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I got lazy and just changed a few things in the army one. I liked the idea of the second story better but just didn't feel like it was coming out on paper quite as well as I imagined it would.
So, here's what I changed the army guy's story into:
I’ve been here for two long months. Doing something I never thought I would be. You see, most of us who joined the army figured we wouldn’t be shipped off anywhere.
This second month started just like the first. Filled with seemingly useless training. That was, until the war really began. Sure, the war had been going on for years, but it picked up and became serious. Those of us who believed we would never see a battlefield were equipped with weapons and thrown out on one. All of our so called training was forgotten. We were surrounded by the enemy and all we could do was sit and wait for the attack. We didn’t know what to do. A lot of the men panicked, tried to back out, and ended up dead. Our enemies were killers and we were their prey.
Some days it felt as if they were playing with us. Sending out a man to kill one of ours or be killed by one of ours. Needless to say, we lost a lot of men.
Losing soldiers did not get easier with each occurrence, if anything, each loss frightened each and every one of us, and we all knew we could have been next. After realizing that, a million questions began buzzing around. Who would care if I died? Is tomorrow an okay day to die? If I died tomorrow, will my life have been meaningful? Did I complete my life’s purpose? Where will I end up?
But today, June 15th 2013, those questions have stopped. The war has stopped. We can stop. We can go home. And according to my men, it’s all thanks to me. But it’s not.
You see, two days ago I was on patrol with my fellow bunkmate, Jim Croggs. While surveying the East side of the building I heard a rustling of leaves, this was not the wind. Because we are located in Brazil and everyone can hide behind anything in the thick, dark jungle, we are instructed to shoot at any sign of life. You should never search around for the source, that could take too long and it would give them a chance to make you the dead one. You just have to shoot.
I first noticed the noise and began contemplating whether or not I should begin shooting. During instruction, everyone believes that they will shoot; they figure their personal safety is enough of a reason to shoot into the air. And I believed, just like everyone else, that at the first sign of some other living thing, I would shoot until it ceased to move. Hopefully killing whatever it was.
But I couldn’t. I was a chicken. I thought too much about what could be making the noise. Not wanting to shoot anyone, even an enemy. Mainly, because I would feel too guilty.
It wasn’t long before the noise came again, this time louder and closer to my right side, the side Croggs was on. He heard it and reached for his gun.
It was a matter of seconds before he was in position. He shot off a few bullets and there was return fire. He and the unknown behind the curtain of leaves kept shooting while I snuck off. I couldn’t die. Not today. I had to hide. I had to live. I found a good spot and hid for half an hour.
After the firing was done and I heard no outside movements, I slowly crept out of my hiding place. When I approached my previous position, I saw something I will never forget.
Surrounding Croggs’s bullet-filled body was a group of seven men. Men that could be easily recognized as the enemy. One, surprisingly, seemed like someone I had seen before. I didn’t know how or where I recognized him from, but I knew I had seen him before.
While standing there for about five minutes, watching these strange men poke and prod Croggs’s corpse, the man’s identity came to me. As soon as I realized who was a mere four meters from me, I gasped. Luckily, the enemies were too focused on Jim and never noticed me. It was him. Their leader. The reason we had been at war. This man was responsible for everything. But why was he out on the battlefield? Why was he near our base? He must have known we patrol this area which would make it very unsafe for him. Yet, there he was.
I was still sitting on the sidelines when I heard more rustling of bushes, a man from camp walked onto the scene, saw Croggs, saw the enemy, and grabbed for his gun. He shot the leader down in a matter of seconds, but the sidekicks also squeezed off a few rounds at the same time.
Now the leader, the new man, and Croggs all lay dead. In the same area I was just at an hour previously. The enemies had run off and I worked up the courage to go out and assess the damages. All three men were dead. Jim Croggs looked like he had a shot that had killed him instantly. The leader, Andreas Gauti had just one wound, right to the center of his head, an instant kill shot. And the last man, who I soon recognized as Wally Hill from boot camp back in the states, had a large wound in his thigh and some scratches throughout his body. His blood was in a large puddle near his leg wound. He had obviously died by bleeding out.
I had radioed for help, reporting the three dead but saying that there had been more of Gauti’s disciples earlier. Many men came out to the post, men who wouldn’t normally have come. They all wanted to see, to know that Gauti was dead. At least that’s what most had wanted to do. Some were from the medical team and came to assess the damages to the three men. The remaining men were there because they were friends with Hill or Croggs and wanted to see if their friend was really dead.
The whole day had been pretty unbelievable. But what was more unbelievable was that I earned all the credit. I was known as “the soldier who ended the war”. Everyone believed I was the man who had shot Gauti, that I was brave and stood up against him, even after watching him mercilessly kill my two fellow soldiers. And I wasn’t about to correct them.
Today I am meeting the president. I am getting awards and money for ending the war. For catching and killing the bad guy. For being loyal to America. As far as everyone else knows, that is exactly what I did. But between you and me, I was a coward, a coward who watched three men die, a coward who let two men die and was lucky that the third one was killed before I myself was killed.
All I am is a coward. But no one needs to know that.
“I’m proud to announce our next guest, the man who ended the war. The man who saved our country and its future. I present to you, Soldier Paul Aarons.”
Well, that’s my cue.