Here I am...again. Second time today my unit has been ordered to this area. Orders from the top came in right as I was brushing my teeth. Was already in my onesie. Said it was urgent. Bullshit.
(more) Mission objective first time around was purely recon. This time seems like we're having ourselves a little slumber party at this forward position; I sleep better under the threat of mortar fire anyway. And what was to be my role in all of this? Point. I'm taking...fucking...point. Tippity tip of the perverbial spear. Hopefully tonight we won't be shoving this spear up anyone's ass.
Fuck this. Normally I couldn't give a shit less, but it seems like everything tonight is excruciatingly agitating. The chirping of the cicadas, the heavy breathing of my brothers, the gleam of the moon off of the high-rise windows which I keep mistaking for sniper lens flare. The cool breeze at my back seems to be my only saving grace at the moment; my somewhat silent motivation, driving me forward.
We're setting up shop for the night in a dilapidated warehouse just off the main road. I'm readying myself for first watch when I notice it out of the corner of my eye. A shadowy figure, murmuring to himself. As I step closer, I notice the blood stained uniform. Whether it was his blood or the blood of my brothers, I don't know. Can't make out what he's saying; never learned the Jap language. His tone says it all though. Regret. Sorrow. Fear.
He's staring longingly at the knife attached to my hip. Obligingly, I set the knife in his hand and turn away as he ends his life. He is at peace now and oddly, so am I. Maybe I'll get some sleep after all.(less)
I knew what I wanted from a young age. I was one of the lucky few that did.
I knew how to get it, what I needed to do to get my life exactly how I wanted it. It was all cut and dry- there were no human emotions(more) that could ruin everything. It was all machines. All numbers and codes.
I was so close to it, too. After eighteen years of school and then five of working, I was only a month away from completing everything.
And then she came along.
And he came along.
The little girl.
And the old man.
The girl that stood in the middle of the road.
The man that had eaten too many burgers.
The girl that froze when she saw the bus barreling down at her.
The man that had a heart attack at the wheel five seconds earlier.
I didn't know that, of course. I really only reacted on instincts.
And I pushed.
And I died.
And, so quickly, all that I had worked for, longed for, sweat and bled for, was gone. Poof.
The best that could be said about me, at that point, was that I had died nobly.(less)
She came to me scarred. The man referred to her as "broken". A hunting dog with a deformed nose made her seem incomplete, as if her maker had just given up, or simply had better things to do. Purchased at a charity auction, the man seem offended when I re(more)fused his offer to come to his farm and take another. "No, sir. She is not just an example. She is mine." Something in her eyes told me we were connected. This had to be.
Once home, she would never leave my side - except when I picked up a broom to sweep, or a rake for the leaves. I connected the dots. The world has no place for imperfection - especially when it's a puppy and it's your job. I knew this too, so we continued to live our imperfect lives together.
Even on the hottest summer day, she never liked to stick her nose out the window like most dogs. I like to think the rushing wind hurt her exposed sinus. I hope she wasn't embarrassed. She was not most dogs.
They say crime rises in the summertime, just like the heat. Maybe I cut him off, maybe not. So we offered up our respective birds, and I thought that was it. He; however, did not.
The next intersection, he stopped before the light even turned yellow. My palms tingled as looked for an escape route.
He was out in an instant, bat in hand. The first blow struck my fender and I remember thinking, "Why is he hitting my fender? That won't do any damage." I began to roll up my window when she leapt from the rear at the rushing intruder. Her head stuck in the window like a guillotine as he struck his second, fatal blow.(less)
Seventeen and I woke each morning with a sucking hole in my chest, a vortex pining me to the bed. My mum would bring me cups of tea and perch on the mattress. Sometimes she'd stroke my hair, but most of the time(more) she'd beg me to get up. Later, she'd beg me to stay alive but by then I was too numb to care. I wanted to leave my life, leave it to go cold like the undrunk tea.
Funny how things work out. Twenty years later and a carer helps me out of bed, feeds me oatmeal, gets me washed and dressed. I still do a little of my own hair and I can't tell you how much pride I take in those neat braids.
Much of my physical appearance has been eclipsed, of course. Most people's eyes never hit my hair, not when they get stuck on the wheelchair, the flesh that has wasted away.
"I'd kill myself if I had to live like you," one woman told me.
I want to live, I couldn't tell her. I want to live when I wake up and see the sun creeping in through the curtains. I want to live when someone else's fingers thread though my hair and massage my scalp. I savour these small pleasures, preserve them in the cells of my skin.
There are other comments too: "I don't know how you cope", the woman on the radio who so confidently declares that she wants to have a good death, one before wheelchairs and care assistants.
I didn't want to live once and everyone in the world tried to stop me dying: my mother, teachers, friends, an army of psychiatrists, talk therapists and psychologists.
where is it Where is it blood guts screams coughs pleads fear everywhere too much it's too much and I can't find it I just CAN'T FIND IT oh god god god help me--
Blue eyes so blue they look like mom's but oh oh it's just another(more) man a stranger don't know him but his eyes they're so blue and he looks nice and and no no nonono he's dead oh my god he's dead blood bloodbloodred much forgive me I have to go
where is it
can't see I can't see it hurts it hurts so much but I need to see NEED need because I have to find it so gotta suck it up and hurry have to hurry can't be not moving have to keep moving or else become gone. Everything black. nonono I don't want that NO no no fear fear fearfearfear I need to go I see it over there I see must go hurry hurry
stay down gotta stay down stay down downdown so much noise I can't hear can't see I want home oh god I just want home or anything ANYTHING better than this than nothing please god anything
pain leg it's there pain I know it but won't look can't pain please no don't want to no no pain where is it oh god where where
Please help no no come back PLEASE
can't find won't find it it's not here. Everything will soon be black I'm going to die and they will call it 'noble' but I know the truth ha ha ha it can never be found not in this not in war HA there is nothing only horror only fear only blood only madness it cannot be found(less)
We were supposed to be hiding. We were on lock-down, after all. There was a man somewhere in the high school building who had a bomb, homemade, and only big enough to blow off his own hand. Still, we were safely tucked in the corner of the large room,(more) away from the window with the door locked. The teacher was sprawled out on a bunch of chairs. He had joked about taking a nap and..well...some of us thought maybe he had actually fallen asleep.
The group of people around me had started up a hushed, morbid conversation. It started, as they always do, with a question. "If you only had 24 hours left to live, what would you do?"
The next question was: "If you could pick how you would die, how would you want to go?"
"In fire." "In ice." "I would want to take a bullet for someone." That was Becca, and I believed that she would honestly be happy dying that way.
Then it came to me. "I want to die in my sleep, comfortable in my bed, and without my noticing."
The man who was next to answer looked pointedly at me. "Well. I would want to die a noble death. Something like Becca's idea."
"Mine is a noble death," I replied, rising to his challenge. We had the attention of the group now, and Becca was looking at me with that smile of hers on her face. She knew what was about to happen. We'd had this conversation before.
"In my scenario, I'm an old woman who dies peacefully in her sleep. I have trudged through the hardships of life. Perhaps I had children, and lived to raise them well. I've struggled through the deaths of various loved ones, being there to support those of us left behind. I've done my share of work in society. I've held on to life as though it was the most precious thing in the world, even through those times when I doubted it was worth a penny, in order to serve my loved ones for as long as I am able. I'm rewarded, not with a hero's title or any form of recognition, but with the memories of smiling faces, the small beauties like sunrises and summer rains. I might never have been called a hero, but I changed lives before death took me. I eased the grief by dying quietly, and easy, a last service to those I love. Mine, in this case, is a noble death." (less)
Go up top, they said. You'll be safe there, they said.
Everybody lied to Steward Trapp, that bumbling hangar-rat from Avalon-9. I mean, how couldn't you! He was the stupidest, most gullible fresh-blood that we ever saw!
But he was one of the few me(more)n in the Resistance who would do exactly what you told him to do. He was probably the only one here who would believe whatever someone thought up to tell him, too. That's usually a good thing, but here, it was good enough to get him killed.
But maybe, y'know, it could be that one thing that made the Battle for Demon Ridge.
Screamers coming up off the downwind, Pulsars above and those goddamn Piries charging into the crevices at us. Stay put and you'd get shot by those foot soldiers, move out and Pulsars shat bombs on you.
I guess Trapp got scared like any soldier with half a brain. But one of you got the idea to tell him to get up top, he'd be safe. And he believed you, that blundering fuck.
He scrabbled up that rock like a rabid flea and made it to the top. He must've felt relieved, but maybe that was the draft from the hole in his chest from the Screamer shot. Either way, he must've been pissed outta his mind, 'cause he did something that took balls and the willingness to die.
He lobbed his entire stock of explosives at those fuckers. Blew up only one, but that one managed to blow a few more and took out a Pulsar that rested on top of the crevices. Gave us the advantage we needed, that shock. Got enough time to get ourselves together, get down the heavy shit and blast 'em to retreat.
From his early years onward, James Larsons lived under the conviction that a.) he saw the world like no other person saw it, and b.) he had an urgent obligation to express this disparate worldview to others, in one form or another. He remembered the exact moment this conviction(more) came to be, the memory opaque and monochromic like all childhood memories but still retaining its formative impact: 9-year-old Jimmy, snott dripping from his nose, standing at the edge of the playground and watching those other kids just kicking a ball back and forth, back and forth, their glee unrelenting, their faces indifferent to the cold.
Now, 26-years-old and his mind made up, James drove through his childhood town, reminisces of a life mislived littered on every corner. He passed by the old town auditorium, triggering flashbacks of his failed foray into acting, his acting style far too indulgent and anguished for a high school play; he passed the town lake, alongside he had spent countless hours scribbling morose poetry and wanderings that would all go unread; he passed the mailbox at his old house where he had received that Film School scholarship, a venture ultimately doomed by Jame's inability to work with others in such a collaborative medium.
On a normal night, these old sights and their associated failures would bog Jame's down into a fit of despair, restlessness, ineptitude. But this was not a normal day. For as he drove his Hyundai up to that bridge, letters to family and friends sitting atop his dashboard, James could only look ahead to that cathartic and merciful moment of striking water after that 300 foot plunge, that instantaneous moment when James could make certain, once and for all, that he saw the world like no other living person saw it.(less)
It's funny how we take some things for granted. You wake up every morning and you just know they'll be there, because that's where they've always been. It's only logical. Something that's stood so firmly for so long is bound to last for at least that much more time.(more)
Then a tiny bomb comes along and blows everything out of place. Imagine throwing a grain of sand into the air and whacking the Sun out of its daily route.
As befits one as proud as I was of being a Hand, I lived for that Sun just as much as I lived by it. As is written in the Book, they need us. We're instrumental in the continued harmony of all the realms, we're the executors of the Powers' work among mankind. Our name does fit us: we're their Hands.
I may not have been the greatest ever, but you'd be hard pressed to find many more devout than I was.
A grain of sand later, I want to chop off as many Hands as I can.
To be fair, all we did was on the Arms' command. To be practical, all that chopping off would amount to nothing, as men like us almost sprout from the dirt at the snap of a finger. As the saying goes, ten fingers are born for each five that fall. The Men of Law had seen to that, wise as they've always been since the beginning. As days fade away, the Powers will remain.
A man can live on despite the loss of a limb or a couple thereof, as I have made so many realize. Such noble acts. Relieved of his head, however...