Author: A. V. Meren
Title: The Rusalka of MASH 4077th
Feedback: Yes. I love, adore, and worship feedback.
Dedication: To all the people on the mashslash list, for being so patient with me. ;-)
Author's Notes: Adult fic, all kiddies please exit. You know where the back button is.
This is a short-short, just something I jotted down. Enjoy.
The Rusalka of MASH 4077th
We have lingered by the chambers of the sea
By sea-girls wreathed with seaweed red and brown
Till human voices wake us, and we drown.
-- T.S. Eliot "The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock"
There is a lake. It is not far from MASH 4077th, and it is not much of a lake. It is filled with weeds, and mud, and all kinds of filth. It is vile red-green-brown with algae and foul urine-yellow-white with pond scum, and it is really a very disgusting lake.
That is why the only one who ever goes there is Hawkeye.
If he had a choice, he wouldn't go there either. It might (technically) be water, and it might be *something* different to look at than the same brown-green-brown of the 4077th, but it really is disgusting. He doesn't like it, but he feels a strange fascination with it. He goes there not because the water reminds him of home (which it doesn't) but because of what lives in the lake.
It is a rusalka.
It is as beautiful as he is, but it is female. It is beautiful, but it is made of brown-yellow water and dirt-red weeds, the filthy water and weeds of the lake. It is beautiful, but it is dead, a corpse swimming. It is beautiful, and it calls to him.
He knows that it is a rusalka because he once, young and arrogant and needing more credits, took a class on mythology. Several in fact; he's always loved a good story. He knows what the rusalka is: the spirit of a dead woman who was murdered by the lake and became what she now is, calling and calling for lovers, good, handsome, young lovers, to join her, dead forever and haunting the lake. She swallows souls, killing them with her kisses and laughter. She fascinates him.
But he is not yet hers. He has a place and a purpose and people who depend on him and like him and love him. He's too tightly bound to the 4077th to ever let go, even in death; if death came for him now, he'd go to Heaven, or he'd go to Hell, or he'd go to great and glorious Fiddler's Green, or he'd probably just haunt the MASH people for the rest of their lives. He'd like that, being a ghostly version of the wild stray cat that haunts your neighborhood, strolling nonchalantly from door to door, secure in his territory.
Stealing Frank's toupee, turning Trapper's hair white (though no-one that knew him alive could be afraid of him, dead), watching Hot Lips and the nurses in the more delicate moments of their day. The voice that whispered advice in the O.R., that spooked Mulcahy with 'the voice of God', the wind that ruffled Radar's hair and blew up Klinger's skirt and sabotaged Potter's gin and Winchester's records, that gave B.J. some of the strangest dreams...A mischievous poltergeist that helped more than harmed, Hawkeye Pierce in death just as he had been in life. Laughter and kisses that meant life, not death. So he is not hers.
But he could be, and that is why he comes and looks and goes away again. Because she is pretty, even though he can see her as she really is, past charms and glamour to the rotting corpse that she is and sees when she looks at her reflection in the water and that he is and sees when he looks at his reflection in his shaving mirror. He is also a rusalka with laughter and kisses that kill, though of a different sort, and though his life-force is different from hers. She swims in her lake, he swims in the 4077th, and they know themselves and each other for what they are.
But for all that, there are differences. When all is said and done, and at the end of the day, he has people to remind him that he is alive, people to kiss him and yell at him and play pranks on him. He is alive. He knows this, at the end of the day.
But sometimes he needs reminding, and when he does, he goes to the rusalka. She always comes to him, appears to him, reaches out and touches him with her slick, dead skin. He doesn't shudder; little horrifies him about the dead, and he's touched too many bodies to notice the dead feel of her skin. He sees the image that she wants, that everyone else she calls will see, the beautiful girl with the pearls in long, black hair and sea-beautiful eyes, and skin that Hot Lips would kill for. And he sees beneath, to the pus and the rot and the bone showing, here and there, and he knows that she hasn't been dead long, a few years perhaps. He sees that, as she touches him, and he doesn't feel pity, because he knows her for what she is, soul-eater, the drowning deaths of brave, good young men, and he won't let her kiss him and kill him, not just yet. He's bound too tightly, with family of the soul, and death has no dominion over love.
But the death of the soul haunts him, day and night, his own particular demon--and it wears his face, the face of what he really is, as the rot sets in and the bone shows through. But sometimes it isn't him at all, but others--Trapper and Henry and B.J. and all. It waits by his side, day and night, and it makes him more alive than ever. Because he knows that it's there, and he knows what's coming, and someday there won't be anyone but him.
Not anyone but him, and the rusalka.
Perhaps that day, that one last day when he goes to the lake without anyone to call him back, he'll laugh with her, deep and shrill and mad together, and let her kiss him with her wet corpse-lips and slick, dead tongue.
Perhaps they'll kiss, long and slow and sweet, and they will wrap their arms around each other and together suck the breath from his throat, and the life from his eyes, and they will sink down, down, down, sink impossibly far for such a shallow lake. They will wrap around each other, and their eyes will be open, and his will film over and become like hers, all white and staring, looking out at the last that he will ever see, as a walking, breathing dead man. The sky above disappearing below the water that swallows all his world, deep and green and brown and filthy and black and