Kandahar Killers

December 11, 2011
In the outskirts of Kandahar, located in southern Afghanistan near the border with Pakistan, James Scott lay awake. It was only months after the towers fell and it was Scott’s second night spent in Afghanistan. As he lies there, he noticed how intensely quiet it became at night, not that it was very loud during the day but at night it was different, the emptiness enveloped him. It made him feel insignificant, but he tried to tell himself he had done the right thing by joining the Marines and fighting the people who had killed his wife and daughter. The only thing on his mind was: “when it finally comes down to pulling the trigger will I be able to end another human’s life?”

Suddenly, the building shakes and a loud explosion stuns the lethargic soldiers, who are now running around trying to suit up. A petrified Scott clamors out of his cot, scrambling to put on his boots, and grab his rifle. James is the best sniper of his class and everyone knows it. Within minutes he is ushered onto the roof, handed a long range fifty caliber sniper rifle, and is designated a spotter. Quickly the building beneath him begins to rumble with the roar of firearms discharging. As he prepares the rifle a heavy machine gunner rushes onto the roof and sets up next to him. It is not long before the machine gun begins firing that the rugged man wielding it is shot, his lifeless body slumping over the edge of the roof. It seems an eternity to Scott, but in a matter of seconds a medic darts past him and grabs the body and drags it down the stairs. The image of the corpse forever etched into his memory.

The rifle is finally ready to fire. James sets the bipod onto the cool dewy railing, takes a deep breath, and peers into the scope; he begins searching for anything that looks hostile. Suddenly, he catches a glimpse of shadowy wraiths running around in the distant sand dunes. As he zeroes in a bullet races inches from his face, leaving a warm kiss on his cheek, due to the shear friction of the passing air. As he scans for the incoming fire, a burst of bullets strikes his spotter square in the chest. James procures a feeling of complete loneliness. He lay on the ground hyperventilating, contemplating his next move. As he saw it, he had two options: lay there and let more perish; or he could get up and take out the enemy. At that time a mortar shell lands on the roof of the building; it lay there, taunting him, it appeared fragile, as if a single grain of sand were to situate itself upon the shell the whole place would detonate.

Scott finally musters up the courage to stand; he aims down the scope, spots the target, and pulls the chilled trigger. He feels the firing pin slide forward and strike the blast cap. He peers through the scope at the spot where the “hostile” was. It was only the shadow of a dancing flag, far off in the in the early dawn light he sees now his last mistake. All at once James feels weak. He looks down and sees a warm dark red liquid gushing onto everything around him from the holes splattered across his body. Time slows; James looks up and sees the face of his murderer several rooftops away, on the primary school before he is ultimately shot again, this time through the heart.

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