I had twisted my ankle when running, just after killing my first target on this campaign. Of course, I knew I was going to have to kill but it had caught me by surprise. Well, to be precise, she had caught me by surprise. I had been trying to put my weapon in the right configuration for shooting long range but then she appeared and raised her weapon. The look on her face was the one of a crazy person, her eyes all swollen and her hair a little bit everywhere, as if the madness had given it free reign over the head.
Scared as I got, I shot her without even thinking. I just pressed the trigger and she fell dead in front of me, her madness flying away from her body, every limb just collapsing on its on weight. I didn’t stay behind to check on her, although I would have wanted too. Somehow, I thought she wasn’t really dead, just trying to fool me or maybe injured. But I never knew as I ran away from the fire that came from down the hill.
My mission consisted in setting a vantage point on the top of the hill and start acting as a sniper from there. Others should then join me and we could stop the whole battalion before it reached the near port city. If the enemy took that part, we would be destroyed for sure. That port was our hope to launch a proper invasion to our enemy’s strongholds across the ocean. But first we had to destroy what battalions they had left behind after our consecutive attacks on their military.
I had not been raised as a military. To be honest, I didn’t know what I was doing half of the time. But there were people there that assured me they needed my help and that they would be there to guide me through the whole process. Well, that was true up to that moment in the hill. So I just ran for the top and, once I was there, I settled myself by some thick bushes. This time, I was able to get the configuration of my very modern weapon right. I took a position there and took a look through the visor.
Down the hill, it seemed as we were winning. I could see the general destroying a tank by himself and a group of soldiers attacking a group of enemies. There, I realized how awful this all was: blood and the stench of death everywhere. It really smelled like scorched meat and I knew I didn’t want to know where that came from. The sound of shooting that had followed me for a while was now very distant and a thought presented itself to me: will they need me?
What if they defeat the enemy without my help? Maybe I won’t have to kill again… I mean, if that girl was dead. Because if she wasn’t… But how would she be alive. My gun was so close to her and I was sure the bullet had pierced through her chest and she had collapsed to the ground. My God, is this was people have to go through? I never wanted any of this. Any death and blood on my hands… But it’s too late.
An explosion drove me out of my thoughts. One of our airplanes had exploded very high in the sky and the pieces were falling heavy on the battleground. Maybe we were winning the ground battle but it appeared they had the upper hand in the aerial part of this confrontation. I guess this is my time to come in and help.
I started shooting and, it has to be said, I was very good. One shot and they fell dead and my companions had noticed because they were able to pierce even more into our enemies flank in order to take their antiaircraft vehicles. I lost count of how many people fell because of me, how much blood I was accumulating on my hands. At one point, I started to cry because I couldn’t stop and I could see nothing but the dead falling at my hands.
Then I realized everything was about to finish. The army had penetrated the flanks and was destroying everything and using their vehicles to take down their own planes. It was something awful to see but even more horrible was the fact that many of the men that had helped me with my training, seemed to be enjoying all of this. They were corpses and blood everywhere, but some of them were already celebrating, laughing and doing victory dances.
Disgust ran through my veins. I wanted to vomit right there, which I did, just as the last few airplanes our enemy had began to retreat. The disappeared fast and then my radio began to beep but I didn’t acknowledge the sound. I just grabbed my weapon and threw it down the cliff on which I had been kneeling. After that, I just walked down the hill, ready to die from a mysterious bullet if it came to that.
In a matter of minutes I was joining the rest of the army but I didn’t want to be with them or with anyone else. I was disgusted by me, by them, by everything. This could not be the only way things could be solved. It was impossible that the only way we had to make ourselves be heard was to kill each other and, worse, enjoying it.
I have to say I was a bit relieved when I saw that many other men seemed to be thinking the same as me. Besides, the stench of the battlefield couldn’t be ignored. After all, this was a warm region and bugs were already having a feast with the rotting corpses lying everywhere. I wanted to close my eyes until I reached the camp but that was impossible. Not only because of the terrain and the distance but because when I closed my eyes, I kept seeing her dying in front of me.
The number of corpses began to decrease and I knew we were about to enter friendly territory. By then, I had already made up my mind: I was going to leave the army and find another way to help the people. I had entered this war because of the injustice and cruelty the enemy had brought upon us but I knew we couldn’t respond their brutality with even more brutal and sanguinary acts.
When we finally got to camp, I walked straight to my bunk. I grabbed a small bag and put my few belongings there. I also took of my clothes and change into a plain green shirt and jeans, which hadn’t been washed in some time. The whole time I was there, the radio kept beeping. I left without talking or even staring at anyone, headed for the command center. As I expect, the general was there. He seemed unharmed. He asked me why I hadn’t answer to his calls. I only took out my radio from my chest pocket and gave the radio to him.
- I won’t need it anymore.
He took it but didn’t stop looking at me, confused first and then angry. He asked me what that meant and I explained I couldn’t kill. I couldn’t live my life enjoying the death of others, even if they had done so many things to me that I’d rather not remember. The general proceed to threaten me to be court martialed but I reminded him I wasn’t a military but a civilian in military garments. I told him I had left them in my bunk except for the boots, which I needed because I had no shoes to wear.
Before he could say anything else, I left the place. Many soldiers stared at me while I walked towards the main gate: some of them with defiance in their eyes, some of them just scared to death. Maybe their reaction was because they couldn’t do that. Almost all of them had entered the military, they weren’t civilians like me that had been tricked into thinking they could help a hopeless race.
No, most of them knew what they had singed up for. And they didn’t mind. Eventually, they would all become killing machines, the ones the rebellion needed to destroy the enemy forever, without any possibility of retaliation from their part. But that was impossible; someone is always going to want revenge, for one thing or the other, in one way or the other.
Real peace is impossible with such resentment, such hatred based on ignorance, which is by far the largest and most effective weapon armies and governments have at their hands. I know that the enemies didn’t want to torture me as they did. They were brainwashed to do so, as I was to think that by killing others I would feel better or happy. I won’t, never. Because only cowards shoot first, and doubt later.