by G MacKenzie
A quick draft of a piece that has been floating around in my head for a few months now.
|He stood motionless upon the bloodied field; the acrid smell of burning fuel and the sickening-sweet stench of burning bodies mingling in the air like jaded lovers trying for one last reconciliatory romp.
The sound of the dying pierced his very soul. Ripping and taring away the last remnants of his compassion.
There was a loud distinctive pop of ammunition cooking off in one of the many fires that back lit the stage of carnage on which he stood. pop!
He could hear footsteps approaching from behind and he knew without a doubt that it was his first Lieutenant. “A victory!” he said as he stopped to stand beside him. “They bloodied our nose a bit but we gave them hell for it!”
The Colonel's face took on a petulant stare as he glanced at the man next to him.
The Lieutenant was unable or unwilling to recognize the look on the Colonel's face. “I bet those bastards are sorry to have woken up this morning.”
“A victory?” asked the Colonel. “You think this was a victory?”
The Lieutenant's smile withered.
The Colonel spat on the ground, barely missing his Lieutenant's boots. “Half our men dead or dying and you call it victory?”
“We killed most of them and were able to run off the rest,” said the Lieutenant. His voice wavering like that of a young child. “We have some prisoners,” he added hastily.
The Colonel turned his gaze until he found the spot where three of his soldiers were guarding a small group of men. He started walking towards them.
Taken off guard the Lieutenant had to run a few steps to catch him. “A suicide mission.”
The Colonel stopped short and faced the Lieutenant. “A suicide mission. Why do you think a group of men armed with with nothing but outdated rifles and homemade bombs would attack a column of tanks?”
The Lieutenant shook his head in confusion. “I don't understand. It's clear that they are nothing more than a group of desperate peasants. Ignorant savages!”
The Colonel sighed before continuing his walk. “Desperate? Savage? I don't know.”
It was the Lieutenant's time to stop short this time. “Do you doubt your duty, Colonel?”
In the beginning he had been swayed by the words of his Furor. He had listened to the speeches and believed that his mission to cleanse the world of his enemies; to make room for the chosen was a righteous cause.
The Lieutenant caught up with the Colonel just as he came to stand above one of the prisoners.
The Lieutenant's hand gripped the gun in his holster and stared suspiciously. “Do you doubt, Colonel?”
The prisoner was on his knees staring up at the Colonel; the hatred on his face was absolute.
The Colonel's eyes narrowed as he stared into the partisan's face. “A group of peasants defending their home and their families with the same determination and resolve that I would would have if our situations were reversed.”
“What are you doing, Colonel?” asked the Lieutenant as he started to slowly remove his sidearm from it's holster.
God help me! He thought.
In one quick motion the Colonel pulled his gun and pressed the barrel against the prisoner's forehead. “My duty.”