deceptive voice broke out on the fields, “This is all you need soldier.  No more work.  No more irritating people.  No more hardship.  It’s all gone.  You can just be by yourself to drink and be merry!  It is a paradise!” 

Our commander was startled and looked around for the source, but he found nothing, “Who are you?  Where are you?”

The voice spoke again, “I have called to you from the battlefield.  You are where you belong at last.”

Our commander looked out at the never ending emptiness, “Yeah, I do belong here.”  He began moving again, out farther into the fields. 

The corruption kept hurting.  The dark thoughts kept raging.  Our commander kept walking, drinking, and stewing in darkness.  Over and over, walking, drinking and repeating his thoughts.      

Our commander stopped walking for a moment, planted his bottle in the dirt, and sat down on the deserted plains.  He looked back and saw his footprints; they seemed like they went on forever.  Just on the edge of the horizon he could see the tops of the trees.  He could no longer hear the gunfire or explosions of the battlefield.  It was quiet. 

As his hand was down to his side there in the soil, blood dripped from this his corrupted left eye and fell on his hand.  He picked his hand up and felt the cracks in his skin coming out from his eye socket out to the rest of his face.  He felt the rotting skin around his eye ball.  He looked at the blood on his hand. 

“I will never be healed here, will I?”

“WHAT?  You are healed!  What are you talking about?  Don’t you see?  You are finally alone and at peace with no one telling you what to do!  This is healing!” the dark voice replied back.

Our commander picked his bottle back up and looked at it and the amber contents that shined in the sunlight, “No, this is not healing.  I am in as much pain as before.  I just wander around, drink, and forget about it for a while.  It always comes back because I haven’t done anything about the source.”

Our commander got back up and took another look at the trees in the distance.  He looked in the direction he was heading in the wilderness.  Looking back at the bottle in his hand, he let go of it.  The bottle fell into the dirt on its side. 

“I have to go back, and this bottle cannot go back with me.”                 

Our commander took a few steps back toward the battlefield.  The dark voice began to fight and scream desperately at him.

“What are you doing?  You can’t leave that behind!  You can’t live without it!  You will die without it!  You will never be happy again without it!  You know I am right!  You will forever be in pain and misery without this bottle!  You don’t belong on that battlefield.  You will be alone for all eternity if you go back.  Hurting and lonely forever!”

The commander stopped walking, but he did not turn around.  Honestly, he believed the dark voice at that moment.  Every cell in his body believed him and cried out for that bottle. 

Still, our commander had a feeling that none of them were right despite the fact it felt correct.  He had a feeling that this wilderness and all this wandering and wallowing were not the answer.  A small voice called him back to the battlefield.  He could barely hear it over the screams of his body and the dark voice that both screamed.

He clinched his blood covered hand into a fist, “No, this is not the answer.  I can’t live like this anymore.  I am going back.”

Our commander continued walking back towards the battlefield.  The dark voices continued to yell.  The cells in his body continued to fight.  He did not stop walking. 

He had drifted so far away though.  The way back would be long.  Back across the desolate plains he trudged.  The withered grass crunched under every step.  It appears even for vegetation this place only leads to death.  The deceptive curtain of trees towered over him once again as he found his way to the edge of the wooded area again.  Looking down he could see the same path others had taken before him into the wilderness.  Our commander was not the first soldier to travel beyond the line of trees that bordered the battlefield.  Not very many, however, found their way back here. 

Our commander looked back one more time.  To everyone else it was just a bottle, but to him it was a friend.  A friend that had been there for him in his darkest times.  Perhaps not the best of friends when it all comes down to it, more like an enemy hell bent on his destruction.  Knowing all this, it was still hard to let go of that old friend and leave them behind in the wilderness. 

He turned his head and looked back toward the trees.  After he began to make his way through the branches and vines, he never once looked back again.  The sounds of conflict filled his ears again.  It started off as a whisper and grew louder as he kept walking.  He followed the familiar sounds.  The sounds of his comrades on the battlefield guided him back.

At last, he found his way through the last of the trees that hid the sight of the battlefield from him. Looking again at the vast picture in front of him, this time it felt like home.  This time, it felt like this was where he was supposed to be.  Fighting alongside his friends against the forces of evil.  Protecting all that is good from their infection and corruption.  That was his purpose, and now he had to do anything possible to keep that purpose alive.  He knew what he had to do.

The journey had drained him of his strength though.  So had the corruption that had taken over his left eye.  He knew the corruption had to go at whatever cost.  He made his way back into the trenches and staggered his way toward the medics.  His energy was getting low. Time was of the essence. 

He found his way to the medic station and stumbled in with what little strength he had left in him.  The head medic run over to our commander, “Are you the missing sergeant?  We thought you were captured or missing in action.  When did you become contaminated?  You should know the procedure for this,” he spoke sternly to him. 

Our commander replied, “Take it out!  Just take it out!  Just remove my eye it is lost.  Do whatever you must to remove this corruption.  Take half my face is you must.  “I will feast in the banquet halls of Heaven incomplete if I must. I will not dine in hell because of this eye.” With those words he collapsed on the ground. 

“I will do my best sergeant.  Prepare the operating table!  This will be difficult, but I think we can still save him,” the head medic said as he organized his assistants for emergency surgery.  The room was prepared, and our commander’s unconscious body was lifted up and place on the operating table. 

The head medic began his work, “pass me my scalpel!”

The next day our commander regained consciousness.  He was amazed he had woke up at all.  He took his hand to his left eye and felt the bandages.  He felt the sting of fresh stitches on the left side of his face. 

The head medic walked in and spoke, “Good to see you awake finally.  We were not able to save your left eye.  It was far too gone.  We also had to remove some blackened skin around your eye and stitch up a few deep cracks in your face coming from the infected area.  You should completely recover though besides the loss of your eye.  You will have to adapt to fighting with one eye, but it can be done so don’t be discouraged.”   

Our commander laid back down and looked up at the roof of the tent, “This will not slow me down at all.  I will learn to fight with one eye.  I will not give up.  I will not abandon the Dead Militia ever again.”

“Good to hear.  I have just received word that the Seven Star General is on his way to see you.  Your story must have made quite impression on him.  He should arrive soon.  I will send him this way when he gets here.” The head medic replied.

Our commander’s one remaining eye shot open, “WHAT?  The General?  He wants to see me?”

The medic laughed, “Don’t worry it’ll be fine.  I don’t think it’s disciplinary.  It felt like a positive trip by what the message said.  Just rest for now,” and he left the room. 

Our commander looked back at the ceiling, a little bit nervous now.  Why does the General want to see him?

A few hours past, and the head medic returned, along with someone else.  “Here is the sergeant you wanted to see.  I will leave you 2 alone now,” he said to the General as he left.

Our commander sat up in his bed and started to get up. “No need to get up sergeant if you aren’t up for it,” the General said to him. 

The General was not only the top leader of the Dead Militia; he was at the top of the entire army of good and light.  His military jacket was white and pristine with black trim.  He had awards no ordinary soldier could even dream of attaining.  His jacket was embellished with 7 stars, and no mortal could ever be ranked with 7 stars.  Only the General could have that many stars.

The General spoke again as he pulled out a small box from his jacket pocket, “I heard of your journey into the wilderness.  I am grateful that you found your way back.  Not everyone returns.  For this accomplishment and for your willingness to give up whatever it took to return to the battlefield I am here to give you this.”

The General opened the box, and inside was a brilliant medal.  A gem encrusted cross with a cream colored ribbon on it was inside.  The black X was embroidered on the ribbon.

“This is the St Augustine Medal of Honor.  It is given to those who demonstrate amazing feats of resisting temptations from the evil one.  The X stands for whatever your struggle is.  It’s just an X now, nothing more than a remnant of your past.  It doesn’t own you anymore.  Do not forget that.”

The General handed the open box to our commander and he looked down at it, “I’m not sure I deserve this sir.  I don’t think I did anything worth admiring or rewarding.

The General looked him straight in the eye, “I decide what is admirable and what is not, and I have decided what you have done is admirable.  You have much potential sergeant.  Your story with the Dead Militia is only beginning.  You will do many great things here.  You have no idea what journey lies ahead of you.  I know how hard it was for you to give that bottle up.  I know it took everything in you to leave it behind.  I’m proud of you.  Rest up sergeant.  The battle still rages and we need you back soon.”

Our commander saluted his General, “Yes sir I should be ready to return soon!”

Our commander and The General shook hands, and the General left the room and the medic tent.  Our commander got his jack from off the chair beside his bed and pinned his medal on before he laid down again to rest some more. 

A couple more days past, and our commander was ready to return to the battlefield.  He would still require trips the medic to tend to his wound for some time, but he was cleared to fight as long as he came by regularly to have his wound examined.  His eye socket was still bandaged, but the stitches branched out from under the bandages across the entire left side of this face.  They made the shape of an X across his face. 

Our commander was dressed and gathering his things to leave the medic tent.  A nurse walked into the room and handed him something, “Here is an eye patch to wear over your left eye socket.  Good luck sir,” she said and left quickly. 

He looked down at the eye patch.  There was a red X painted across it that would match the scars formed by these stitched up cracks once they were removed. 

Our commander laughed to himself, “How fitting is that?” 

He put on the new eye patch over the bandages, straightened up his uniformed, pick up the rest of his things and departed the medic tent straight back toward the front lines. 

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Poem: Not going to get rid of you

I’m not going to get rid of you, am I?
I’m stuck with you, aren’t I?

I am cursed to feel the spine of your thorns
breaking off little pieces of my rib cage
one by one
as you dig further into my side
and into my bones

I am ill-fated to feel your claws
ripping chunks of flesh off my back
bit by bit
as you dig in further into my shoulders
and refuse to let go

I am doomed to hear your voice
slowly stealing parts of my soul
piece by piece
as you continue to whisper intrusive thoughts
never ceasing your cruel words

I’m not going to get rid of you, am I?

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The Dying Sheep 20 Year Anniversary Tour: Part 6, The Darkest Day

Here we are, the pinnacle of The Dying Sheep’s 20th Anniversary Tour. On this day 20 years ago I had my one and only suicide attempt. One of the strangest days of my life.

I was actually on a trip to a church camp in youth group. I took a bunch of pills. Later that night I changed my mind and spent the entire night trying to puke them up. Involuntarily puked when everyone got up and got taken to the ER by my youth minister. After some time there an being given something for the nausea I was taken by to the camp and put back into the mix.

I was not into it at all at that point. I still felt really nauseous and sad. We were at a pizza buffet and I remember sitting out in the lobby by myself, and this guy came over and got my attention. We went outside and talked. He was the first person I ever met that understood what I was going through. The camp was at a college, but I have no idea if he was part of the camp or not or just a college student. All I know is that he motioned to someone that he appeared to know to take me with them for the day (I had missed some of the morning stuff so I didn’t have a group).

I saw the young man one or twice more during the day. Once again, didn’t know anything about him but he seemed to go to the college but not be on staff to work the camp maybe. Later on that night there was a music performance and I saw him one more time in the lobby outside of the venue. We exchanged addresses and he left. I never saw him again. When we were leaving the next day I hoped I would find him to introduce him to my youth minister, but I never found him. I wrote him once, and he never wrote back.

I’m honestly still not sure if he was a human or an angel. He could have been either. I’ve just always had a strange feeling about him and how he moved about that day through the event. Either way he was my angel that day. I’ve never found him online. I wish I could, its still one of my greatest wishes is to find him again.

So yeah, I still call it the one of the worst and best days of my life because it was my darkest moment, but it was also paired with that spiritual encounter that helped me hang on for 20 years.

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The Dying Sheep’s 20 Year Anniversary Tour: Part 5, Moments with God

So here I am. 20 years of depression and anxiety. 20 years of fighting with addiction and wanting to end it all. Here I am, still faithful to God. Still believing in what his plans are for me. Is it true that struggles make your faith strong? Absolutely. I wouldn’t have the faith I do now without these last 20 years. Here’s a mix of moments and where these last few years following God have taken me.

  1. All the places I’ve taken my story of these last 20 years. I’ve gotten to tell my testimony in many places. From this blog, to a tv interview, to live on radio, in groups and on pages on social media, to on stage at churches…I’ve been able to testify to my tale in many places over the years. It all started with God asking me, “this seems really important to you, the question is….what are you willing to do for it?” and I said “anything!” so I’ve tried to do everything I can.
  2. High school is where my faith became my own. In the beginnings of all this is where it turned from my parent’s faith to mine. That’s where I first promised I would stick around and have faith in what day God chose me to leave this world instead of my own choice.
  3. It took me a while to realize it, but God had never left me. I remember the day I realized that. It was after college sometime, and I was just looking back on things. It finally dawned on me that God had been with me all along. I felt he had abandoned me in those darkest days. That day is when I put down The Dying Sheep name.
  4. I’ve always loved it when God sends a sign in the sky. There’s been some particularly good ones. I remember one drive I was praying hard and the clouds and sun formed this amazing picture as I prayed. I’ve always loved faces in the clouds too. I remember one time I started praying to the face in the cloud, and just as I completed my prayer and told God I love him the face went away, staying just long enough to listen.
  5. I’ve met some great people over the years. I had great friends in college. I’ve met awesome people through Christian rock concerts. I have a few awesome friends locally and have a great bible study with. there’s been a lot of great connections.
  6. 5 years ago God pushed me to quit drinking. He wouldn’t give up on it. He kept saying I could do it when I doubted. He even sent The Protest and their song “control” during that time. I was finally able to quit later in the year.
  7. I’ve connect with God a lot through writing. Sometimes he answers me very clearly through a poem I’m writing. I feel like the holy spirit gives me an image to write about to help express what I’m feeling, and sometimes God comes in and answer me in that image. A few of my works are very precious because of that.

This part seems kind of random. Just wanted to ramble about a few moments with God for a part. Had to ramble a bit for this week because next Tuesday is the exact 20th anniversary of my only suicide attempt.

I long for the day I get to go home to eternity, but I could never take back these last 20 years.

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The only promise I keep

I will fail God many times in this life. I will break many promises. In fact I will break almost every promise. There is one promise I intend to keep. I will not give up on him and what he has planned for me. The world can make me look a fool all they want, I will not break this promise. Even if it is the only promise I have kept when I depart this world. I will have that promise in my hand unbroken when I receive the victor’s crown.

Will you keep your robes that wear out and your riches that will surely rust? Will you hold tight to the crown the world gave you that can not last and will crumble right off the top of your head?

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The Dying Sheep’s 20 Year Anniversary Tour: Part 4, Anxiety

Oh anxiety, I hate you the most. I’d rather be depressed my entire life than have to deal with you.

My biggest struggles with anxiety have been the last 8 years. I developed allergies to disposable gloves while working on labs. The experience was traumatic and triggered intense anxiety and compulsions. I started worrying about germs and getting contaminated in ways I never was worried about. I worked in labs for a few more years, and I had to wear nitrile gloves for the job so my hands just took a beating the whole time. I kept compulsively washing my hands.

I haven’t worked in labs for a couple of years or so now, but the routines are still there. The compulsions and thoughts are still there. My old self never came back. My hands are still not in that great of shape. Hand washing and keeping things “clean” feels like the only way I can have control sometimes.

8 years later, I still don’t feel clean. To be completely honest, I have not desired to live much these last 8 years.

This year has been extremely out of control. Its been extremely stressful. The emotions the world puts off are very difficult to deal with. There has been a few months this year that have felt like one straight month long anxiety attack. I just want peace. I just want to have hopes and dreams again. Right now I don’t even want to look ahead to Christmas.

The only thing I take for anxiety is CBD oil, but it works well. Just like depression, I haven’t taken a lot of meds or gone a lot of therapy sessions for my anxiety.

My wisdom on anxiety is minimal because I still greatly struggle with it, but here is what I have:

  1. Anxiety is a reaction in your body. It was a beginning and it has an end. It will reach a conclusion. It feels like the world is ending and it won’t end, but the feeling will end. If you can hold on and let it run its course, it will end.
  2. Until the reaction ends, finding healthy ways to cope is important. Self harm is escaping and avoiding and turns into an unhealthy addiction. I recommend expression, exercise and helping others. Expression is important. Get the poison out and talk or write about it. Talking about tough anxiety symptoms can help because you can find other people who struggle too. Some symptoms feel like something worse and its really just anxiety, like for me struggling to swallow is a symptom I have been able to deal with better after talking about it. Healthy ways to deal with anxious energy like exercise is good. Its like it distracts your body and gets it focused on something else. Creating something beautiful and focusing on brilliant colors or scenes in art can help. As I said before, finding ways to help others and get your mind off yourself is also very helpful.

That’s the best I can do with anxiety. Remember that the reaction won’t last and find a healthy way to see it through until it does end. Maybe 2021 will bring some peace.

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