Three weeks I’ve been in this hell hole. Three weeks since I got on a plane and woke up with sand and more sand and realised I’d left her behind for good this time. When I was there, all I could think about was being here. Now I’m here, all I can think about is getting out.
Out of this compound. Out of this room. Every minute I stay here I get weaker and they get stronger.
Everyone gets what they wanted. For my sins they gave me a mission.
“You heading into the mountains?”
The journalist had been attached to some logistics company. The kind of guy who could feel the bullets grazing his hair, but still have the stomach to put a camera to his eye and shoot. The kind of guy who’d put a green horn to shame if only he’d shoot bullets instead of film.
But that was my job. I shook my head.
“You ever spoken to the Colonel?” I asked.
He laughed. We were driving a convoy down a gravel road in fucking death’s country and he laughed. Insanity was catching.
“You don’t talk to the Colonel! You just… you can’t.” He leant forwards, head between his legs, and breathed. Hard. Slow. In, Out. He laughed again. “The man, he’s a poet warrior. He says something to you and it enlarges your mind, like he knows the answers to it all, but he’s gotta filter it, let it out little by little.
“You’ll say hi and he’ll walk past you and then bam!” he grabbed my arm in a tight vice, eyes more tightly focused than any camera lens. “‘Did you know ‘if’ is the middle word in life?’ he’d say. And he’ll throw you into the deepest, darkest corner of hell and he’d show you what doubt is. You can only trust him. There’s only him. And his army.”
The road stretched on. We didn’t speak again. He got out before we reached the foothills. I was going to the worst place in the world and the only one who didn’t know it was me. There was no going back now. Every road lead towards the Colonel, like a big chem flare burning bright in the green optics every soldier saw in.
On the road, I’d thought about the Colonel. I’d thought of nothing else. How, when I saw him, I’d follow orders like a good little soldier. Hollowpoints and burial detail.
But it didn’t happen.
“Did they say why they want you to terminate my command son?”
“It was classified.”
“Secrets. Lies. The stench of them.” He scratched his scalp. It had burnt, peeled in the sun and he looked at the flesh in his hands and saw the flakes like the bodies. “I worry that my son might not understand what I’ve tried to do here. And if I were to be killed, I want someone to go to my home.”
He stared at me, from the shadows in the midday sun.
“I want you to go to my home and tell my son everything. Everything you saw. Everything I did. Because there’s nothing I detest more than the stench of lies.”
Family. He’d broken from them. He’d left the civilian world behind and taken up arms in another mans war. And then he’d broken from the forces, become a force unto himself. Like nature.
But he stared at me.
“The horror,” he whispered.
He had broken from himself. I’d never seen a man so broken up and ripped apart.
Prompt originally posted by CursingFurball on reddit and received 3 upvotes.