It's early. It's too early and it's white here, all white, and they've taken my name away from round my neck. They said they'd keep it safe and they'd give it back when I was ready to go home. They don't understand. I tried to go home, but they brought me here instead.
They keep saying they're going to find my family, but even if they do, they won't. They can't. I don't have one, not now. I did. I was always going to be a soldier like him. I always knew. I remember when I first said to him what I was going to do and he smiled all big and happy. I've no pictures in my head of him smiling ever before that and not much after, but right then he had the biggest smile and I knew I'd said the right thing.
He told me all the time how it was going to be, what it'd be like when I went away. Sometimes he called it peace keeping, but I never got how it could be peace and war at the same time. He told me about killing people, even when I was really young he told me about it, because he wanted me to understand for when I had to do it. And I did understand. Even after I did it, I understood. I didn't understand why, like in the grand scheme of things, but from one person to another, I got it.
While I was doing it though, I understood everything. All he'd said and all I'd felt and all I'd seen in their faces, close up, right at the end. But that went away once it was done. Away with their breath, away with their eyes closing. He said to me about how some people start to feel bad about it, but he never did, and I never did, at least not the way he talked about. Maybe I should have, but I didn't. I don't know what I felt. I don't know if I felt anything.
Don't get me wrong, I didn't like it. I didn't get excited about it. Some of the ones I knew were like that. They got all itchy fingers with their guns, like they couldn't wait to point them at people. It wasn't like that for me. I don't mean I'm a better person than them, just that maybe they had reasons for doing it all that I didn't have. Or it was never about reasons at all and that's the whole point.
I saw them die in front of me, the ones I fought beside and the ones I was telling what to do. That didn't feel much different from seeing the ones die who I'd killed. After a while, dying's all the same, no matter who's doing it, no matter who's causing it. Some of the ones I was there with left before me because they couldn't take it anymore. They didn't want to get killed and they were done with killing other people. They were just done. It can do that to you. It can make you done.
And where do you go after that? How do you start looking for god when you've been wearing the face of a monster? Who are you when no-one says your name out loud anymore?
YOU ARE READING
Winter FollowsGeneral Fiction
One month, one city, five lives colliding with the forces of fate. A thrill-seeking tech genius with an appetite for dangerous extremes. A retired contract killer fighting to escape his past and himself. An underworld driver tempted deeper into a li...