In the evening they all trooped out to see a lousy Hollywood extravaganza
in Technicolor, and when they trooped exuberantly back the soldier in white
was there, and Dunbar screamed and went to pieces.
"He's back!" Dunbar screamed. "He's back! He's back!"
Yossarian froze in his tracks, paralyzed as much by the eerie shrillness
in Dunbar's voice as by the familiar, white, morbid sight of the soldier
in white covered from head to toe in plaster and gauze. A
strange, quavering, involuntary noise came bubbling from
"He's back!" Dunbar screamed again.
"He's back!" a patient delirious with fever echoed
in automatic terror.
All at once the ward erupted in bedlam. Mobs of sick and
injured men began ranting incoherently and running and
jumping in the aisle as though the building were on
fire. A patient with one foot and one crutch was hopping
back and forth swiftly crying, "What is it? What is it?
Are we burning? Are we burning?"
"He's back!" someone shouted at him. Didn't you hear
him? He's back! He's back!"
"Who's back?" shouted someone. "Who is it?"
"What does it mean? What should we do?"
"Are we on fire?"
"Get up and run, damn it! Everybody get up and run!"
Everybody got out of bed and began running from one
end of the ward to the other... The ward had turned
into chaos. The patient delirious with the high
fever leaped into the aisle and almost knocked over
the patient with one foot, who accidentally brought the
black rubber tip of his crutch down on the other's bare
foot, crushing some toes. The delirious man with the
fever and the crushed toes sank to the floor and wept
in pain while the other men tripped over him and hurt
him more in their blind, milling, agonized stampede.
"He's back!" all the men kept mumbling and chanting
and calling out hysterically as they rushed back and
forth. "He's back, he's back!"