As my eyes darted along the horizon, I wondered if I would ever see another sunrise.
The mud beneath was wet from the blood dripping from my wounds. With each drop that left me, I was losing a fragment of myself.
The mud bathed me in the warmth of my own vitality - the only warmth I could find on this chilly evening.
Yet, I was cold as stone - no - in fact, I was a reduced to a mere stone in a field of grass - lifeless, and unable to move.
There were footsteps. Concealed in the gentle thuds was the sound of wood scraping the bed of mud. The footsteps came to a stop right before my body.
The reaper peered down upon me from above, smiling - as if in mockery.
Every cell of my body was prepared to give in. But my mind was lingering over the thought of giving up.
Drawing on the last drops of the elixir in me, I came to my knees, and slowly rose to my feet.
The angel inside of me would lead me back to the path that I had strayed from. All he wanted in exchange was the will to do so - which I had in plenty.
The deal was unconvincing at first. The choice of just giving in and lying there resting forever was too tempting to not consider.
But something inside of me was writhing in disagreement. A part of me wasn't happy with the idea of quitting. Its shrieking grew louder by the second, driving me to the brink of insanity.
Just when I thought my head would explode, everything slowly started fading away.
And then my life reeled in front of my eyes, showing me everything I had sacrificed, and everything I had gained as a result of those sacrifices.
Then the angel spoke. He was pleading for sacrifice; he was pleading for righteous survival.
All he wanted me to offer was only what I could give - blood, sweat and tears. He promised victory in return. I assumed it was worth a try - they would just be wasted either way.
The deal was made - another trial of blood, but this time for a seemingly sane cause.
As he led me across the field, I witnessed tulips blooming around me, as if in homage to the work of the angel.
For, after all, he had brought back a man from the verge of extinction.
Every tulip that my blood stained hands touched turned into a beautiful pink rose, standing testimony to the new life that had been instilled in me.
All of a sudden, there was warmth. I flinched at the thought of losing warmth yet again, for I thought it was the very own warmth that was leaving my body not too long ago.
But this warmth was different. It was incoming, and devoid of a cold residue. I paused for a moment long enough to soak in a generous amount.
A few moments passed before the source revealed itself - the sun was rising at the horizon, opposite to the mountains where I thought I had witnessed my last sunset.
With this new light came an overpowering wave of grandeur and vitality. The red roses glowed in soft crimson, gently laden with sparkling drops of dew.
The bees followed not too long after, making sweet love to the flowers, seducing them into offering their nectar.
It was a spectacular sight - the most beautiful thing I had ever laid my eyes upon.
And then it dawned upon me. This was heaven's beckoning to me. The clouds above were urging me to move ahead with them. The gentle breeze on my back was pushing me forward.
They were all signs to move on.
The reaper behind me let out a grunt. He wasn't amused. After flashing me a cold look, he turned around to walk away and resume his duties.
I must be grateful for what I was experiencing, and repay the world in full. And repay I will, by the only means I can - by continuing to live.
With the heavens on my side, I was ready to immerse myself in this newly discovered beauty.
Just as I had acknowledged the beauty around me, I started wondering how I could blend myself into this picturesque panorama.
The devil inside me seemed to have the answer. "Destroy" said he, in the most neutral tone possible, as if to state that it was an obvious answer.
I was half-convinced, but waited for the angel's judgement. I had to be courteous to him, for he had just brought me out of my despair.
There was a long, unsettling silence. I wasn't completely convinced that the path to experiencing beauty must be a sorrowful and bloody one. I was waiting for the slightest sign of disagreement.
Just when I was going to assume that the silence was the very sign I was looking for, there was a hesitant hum from him.
It was as if his judgement was against his own principles, but still a result of thorough contemplation. Nevertheless, it was still an agreement.
Never before did the devil and angel in me speak in unison.
"Revenge", they bellowed.
My body seething with hot, rushing blood, I was determined to butcher the bastards that had hidden - no - stolen - the beauty away from my little world.
After a momentary flash, I was back on the paved road where I had witnessed the death of my wife and child. The baked clay didn't poke me as much as a few moments ago.
I found myself glaring up at the faction that had ripped my life apart. But this time, I also saw visions I had failed to notice before.
My wife and children weren't the only innocent ones that had been slaughtered - there lay thousands of women and children, slain, on the very road I was being pinned to. My selfishness had blinded me from the grief of a thousand families.
Their grief only increased my determination to extinguish these tyrants manifold. I wasn't being selfish anymore.
I was ready to give everything it would take to restore beauty to our blood stained world.
I finally began to understand why even the angel was advocating violence - the invaders were blinded by the same selfishness as I was just moments ago. Evidently, it was the only way out of this mess.
There must've been a newfound overpowering ferocity in my stare, for the people pinning me started backing off in panic, as if they had just witnessed the summoning of a demon.
They were right in doing so. We'd had enough of being hunted. It was time to switch sides. A new hunt had begun.