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Somebody once told me, “War is Hell.” Obviously most people believe that or else it would not be a saying. People say it all the time, based solely on affected people’s accounts. I always knew that there was some truth to the statement, and not just because everyone else said so. I knew that it was terrible, that it was unimaginable.
There is, however, one flaw in the statement. War is hell when you are on the losing side. In a wide spectrum, the force with a larger group, with better weapons, with more bloodlust, is the winner. In turn, the losing side is sent into downward spiral, falling into the deepest pits of Lucifer’s domain.
That’s just in a wide spectrum. On a solitary level, from person to person, it gets deeper, more complicated. It doesn’t matter if you are on a winning side, or a losing side. It doesn’t matter if you are a spy from a side not in the war at all, or if you are a civilian going about your daily life. Everyone near that war zone, near the battle of life and death, is in hell.
Lying awake at night, your eyes glued to the ceiling above, waiting for a mortar round to come sailing into your room. Taking a leak at daybreak after a night of no sleep, yet again, only to be constantly looking out for the “enemy” to sneak up on you with a knife or garrote wire. To look over your shoulder in the middle of your night watch, vigilantly keeping a look out, just incase one of your own men, your friend, your brother, decides they want to empty a clip into the back of your skull.
I never knew how true those words were, even after two years of pointless fighting. Not until this moment. The moment I am spending on a rock, a large, blood stained, charred rock. I’m looking through my viewfinder, the small LCD screen that falls from my pointless helmet, out into the distance. I look through a rusty coloured canyon, larger than the famous one on Earth, straight into a lustful, red sun.
People may have been talking, even looking for me. I turned my radio off. I didn’t care. I understood. I understand.
There could have been many factors contributing to my “revelation.” One may have been the smell of charred flesh, a smell that none could ever forget. It may have been the rising smoke from a nearby village, it’s ground littered with bodies of native children and women, with their Flobbergend pets and their little toys. It may have been the noise the soil made as you walked across it, the sound that was almost identical to that of a wet sponge, spurting out a viscous, purple liquid the inhabitants have for blood.
My boots are covered in it. My hands are soaked with it. It’s absorbed into my mind. Their screams of terror. Their shouted pleas, that fell upon deaf ears. Their gaping mouths with yelps of pain and agony as we fired upon them, helplessly throwing their arms up to stop the incoming shards of lead. The Prisoners of War’s faces when they watched men torch the remnants of their home, as they watched the same men shoot wounded natives, even the dead ones just to make sure they stayed that way.
It has always been hell.
It may have just been one factor. I didn’t let the alien death’s bother me all that much, it was war, and their people attacked ours first. We fought back. It’s what beings do. No, I could care less if they were all wiped out. Each and every one of them shot on site.
It was at this rock. The same one I am cradled my head in my hands on, rocking back and forth, sobbing into my calloused palms. The gritty soil stung my eyes, each tiny grain making a painful presence known to my cornea. My head felt like it was going to explode. My heart had already fallen into two.
At the ground, right on the edge of my boot, laid Shelly. Shelly, my best friend, may only connection to life. The only string of humanity I was connected to since opening the letter, that damn letter! That letter that “Congratulated” me for “Becoming drafted for Inter Planetary Military Service”. I had died when I saw the looks on my parent’s faces.
I had walked though our small kitchen and straight into the living room. I saw my mother sobbing hard and uncontrollably into the crook of my father’s neck. The collar of his bright, yellow shirt was soaked to a darker gold. My mother looked up and wailed louder, trying to bury herself into my father’s skin. My father, a stone-faced man who was famous for being void of almost all emotion, tried to hold back tears of his own, failing miserably. He stood, slowly detaching himself from my mother’s famous, vice-like grip, and walked over to me. He handed me the envelope, almost forming a coherent word. His mouth, in mid-stride, crumbled to a miserable frown as he threw his arms around me and cried. I knew something was wrong. I unlatched myself quickly and pulled open the already torn envelope, removing my draft form.
You will never forget that letter. From the first “dear so and so”, to the “Congratulations on becoming an Inter Planetary Marine” at it’s conclusion, you will not forget one word of it.
That was when I thought I knew the meaning of “War is Hell.” How ignorant I was.
It wasn’t until I saw Shelly, looking up at me with her beautiful, brown eyes glazed over like a plastic doll. Her straight, coffee coloured hair disgustingly matted to her scalped, caked in blood. Her pale skin, sweetly scented of rosemary in the early morning, was no longer pretty. It was lifeless, a vanilla coating on a cadaver ice cream.
My best friend, my partner, my fiancé. Dead. They killed her. They took her from me. I could care less if they all died. If they were all wiped out on the spot.
They did nothing to stop them from killing her. She tried to save them, spoke words of how wrong it was to kill innocent beings. They killed her. Her own people, the ones who were her “family” killed her. Human beings, the ones fighting together, for the peace and harmony of the universe, killed one of their own for speaking of their wrong doings!
I could care less if they all died. If they were killed tomorrow it would not matter. In the blink of an eye it could end, I wouldn’t care.
War is Hell.
Private First Class Duke Weatherson grumbled as he moved amongst the dead bodies and rocky terrain. The smell of rotting and charred flesh filled his nostrils, almost causing him to lose its contents. But, he did not. The inhibitors in his central lobe allowed him to push past the initial, common instinct.
He was on a mission, one he did not want to be on. He had to find Sergeant Harper, Sergeant Dennis Harper.
That was his order. He dared not question it. Corporal Shelly Thaw had questioned her orders. Now, she was dead.
PFC Weatherson, while making his way through the “Valley of Death” as it was being called, began to wonder why she had spoken for the alien race. Why had she disobeyed direct orders? Why did she feel the need to speak out of turn? Why did she die?
An Inter Planetary Marine was equipped with cranial inhibitors that quickly subdued any thoughts that disobeyed, or were not deemed “correct”, the High Command. His worked fine, why didn’t hers?
Weatherson gave up his thoughts, becoming increasingly tired while trekking through the canyon. The terrain had gone from horribly rocky, to spongy. Purple goo seeped up through the clay, like grape jelly through toast. The PFC wrinkled his nose and moved on.
His standard issued boots stuck to the goo, as if it were gum. It was sickening, but the inhibitors held. His small form was failing to move swiftly through the land. Weatherson heard a gun shot.
The small PFC shouldered his own weapon, an automatic rifle, and cautiously moved towards an incline.
He walked slowly. His left foot first, followed by his right. Left, right, left, right. He came to the top, quickly leaping behind a large rock. He looked around the right flank, aiming with his iron sight to shoot first and ask later. He saw two pairs of standard issued boots, both facing different directions.
Before emerging from behind the rock, Weatherson noticed a small envelope to his left. The white paper was smeared with red grit and what looked like water. It was labeled: EARTH.
PFC Weatherson let his guard down for the moment, yet still taking one last look around the rock. He picked the envelope up and read the first sentence.
Somebody once told me, “War is Hell.”