Gounaris (a story inspired by a newspaper article) by Jana Mičuchová
Now - the sky is so high and so light, almost white. Disappearing. Like him. Lying there weak and fragile, he feels nothing, but the iron framing of the stretcher under his back. He doesn't know how long he's been in the middle of this meadow surrounded only by Christ's horn bushes heavy with fruit. Suddenly, saliva starts filling his mouth. A memory of the astringent taste of the leathery fruit of his childhood touches his palate. He hasn't eaten the fruit since then. But he can't even now. Bound to the stretcher, powerless, yet strangely resigned, he is watching the sky. He is unable to guess how much time has passed since he was kidnapped. Minutes? Hours? It isn't important in the end. He has spent these last days, minutes, hours, seconds waiting for death, and the time has lost its significance. \\ Before - they stormed into his room in the hospital while the head nurse was taking his temperature; pushed her aside so much that she dropped the thermometer, and the mercury spilled under the bed. They threw him on the stretcher, ran out of the room and through the corridors. Doctors were standing with their eyes and mouths open wide, speechless. The shaking of the stretcher was like a gallop rhythm: up – down – bang – up – down – bang... Then they placed him in the motor van. He kept losing consciousness during the ride; heard voices, but couldn't distinguish the content. When the van stopped, they pulled him out, and placed the stretcher on the ground. Then they left. \\ Then – the sky is getting closer, the white is getting whiter. He can hear the van coming back, but he can't see anything but white circles behind the white mist. A man's voice shouting at him: “Get up! Get up!” But he can't move. Someone squeezes his arm painfully and makes him sit. “Get up!” he can hear the same voice shouting the same command again. “Help me! He won't stand up,” the voice utters. They try to lift him up by two arms, but he can't stand. “Give me the strychnine! Quick!” The mist dispersed; the pain is gone. The world is suddenly visible and sharp. He sees five men under the olive tree; four of them standing, one sitting with his back rested against the trunk. He is pushed towards the tree. When he turns around, he faces blank, empty figures with guns turned against him and the other men under the tree. “Do you have anything to say?!“ one of them asks lukewarmly. No reply follows. The silence is broken by the first shot. Something rustles in the olive tree and a flock of bee eaters flies out of the tree crown towards the sky.