Nightmares: Mal
Wednesday, July 5, 2006

Second in the series. The subject matter is a bit dark (it is a nightmare after all), but it's nothing too graphic. Let me know what you think!


The usual disclaimer: They're not mine (though I wish Jayne was), and I'm making no $$$ off of this.

Feedback is greatly appreciated! Leave me lots, good or bad.


Mal stood quietly, and took in the landscape in front of him. The resilience of nature was remarkable, and as he looked around Serenity Valley six years after the war, only the deepest scars from that battle were still visible.

Though lovely and verdant, it was quiet as no one would live there. Most thought it haunted, if not cursed, by the men and women from both sides who'd lost their lives. While Mal believed in neither haints nor curses, he had to admit that while it was one thing to name your ship after the place, it was quite another to put up a farm and settle there.

As he made his way down into the valley, he'd come across an occasional leftover from the war. While all the big wreckage had been removed - what with the Alliance hoping to erase what had happened there as much as they'd managed to sanitize the history books - he would spot an occasional bayonet, or entrenching tool; even a canteen with the owner's name etched into it.

Mal picked it up, and brushed the dirt away. It was no one he'd known, but he thought maybe he could find the family and return it to them, so he tucked it in one of his coat's inside pockets.

He took another step, and heard an ominous 'snick'. He closed his eyes, and muttered a curse under his breath. The trigger must have been hidden in the tall grass, and he'd carelessly stepped on it. He guessed that when they'd de-mined the place, a few got missed. He took his comm unit out of his pocket and tried to contact the ship, but no one answered his hail.

There was whisper in his ear, "Betcha never thought that once you got out of this valley alive that you'd end up dyin' here, didja Sergeant Reynolds?"

Mal looked around wildly to locate the source of the voice.

"Down here, Sarge."

He looked down. It wasn't a mine he'd stepped on, but a skeletal hand. He jumped back with a shout.

"Thanks kindly." Mal watched in horror as the dessicated corpse lurched itself into a standing position. It held out the hand to him, and in wonderment he took it. The corpse looked steadily at him, and Mal winced as its grip became uncomfortably tight.

"Remember me, Sarge?" the corpse asked.

Mal stammered, " isn't..."

The corpse's rictus of a smile grew wider, and it let out a papery laugh, "Heh, guess I'm not so 'pretty' anymore. Mebbe this'll help?" It pointed to the name tag on its uniform.

Mal leaned in, "Private Bendis?"

"The very same, Sarge. You're looking well. Guess life after the war has been good to you."

"Well, uh, I guess."

"Can't exactly say the same, Sarge. Been a hard road for those of us got left behind."

"Why's that?" Mal asked hesitantly.

Bendis stepped closer, and he was overcome with the smell of putrefaction, "It's hard bein' forgotten, Sarge. Bein' left behind by those that we served for, who deserted us without even sayin' a prayer for our soul's safe passage. Like you did."

Mal heard a shuffling sound behind him, and when he turned found that they had been joined by a group of other soldiers, much in the same condition as Bendis was. A wave of fright washed over him as Bendis' comment about him dying in Serenity Valley suddenly came back to mind.

He turned back to the Private, "What're you gonna do to me?"

"Whaddaya think we should do, Sarge? Whaddaya think you deserve? I mean, how is it fair that you got out alive, while we were left here to rot? Do you ever think that the only reason you made it out is because you didn't do enough?"

The barrage of questions confused Mal, "I...I don't know. I didn't think so."

"We beg to differ, Sarge. Last day of the battle, when I got shot...remember? You didn't even blink. I was standing right next to you, the man I admired more than anyone, and when I took a bullet, you didn't even turn to look after me."

"I was just shocked by the surrender, Bendis. T'was nothing personal. I made sure you got buried proper." Mal looked around at the others, and noticed that the green valley now looked as it had those last days of the battle. Smoky, fetid air filled his lungs and stung his eyes, and the cries of the injured and dying assaulted his ears.

The others began to circle him and he spun, looking from one rotted face to another and beseeched. "Bendis, Harrington, Rodriguez, Chin, I'm so sorry! If I could have saved each and every one of you I would have, you know that! But we didn't have the manpower or the supplies. It was a war dammit! You went into it knowin' that you might not come out alive!"

"We know, Sarge," Bendis smiled, "but we think you should have died with us. And we're here now to collect." With that, the horde descended upon him.

Mal woke with a jerk, and looked around frantically. The dining area was empty, as was the bottle of whiskey on the table in front of him. He blearily picked it up, and turned the last few drops into his mouth.

"So much for drinking to forget," he muttered. He closed his eyes to keep the room from spinning, then started to cry. Soon his body was wracked with sobs.

"I'm sorry," he whispered, "Oh God, I'm so sorry."


I based some of this on the stories that my husband recounted to me of a trip he took to Palau while we were still in the Marines.

Palau was a site in the South Pacific where there was a battle between the U.S and Japan during WWII. And while in this story the Alliance cleaned up the valley, on Palau all the wreckage remained. Including a mine that he almost stepped on.

He said that while the jungle had reclaimed the island, the aura of death and destruction was still overwhelming. And the islanders wouldn't go into the jungle, believing it to be haunted.


Wednesday, July 5, 2006 8:22 PM


Very good and affecting. At one point I thought Bendis was going to ask Mal to pray over them so that the dead could move on. I could see Mal remembering all the dead and feeling guilty that he survived but they did not. Ali D :~)
You can't take the sky from me

Thursday, July 6, 2006 2:11 PM



Man oh man, that was heavy. I can picture Mal having a great deal of horrific dreams on the war - you've captured one possibility spot-on. For a second I wondered if you'd do a similar one for Zoe, but then it occurred to me that her nightmares might revolve around something far different and more recent.......

Thursday, July 6, 2006 5:46 PM

BLUEEYEDBRIGADIER have definitely captured what it must be like for Mal some nights when his brain ain't percolating about Inara or finding the next job, qwerty:(

Can't wait for what you have appear for the remaining crew...though I gotta wonder if you're gonna temporally backtrack to get Book and Wash's nightmares...


Sunday, October 22, 2006 12:40 PM




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