“When our horses died of the cold we slit their bellies and slept with our feet inside the guts. One man’s horse froze around him; in the morning when he tried to take his feet out they were stuck, entombed in the brittle entrails. We couldn’t free him, we had to leave him. He wouldn’t stop screaming.
“Watching my comrades die was not the worst thing about that war, it was watching them live. I had heard stories about the human body and the human mind, the conditions it can adapt to, the ways it chooses to survive. I had heard tales of people who were burnt in the sun and grew another skin, thick and black like the top of overcooked porridge. Others who learned not to sleep so that they wouldn’t be eaten by wild animals. The body clings to life at any cost. It even eats itself. When there’s no food it turns cannibal and devours its fat, then its muscle then its bones. I’ve seen soldiers, mad with hunger and cold, chop off their own arms and cook them. how long could you go on chopping? Both arms. Both legs. Ears. Slices from the trunk. You could chop yourself down to the very end and leave your heart to beat in its ransacked palace.” (4)