The battle raged on violently and voraciously. Bullets and shrapnel whizzed through the air above the trenches. The din droned on like a dying train wreck.
They weren't sure how it had started. Rumors and parables abounded, but it had been far too long ago that it had started, at least a few weeks. Nobody could remember specifics.
Maybe it had been sparring corporations, vying for market "share" and the ultimate dominion in the "free" market. Maybe it had all started as a disagreement between a few shoppers at Wal-Mart, each trying to get best deal and save all of fifteen dollars, even if it cost people their lives...
Whatever the truth had been, it was lost. Lost now, to the present. The present moment was that of dissonance and discord. Jones felt the heat of an exploded grenade on his face as he stared into the thick abyss. Was it morning? Evening? So much smoke and glut in the air-- and he was so disoriented... He just couldn't tell. It had ceased to matter anyway.
But there was Haddy, with his silly contraptions and his hope. Haddy had fashioned a Christmas tree out of a few stray assault rifles and torn fatigues. Jones tried to tell him that it looked more like the devil's doorstop, but Haddy would have none of it. He believed in the spirit, and acted accordingly.
Any faith that Jones had had had been lost long ago. He only knew the crass and unforgiving ways of war, where no rules applied. There was no good or bad, only the dead and not yet dead. For him, there was no place in here for something like God. War was fundamentally wrong, messy, rude, filthy. The bumper sticker from his childhood had been right: War doesn't determine who's right; only who's left.
Jones was riding Haddy for days about his faith. Haddy seemed unaffected by the onslaught, and stayed focused on fiddling with his Christmas manifestations.
"You know it's March, no?" Jones would yell, salivating for a reaction. But Haddy only once looked up from what he was doing to lip the word "CHEER," with hyperbolic smile.
So when Haddy, after what must have been several weeks, finally said something, Jones couldn't help but be offset.
"Cover me," he had said.
Haddy climbed out of the trench into the horizontal rain of bullets, quickly shredding his uniform. Jones watched wide-eyed as Haddy stood, arms outstreched, unflinching as flesh was torn from bone. Jones was frozen. So seemed Haddy, even in the reign of violent terror that was being acted upon his body. As Jones stared, he ceased to fathom what it was that he was seeing.
Haddy stood as if crucified. Parts of his body began to fall away. As flesh collapsed, Jones blinked. Then blinked again. Haddy was still standing there... even though his body was collapsing. Haddy was standing strong, chest puffed up, arms embracing.
Jones would have rubbed his eyes if it wasn't such a cliche. Was he seeing things? Was it the Ghost of Haddy? Or an acid flashback?
The flurry of violent transformation if Haddy's body continued, but Jones could only see the... the... spirit? of Haddy? as it started to rise above the battlefield.
Jones wondered shortly if he was hallucinating. Soon he realized that others were witnessing the same thing, because gun fire sputtered and stopped. And for the first time in forever there was a light in the sky. And it was Haddy.
Jones lost the feeling in his legs and fell to his knees. He couldn't stop looking at Haddy.
"Merry Christmas, Haddy," he struggled, wiping tears from his cheeks. He reached out in a vain attempt to touch Haddy's aura--
His hand touched the cold granite of the gravestone. "Hadrick Walter Concepcion, RIP" was all it said.
"Merry Christmas, Haddy," said Jones.