Mostrando las entradas con la etiqueta uniform. Mostrar todas las entradas
Mostrando las entradas con la etiqueta uniform. Mostrar todas las entradas

martes, 21 de junio de 2016


 He took a bite of the sandwich while looking at the huge shark as he passed by the glass. It was a majestic creature, a real wonder of the seas. Don loved to sit there every day at work and just watch such a creature swim from one end to the other of the tank. It was a very large ecosystem but the sharks had a tendency of always moving around, which made them very interesting.

 Of course, there were many other creatures like manta rays and several types of fish, but none of them had the beauty of the shark, its elegance and just utter grandeur. Don’s lunchtime would soon be over. He only had thirty minutes to eat whatever he brought from home or bought from one of the many stores in the park. He really liked the big hotdogs from the stand by the turtle’s pond. They were always covered in thick mustard that was spicy and so rich and delicious. When he was in a good mood, he bought two.

 It was also the day he had a night shift. He hated it because he had to parade all around the park, walking up and down with a flashlight, looking at nothing because there were never trespassers in an aquarium. Who was going to get in there? Some barracuda thief or someone who really wanted to have a real penguin as a pet? No one would do that. But the company that managed the park was so cheap with their hiring’s and expenses that they rather put him at night with a flashlight than invest in real security like cameras and all that stuff that any other place had.

 In any case, he took that time to see the animals when they were less stressed out and it happened to be really nice. They behave differently, as if a huge weight had been lifted from their… Well, not shoulders but, you know what he means. Don loved to see the penguins sleep because they got all together and put their heads in a funny position and it was like seeing an old man trying to sleep at the park. They were little funny creatures and he had grown to care for them.

 When he was finished with lunch, he had to go to his day job as a janitor. He knew he had to be close to the petting areas because kids always spilt water on the ground there and more than one mom had complained about the puddles there, which could cause accidents and a lot more things according to them but he rarely listened to the whole speech. It was funny to him how they thought he was like the owner of the place or something.

 He always had his mop and his little cart to clean the mop not very far from him. Also a wet rag to clean the glasses and a bottle that left those glasses looking perfect in order for all the visitors to have a good look at every single creature in the aquarium. That was his job and he was kind of proud of it after having done it for more than twenty years. He had to like something about it after doing it for so long.

 That afternoon, just before the park closed, he bought two hotdogs and asked the young lady to put them in a Styrofoam case, in which they sold burritos and nachos and other stuff. She complained because she knew he had the night shift and every one there was kind with whoever had the nightshift. Even Don would always give a chocolate bar to the person that had to do it all the other days. His name was Vinnie and he was an idiot but the surprising part was that Vinnie only worked for that job, four days a week. Don had to do it the other three days of the week. It was a fair settlement, although odd.

 Vinnie was the type of guy not many people would hire: he had been in jail a couple of times and he appeared to show some evidence of mental challenges, if you will. He was very kind, organized and loyal to the place but, he was very dumb, always asking silly questions about the job and the animals, like how they mated in the dark at night or how the manta was able to fly and if the shark could read his thought. He was really insane but people, the other workers, cared for him. He was part of the aquarium family.

 That day though, it was Don’s turn to watch around. He had his food, his flashlight had brand new batteries, and he had brought a bottle of fresh orange juice from home and a magazine he had found in the trash by the tank of the jellyfish. It was one of those celebrity magazines, where they show who has been doing who and how and where. He wasn’t particularly interested in all of that but the magazine had enough information to keep him interested all night and that was the real important part.

 He also wanted ice cream but he had no way to store in order for it not to melt in his hand or his pocket. The weather had recently changed, from very windy and rainy to a dry heat. There were rarely clouds in the sky; no matter if it was day or night, it was really disturbing sometimes. He would have wanted his uniform not to be pants and a thick shirt with a hat on top and those big black shoes. He had even approached his boss about it but he had been convinced that if he wore that in the day, he might as well do it by night.

 Don really didn’t get that logic because, after all, of the other guys in the aquarium got to dress in shorts and nice cotton shirts and sandals. The dolphin trainers were always half naked and no one said anything. There was even a girl in the shark tank that hated to wear shoes. She would never use them, even in winter. Her fashion only included sandals and that was it. She didn’t fell cold or so thought Don. In any case, he would have wanted a changed for the evenings.

 As the doors closed, he decided to change things without telling anyone. After all, no one was even there to tell him anything. He had brought some flip-flops from home and he put them on as soon as the park got deserted. His feet were actually very thankful for that. The black shoes and socks stayed in his locker as his shift started. He watched the main map at the entrance, as he always did, and tried to create a route that would pass once by every single tank or exhibition. That way he did his job right and he had time to read his magazine and eat whatever he had around. He brought it all in a plastic bag.

 It was strange to be the only one making sounds in the night. He thought it was funny how only was person was trusted to stay there at night, to take care of so many animals that needed constant care. Sometimes, he would chat for a while with the vets that came at night. It did happen every night but it wasn’t unheard of that one of the creatures was having problems with its food or something like that. And those men and women knew a lot. The night passed by fast when they were around, imparting their wisdom.

 But that night, there was no vet or anyone else. Don was alone to read about how some celebrity had entered a rehab program and then gone out a week later. He ate one of the chocolates as he stared at the tank holding the sea dragons and then moved on to the sea horses, which he had always considered very particular, because of the fact the male can hold the babies while the mothers do other stuff. It was a little miracle in the sea and he pictured what that might look like in humans.

 A noise good him out of his imagination. At first it seemed to be far, not very important. But then, it seemed to be getting louder, to be more and more serious. He realized it was water and the first thought he had was that he might have to go for the mop right away. As he ran towards the sound, Don thought that maybe one of the animals was restless. He had read about in a magazine, how aquariums weren’t a thing anymore. They had no whale there and the dolphins had a huge habitat but maybe it was them. But it wasn’t.

 The sound stopped before he could arrive. Just as he arrived to the jellyfish exhibition, he saw someone run away. He attempted to follow but he tripped with his flip-flops and his bag of treats slammed against the floor. The Styrofoam case spilled hotdog all over the place. But that wasn’t the worst. The tank was spilling water all over and it wasn’t because of the animals. It was because there was a body floating just above the jellyfish, who seem to carry the dead man. As he got closer, Don’s jaw dropped realizing the corpse was Vinnie’s. He was purple.

miércoles, 16 de marzo de 2016


   When Muriel was in the shower, she suddenly remembered how being in a combat zone felt. The water reminded her of the many times they had been under heavy fire and how they had narrowly escaped death. Well, how she had narrowly escaped death because there were others who had gave their lives for the cause that they were defending, a cause that Muriel had trouble understanding now that she was home.

 She had arrived just a couple of days ago, being received by her parents and her boyfriend, although she hadn’t seen much of him. Muriel couldn’t explain it but, she had missed John so much in the filed and now that she had seen him again, she couldn’t even make herself hug him or kiss him or say anything sweet to him. She felt as if her heart had dried out in the desert, consumed by everything she had seen, day after day. She hadn’t even hugged her parents and they had tried and she knew they had felt it too, that awkwardness, like a barrier that now existed between them.

 Trying to scare all the negative feelings and memories away, Muriel decided to shampoo her hair and enjoy the nice odors of her parents’ home. Where she came from, she didn’t really have the chance to wash her hair very often. Actually, she had showered a few times the last month and it was always a minute, two at the most beneath the coldest water a country that’s hot as hell can have. But, even so, she had to confess that made her feel alive.

 The smell of chamomile that the shampoo had reminded her of a time that seemed very far in her past now. She had been picking up flowers with her sister near a house her father had rented in some mountains, not very far from the city where she was now. That time seemed like a dream. Because it was almost false, unlike the burned bodies and mutilated corpses she had seen in the last year. Her mind immediately went to the destroyed cities she had seen; the destroyed cities she had helped become a battling ground. Because, the more she thought about it, the more she realized her presence there was also a problem.

 For many people, she was the enemy and even locals, just people that tried to survive, ran away from her when she tried to come near them. It didn’t help that she was the only woman in an assault team and that the rest of her teammates could be considered brutes. They were man built like a mountain, guys that she had managed to control during training. Some were nice enough, she could even talk to them about what she liked and didn’t like in life, about her boyfriend, her parents, her dream to someday become a veterinarian. But other were just beasts that had to be controlled at all times. And some other times, they were released.

 She rinsed all of the shampoo from her head and then just enjoyed the warm water falling on her black, gliding down her breasts and belly and legs. Muriel instinctively touched her breasts, as if she didn’t know that they were still there. She really touched them and got a bit aroused but her goal was not that but to really feel something, whatever it was. She had been numb for so long that she started touching more and more and then put one of her hands over her vagina and… And she stopped.

 Like a pinch to the stomach, memories came running into her brain, once again. One of those beasts, one of those animals she had been to war with, had tried to rape her on the first week. Luckily, Muriel was a good cadet, a good soldier in general and was able to turn his brute force against him. She threatened him with telling everyone and he laughed at her, touching his penis over his pants. She ran away before he could say or do anything else. That image stuck in her head, even though she had been trying hard to eliminate of her mind.

 She grabbed the soap and decided to clean herself properly, every single centimeter of her body. She even sat down in the shower floor in order to feel she was under a waterfall or something like that. She had always done that, fro, the time she was a child, and her mother always told her that was a waste of water and that people in other countries would have loved to have that water to drink and cook and live. And then she would argue with her and loose.

 Now, Muriel had seen the world and the truth was that she didn’t really cared if a family or a boy or a girl had no water to drink because of her. She simply didn’t believe that it made any difference. For her, she had discovered, the world was full of shit. The world was evil and awful and people didn’t really ended up in the bright side of things. People had bad endings, every single day. People died or they were killed, and there were orphans and fear conquered all of their hearts and that was just how things were.

 What Muriel had done in that country, her killing and her helping, was not useful. She didn’t make any difference by doing those things and she was ready to tell any idiot than helping with such stupid things didn’t help anyone. Being kind one moment and awful the next didn’t make you even or something. It made you human and humans are made to make each other miserable, make each other suffer and, slowly but surely, make competition go away because that’s how the world goes.

 Then, she stood up from the floor and closed the shower. The lack of water noise made her tremble but she inhaled deeply and stepped out.

 She took a yellow towel her mother had left her and dried herself with it over the small mat on the floor that was shaped like a hamburger. She liked that mat, ever since she had seen it once, one of those few times she had been able to chat with her mother over Skype. For some reason, she had shown her the hamburger mat and told her it smelled nice and that she wanted the house more fun with it. It was such a silly thing but that stupid mat was a symbol of the home Muriel wanted to go back to. Her goal was to go back home and see that mat in person and now that wish had become true.

 Walking slowly, she got out of the bathroom and walked to the closet in the next room. She had somehow done that automatically, because of a force of habit that came from years of doing so, but her true attire of the day was on the bed. Her father had gone to a special store were they specialized in pressing and cleaning uniforms. And hers now looked brand new, with every single detail in the right place. She removed the plastic and just left it there, on the bed.

 That green, that shade of color on the uniform, had always symbolized so much to her. And now, she was trying to remember what it was that she had felt the first time she had seen it. And she did remembered but, again, she couldn’t feel it. She knew that the uniform had made her and her family happy and proud. She was one of the few people she knew that had decided to join the army. The reasons were many; include the benefits in education and even health but also because Muriel had been a patriot for a long time.

 When she was just a little girl, she was the one that made her father built a small metal thing to put over the front door of the house in order to put the flag there every time there was a holiday. With time, she just left the flag there because she liked to see it move with the wind. She liked the colors and the shape and how it made her feel. Muriel liked to learn more and more about her country and her community and was really admired by many parents and teachers, not so much by her fellow students.

 But now, all of that had left her. Her patriotism had been left for dead in a horrible battlefield filled with charred cars and corpses, were the only noise was the crying of a baby somewhere. Her flag was a rag with which she had cleaned all of the blood from her hands, as well as the blood dripping from her weapons.

 Muriel put on the uniform and didn’t even look at herself at the mirror after putting it on. She just went downstairs where her parents waited for her in the car, to take her to the ceremony where she would be qualified, by all her brothers ands sisters in arms, as a “hero”.

martes, 24 de febrero de 2015

I Don't Want to Kill

   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.