[size=9]He said ?Son, have you seen the world?
Well, what would you say if I said that you could?
Just carry this gun and you?ll even get paid?
I said ?That sounds pretty good?
Hero of War[/size]
[size=11]End of August; 2009[/u][/i]
Speaking to a soldier, he understood why they only talked about their country. How proud they were to serve it. Why they smiled and told their families it was worth it, to serve, to protect. It was never a lie. The horrors they saw, the terrible things they had to do, they didn?t want it coming home. They weren?t proud of what they did, but they would sacrifice their own lives to ensure those tragedies didn?t land on their families? doorsteps.
Smoldering heat of the sun?s rays beat down on the soldiers. If it wasn?t the threat of bullets flying or a grenade, a surprise attack, dehydration was a lingering threat. Carter grit his teeth, blinking sweat that stung his eyes as it pooled from beneath his tan camouflage helmet. The conditions were terrible, but it was nothing compared to the war itself. The things they had to do, in the name of their country, to protect their own.
The sweat, the sand, the heat. It was completely forgotten when chaos hit. It never had to be hectic to be considered chaotic. It could be small things, one person. One moment in time that twisted a knife if your gut that you knew you would never forget, and it would haunt you for the rest of your life?
?What is that?? It?d been quiet, uncharacteristically quiet. As dust settled and the battalion of soldiers took their breathers against the walls, wiping sweat from their eyes and clutching their strongest forms of protection. For some it was guns, others it was crosses tucked beneath their uniforms.
Carter lifted his gun as movement in the distance caught his attention, his eyes squinting down the barrel of the assault rifle as he aimed it at the form masked by smoke. ?Stand down!? He barked, yelling above the noises of the others. He stepped in front of the others as they stirred and got up or pulled away from the walls, ducking behind bride and trash, fallen debris. ?I said stand down! Put down the gun!? He called, keeping behind a vehicle as he aimed around the edge at the shadowed shape of a gun aimed at the soldiers.
?...No,? he muttered, shock hitting first before the taste of bile burned the back of his throat. His hands shook on his weapon as he stared down the sights. ?Son, put the gun down!? He barked, he pleaded.
?Gun ?em!? Another soldier cried, directly behind Carter.
He ducked behind the vehicle, whipping around as he took his hand from the trigger to grip the front of the soldier?s uniform and yanked him closer. ?It?s a ****ing child! We?re not open firing on a child!?
?He?s got a gun, Carter! This is war. Our brothers come first!? The soldier barked back into Dallas? face.
?I?m not shooting a ****ing kid,? he hissed, shoving the soldier back with the release of the uniform jacket. Stepping out from behind the vehicle, he held the gun out with one hand while his free hand held up. A fool, or a desperate man clinging to humanity and hope, he started slowly toward the child who looked no more than twelve, in dirty shorts and a tee shirt, with sandals holding a gun nearly as large as him. ?Son, you don?t need to do this. Put the gun down, and walk away.?
The boy yelled something at Carter in the foreign language, and he shook his head. ?Don?t, put the gun down. Go home, get off the streets.? Please, kid.
?Carter, you ****ing idiot! Get back here or shoot him down!?
?No!? He turned his head to look to the soldier yelling at him, his expression fierce. ?He?s just a bo--?
The call instigating his attention to return to the boy with the gun, seeing him raising and aiming directly for him. ?Son, don?t!? He yelled, his free hand coming to his weapon as he took a step back. ?Put the gun DOWN!?
The boy?s finger found the trigger before the sound of a gunshot rang through the air, but it wasn?t his. It wasn?t Carter?s, who?d frozen at the thought of getting gunned down by a child.
His stomach churned as he turned away from the sight, his wrist coming to his mouth to hold back the urge to vomit on the debris-ridden streets. ?Jesus ****ing Christ,? he hissed, just to hear the woman?s scream coming from down the street. Looking in her direction, the distress on her face, the horror, the grief, it was no question the boy was hers.
And much like the boy, she had a large gun in her hand. ?Ma?am, no!? He called, just as she let out a bloody scream and lifted her gun to the soldiers, hope and resolve lost as he knew she had nothing left to lose. She open fired, and the yell of one of his own soldiers said they were hit.
He didn?t think, he just pulled the trigger.
Startling awake, his face coated with sweat and tears, his heart drumming a steady beat against his ribcage, he welcomed the pain of his wounds. It was dull in comparison to what he felt waking from that dream, which was less an unconscious mirage of meaningless images.
It was reality. His reality. His ghosts.[/size]