He was a child again, playing in the backyard of his family home, arranging his toy soldiers, piling up mounds of dirt for them to hide behind. His grandmother called him to supper, time to end the war. He scooped his men up and dropped them into the can. She'd have chocolate pudding for dessert, his favorite.
Blood rivered its way down through a gulley between two trees. He stared absently, noting the bright shapes it made in the pure white. How had it come to this? he wondered. He'd tried to be a good friend, or at least he thought he did. But his temper and his many hatreds, petty and deep-rooted, always got in the way. He was aware of his problems, worked on them every day, but his emotions ruled him, he knew. He thought he could make up for all those bad times when he'd acted like a jerk, but, apparently, it'd been too late.
He arrived that morning bearing gifts, a blanket and flashlight, to give to his friend, an offering of sorts. He was trying to make up, it's the way he did it. Apologies were beyond him, he didn't know how, couldn't. He was dysfunctional in the extreme, had no capacity to empathize, felt only for himself. He'd trudged through the snow, gifts in hand, towards the man living on his property, smiling as genuinely as he could. But, when within a few feet, his would-be friend pulled a gun from beneath his shirt and without hesitation shot him twice. No words were spoken, before or afterwards. The deed was done, pure and simple.
He lay there stunned while listening to the car driving off. Death would overtake him soon; he had little time left to reflect or wonder. The sky was bluer than he ever remembered seeing it before, sharp, vivid, intense. He tried crawling back to his truck, but the effort proved more than he could handle, devouring what remained of his strength. He wished he'd been a better friend, but friendship had never been high on his list of importances. Self was all that ever mattered to him, he realized at this final moment. And now he was about to pay the price.
The air was peaceful as though watching; the cold, unforgiving; the blood draining from his body, unstoppable. If only, he thought, as he slowly drifted off to sleep, the deep sleep of eternal death.