War

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It opened into me with flashes. They'd warned us about such weapons, but, never in such detail as my eyes could perceive. And even then I felt limited.

The grass is parched. Dead wheat folding over curves of melted soil. The trees rise up, all ashy and dust. I can't see past them. Can't see anything except this light.

We stumbled through the fields, all but blind. Hearing everything.

Where are you? Where are you? Carlos? I'm here! Where! And the rat-a-tat-tat. It couldn't have been us. But we sound like that, and theirs don't. They mute their fire, the dull thuds the only responses audible.

But where are we? Oh, no.

This brightness! I can't get away from it. Never will. Where are you? I'm here! Where! Put, put, put, goes the engine. To back and forth alone -- no survivors to pilot it's sorry wheels.

I'm going for it.
You'll die.

I wish I knew another way. I can only sit and stew. Stew until I'm cooked alive in this hot, awful mess of blood and water. They're fighting; they're dying. And man, they make me feel awful for living.

But I can't die. Who can? He's gone, he left. It's too bad he won't live. But then again, who does?

I'll clutch this gun to my chest. Right up until the end. I know I won't shoot. Except when I taste the cylinder myself, and squeeze slow and quick.

No, no. Carlos? No. Not yet. I can hold out a little longer than that.

Even when they stand in front of me. Glowing like they do; gripping their metal with arms of white. They can feel me now, just like I feel them. I hope they feel my fear.

I hope they spare me for it. But where? Carlos!

He's dead! He's dead! He's dead!

Sobbing, and the no-no-no... no, no, no...

I hear the whine of a small turbine. Not our planes. Their tools. I see the beams cutting swaths through the dead matter. The emptiness, we call it. Not that it matters.

You jerks! You --
Gurgling, gurgling. Choke, sputter. Crying in death, in blood. Tears unrecognizable.

I see them.
They're beautiful.

The barrel feels so cold inside my mouth. I hesitate. I think. Too long.

I relish the heat across my skull; I pull the trigger.





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