The Boy Who Called Himself Nameless
WarAfter only a few hours on the island, the boy realized that war was a nasty business. There was no honor or glory in shooting someone. There was no dignity in frantically stabbing with the bayonet, praying that one hit was all it took. The battlefield became littered with bodies, and bits of what had been bodies - bombs having blown them to pieces. It was as if some cruel joke had been played. They boys had stepped onto the island expecting adventure, glory, justice. Instead they found that the adventure wasn’t as fun once people started dying, and that the only glory was that of a hot meal. The air was filled with the smell of death, the sound of the dying, and the sight of what had been. It was crippling to many of them. Once, Lieutenant Frank called the boy over, and asked him what he saw.
“I see death and more death.” he said.
“Navnløs.” the Lieutenant had said, a warning edge in his voice even as his tongue struggled to form the foreign word.
“I see Japanese bodies and American bodies. Death, and more death, sir.”
The Lieutenant never asked him what he saw again.
It was late, on the eve of the third day of being on the island. The moon had risen long prior, the shadows danced a silent waltz. For once, the island seemed still and calm. The boy shifted, trying to fall asleep and get a few hours rest before the sun rose and he was confronted by the burden of sight. Suddenly, like a knife, a voice cut through the dark.
“Defend, they’re on us.”
Men scrambled up, strapping boots with practiced haste, grabbing rifles and lining up to await orders. The Lieutenant gave the order, and they fired back, almost blindly. The world was filled with flashing lights as guns fired. The boy stared, half asleep still, watching the lights dance.
“Navnløs, move.” someone was shouting.
He didn’t hear, or, if he did, it didn’t connect. He only saw the lights dancing, heard the crack of guns, and the scream of bombs, so like the scream of train brakes. It came back in a flash, all of it. From a boy, thirteen years old, climbing onto a train for the first time, to the last wave goodbye as he hopped off, and watched the engine speed away. The same feeling he felt then rose up in him now, a great sadness, but on the edges, hope. The lights continued to dance, time continued to move on, but he was still, finally. He watched one light, brighter than the rest, head straight towards him, and suddenly he was hurtling backward, like a train across the flat country, hurtling, flying...