I try to see why I am here. Why I have to suffer. Is it because of something I did in previous lives? It must be, for I have no other reason. Or maybe have done horrible things in this life. Maybe this is payback for the lives I have taken. There are plenty of people who have it worse than me, always someone who has more (or in my case less) than you, although I have gotten used to the ache in my stomach and the rotted teeth in the back of my mouth. It can be hard, hiding all my life. I see people beaten and killed on the streets. I see the babies crying from the gunshots. Although I am a man and should know better, I see things that terrify me so much I don’t stop shaking for hours. It scares me because I could be next. Should be next.
She cowers in the gutter. It physically hurts me to see my brave friend brought so low, but I understand why she wants to do this. Has to do this. If she cuts off her long hair, and covers her face with mud, maybe they won’t want her. Maybe they won’t try to take her and do things that are only rumored of. A man comes up to her and grabs her face. Reaches under her rags. Winces in disgust and hits her hard enough to leave a mark. I see the spark of fury in her eyes, and silently prays she won’t do anything. She spits in the man’s face and collapses, shaking. The man in uniform slowly reaches behind him. As he brings out the sleek, black instrument that wreaks destruction everywhere, his hands seem to fail him. He trembles, and staggers back. Maybe he realizes the person he was about to kill was just a girl. Barely beyond childhood. Maybe he’s just had too much to drink. I like to believe his humanity flared up just long enough to spare the girl’s life. It makes it seem like there’s hope left after this war is over.
Lieutenant Derek Johnnson, looking up at the leaden sky, was thinking of home. The wreaths would be up by now; the small crowns of evergreen glory. The entire town would be covered in a fine dusting of snow. The kind that looked like a painting by Walter Palmer or another of those painters you don’t hear so much about. He missed the soft clanging of the church bells. He even missed the sour greetings he used to receive every morning. He might never see this village again. Now all he saw was the black smoke from the cannons. All he saw was pain and suffering. Instead of hearing the ringing of the bells, he heard loud explosions followed by cries of agony as someone’s life was altered or destroyed. And for what? For years of horror. There’s the exhilaration and thrill. And then it hits you. You just stole something far more precious than a loaf of bread or cloth. You took someone’s life. Johnnson knew this all too well, but then again, isn’t this what he signed up for? To fight for his country? Before Johnnson can think this over, he hears the shout of warning and lifts his gun. It rests on his shoulder, and his fingers curl around the well worn and familiar trigger. He hears another yell from behind him, and whips around. It’s standing there. The black shadow that has rested over the field today. It comes closer to him, and starts to engulf him He feels a warmness in his chest. The heat spreads throughout his emaciated body, and his vision clouds with red moisture. The shadow clears away the life is his eyes and he falls to join the rest.