Like battle weary men dragging their souls through history as far back as the written word can transcribe the experience of their victories and defeats, we struggled against what we saw. The fight had not slowed as bodies mounded to block our access to each other. Why we continued to shoot, I couldn’t say, except that we knew nothing else. Or, perhaps, we were driven by the numbness, battle fatigue, and the shock that drives emotion into a pinpoint of existence too remote to ever be focused on in time to stem the flow of physical expression. There’s a place deep within each of us that blossoms to overpower sanity. That was what I witnessed the raw edge of the sane as they stepped into an inferno where normalcy shriveled under the heat of instinctual survival.
Yet even while thinking such abstractions, I raised my weapon, pressed hard on the trigger and held it against the back of its guard until the clip ran dry. Then I scavenged a fresh clip off the remains of a dead comrade, wiped his blood from it, slammed it in place, chambered a round and fired again. I became an automaton, a man without reason, driven to live through the day at any cost to others.
When the sun settled into the piles of corpses, gunfire slowed, but did not stop completely. The air smelled of those things known only to the men and women who have experienced warfare firsthand. You breathe each breath as a last, hoping to live to see another sunrise, hoping to find an end where peace is less of an illusion. Then you awaken and start again.
Copyright 2019 Gabriel FW Koch all rights reserved