It was so strange, to see where I was now from where I had been. Long gone were the days when I had dragged myself through mud to kill a target. Now I was under the oppressive heat in the desert sun, looking down the scope of my rifle at a distant convoy that was moving across the dusty road. As I got my sighting down on the vehicle that was suspected of having my target, it got me nostalgic about how I had gotten here. About the course of my life that led from the cold and frigid life that I led as a child in war, to being here, dressed in thin white clothes that would blend in and breathe. Had it been only ten years? It felt like an eternity.
When the war ended, there had been cheering in the streets. Fireworks, parades, a new government. It was everything that one could have asked for. That is, unless you were one of the people who had fought in the war. As quickly as me and mine were praised for our actions, we were then ostracized and hated by the culture at large. We were only children! How were we to know the political ramifications of a war?! It was so unfair, how hated all of us were. Most of us had no homes to go back to, so we were forced to get whatever jobs we could. But what task were any of us suited to do but kill? It had been all we were taught, for years. I could enter a room full of armed soldiers and with just a knife and a side-arm, I could kill each and every one of them in seconds. Not because I am strong, but because I was small and fast. Most wouldn’t even have time to react before they died. They would just be dead, wondering how and why. I could engineer explosives and use them. As had been done many times. I would be given some rigged explosives, then told to put them in specific places. All of us just followed orders. How were we to know that it wasn’t military installations that we were always attacking? That there were schools and hotels and other places that were getting destroyed? I was too young not to obey. Our commander had told us that what we were doing was the will of God.
But that didn’t matter. People hated us all the same. They hated us because we didn’t rebel or didn’t choose not to obey. Yeah, because that is exactly what you would do. If you are barely old enough to tie your own shoes, and you are given a gun and told to use it to attack people who you are given very clear understanding are there to hurt you, you would chose to disobey. Nobody cared. And since the new government wanted that precious money and aid from empires like America, they disavowed any knowledge of us. So here we were. My dearest friend, my sister in war, and I did like many – resorted to crime. We had to eat, had to sleep. Squatting in homes so dilapidated that the mice were more at home than we were, and eating whatever we could steal, or pay for if we could find some way to make money. That became our life. It was a miserable life. At least when we were soldiers, the lot of us had each other. We were family. Boys and girls who had no problem being naked or in underwear around each other while in the barracks. We were family. There were no secrets among family. Even when it was dangerous in the extreme, that connection was something that you could count on.
Many of us chose to find each other, after we were cut loose. Those who had no families or friends to return home to. We formed our another group, and we were family again. The food was not plentiful, but we had each other. Sister and I would sleep together, just holding one-another. While this wasn’t what any of us wanted, it was better than being alone. For a couple years, that was fine. However, the law started to crack down on us. They were hunting us. We were now the enemy.
One night, it came to a head. The police busted into the building we were squatting in and attacked. My soldier training took over. As did the rest. The police expected us to be fearful children. These brutish thugs didn’t expect us to attack. I took my knife and ran it across the throat of the first one who came into the room Sister and I were in. He gurgled as blood gushed out of his throat. The look in his eyes, it was one I had seen a thousand times. A look when someone knows that this is the end, and accepts their fate. They are going to die, and there is nothing they can do about it. There is peace in that acceptance. One that I knew I would get to see, one day. For all I knew, this was that day. But I was going to make them work for it. Taking the sidearm from one of the police officers, I opened fire on another. Then they started shooting at us. Not even a hint of fear, Sister and I had. I tossed her another weapon, and we took cover. What followed was a gruesome battle. We had a choke point, and the police quickly figured that out. However, they could easily reinforce and rearm their numbers, while we were most-definitely low on both numbers and bullets.
The lot of us realized that they would eventually just call in troops and that would be it. We were all about to die. I held on to Sister, not wanting to believe that I was going to die here. After all the pain and death, this was where I would meet my end? It was too ugly to think about. That’s when we heard a voice on a megaphone. It told us that if we threw down our weapons and surrendered, we would not be harmed. From one to the other, we looked at each other. There was consensus – if we stayed there and fought, we would die. So that’s when we surrendered. It meant going to a prison cell. God only knows what we going to happen to us next, but the choice was that or wait to die. We had all been there too many times before.
Hands in the air, we all marched out. We were cuffed and then thrown in the back of a wagon. I looked at Sister, and could tell that she was scared. So was I. Nothing but bad things could happen to us from here. If only I knew.
At the place where we were held, they stripped us all naked. A hose was turned on us, then we were doused in some kind of powder. We were given yellow jumpsuits, and told to go into cells. Sister and I were still together. She was crying. So was I. This was only the beginning. According to some representative, we were being taken to a prison somewhere far away. It was being run by Americans. Without a trial or the single bit of legal representation, the lot of us were now war criminals. Convicted, without a trial. What a way to go. Thrown into an aircraft, our heads were covered and all any of us could do is wait.
The prison that we were taken to was in the closest to Hell that I think of us will ever truly see. It was hot and sticky. The heat was worse than any I had experienced before. Sister was taken away. I had no idea where. Each of us was thrown into a cell, by American soldiers. Those rotten bastards. I asked them where Sister had been taken, and not one of them spoke my language. They laughed at me as they made fun of my voice. I was thrown in so hard that I busted my lip open on the floor. This was my home. One that, I had a deep-seated suspicion, I would never leave. The sound of inmates screaming became regular. This place was apparently used to house those who the Americans found a threat. Some inmates suspected that there were things being done to those here. It was something I learned from some inmates who actually spoke my language. A lot of Arabs here. More than I could count. The lot of us were here because the government in our country wanted us gone, so they made us out to be America’s enemies. It was a simple way to remove a problem. This was it, The beginning of the rest of my miserable life.
For a few weeks, it wasn’t too bad. The heat was utterly-unbearable, but I grew accustomed to it. We would be taken to the showers by the guards a couple times a week. It was almost-all older men here, but it didn’t matter. I got to see Sister! How I wished that I could show her how much I had missed her. However, we got no time alone. You’d think that a bunch of children being naked among far older men would be awkward, but there was understanding here. The prisoners saw no reason to hate or hurt one-another. We were all in this nightmare together, unable to escape. I got the occasional look from an inmate, but anyone who got out of line was quickly corrected by other inmates who would have no violation of our dignity from the rest of the inmate populace. I grew to care deeply about each of these people. So few spoke my language, but those who did got word to others. In those showers, camaraderie was forged. And there was Sister. The love of my life.
However, all as soon made so much worse. I had had my head shaved again. This was actually something welcomed. I had forgotten how long my hair could get, when left uncut. But that was where the nice things here ended. One night, my cell door opened and several guards were standing there. They were soldiers, with automatic weapons. I knew that resisting would only get me killed, and I couldn’t leave Sister like that. They grabbed me, put a bag over my head and marched me out of my cell. I was taken to a room that had no windows, and only a bed. That was where they pushed me, and when the horror began. I was stripped of my jumpsuit and then thrown onto the bed. I will spare you the details. Every piece of innocence I had was shattered. They abused me in every way one could be. I was beaten, used in so many ways. When it was over, I was covered in their seed, crying. Blood was running down my legs from where they had used me. Be it one side or the other, both got their attention. When it was done, they took me, naked still, and threw me back into my cell. That was the first night.
The next day, when I woke up, another inmate called to me. He was a kind man, younger than most. He told me that he understood my pain. He too had been subjected to the abuse of the guards. For a few years, it had gone on, until they bored of him and moved on. To me, perhaps? The inmate told me to just go to another place when they did that to me. Somewhere happy. It would make it easier. So that is what I decided I would do. I would never tell Sister of what happened. It would just be me who knew. My shame, and my pain.
Time lost all meaning in that place. I eventually stopped counting the days. Every so often, the guards would take me and do as they had done before. The blood stopped flowing as much. That was a perk. A sign that my body had adapted to what these pigs wanted. Each time, I went to a special place. I would go to when Sister and I would be holding on-another. We would kiss and be together, and that was it. I had wanted her to be my first. Sex was not a totally foreign concept, to me. I knew that one day I would want it, and I wanted it to be with her. That was all that mattered. So when the guards would violate my body in every day, I kept wondering how much of this would be like her? It made the time go by faster.
Eventually, I didn’t even give the slightest resistance. My body just went limp and would be used. I was not even alive anymore. Part of me knew that Sister suspected what was happening to me. The inmates said absolutely nothing. As a matter of fact, the looks that we had once gotten stopped once I became the victim of these nights of horror. How many others had been through this? That question got to me even more, when I saw Sister come in one day and she was limping. She was hurt. That’s when I told her. It was a quiet conversation. So quiet. We told each other everything. Like me, it had been happening to her for some time. Why did they do this to us? That’s when I remembered that day when the lot of us were on that ridge, shooting at the cars. The joy we all felt, inflicting carnage. Was that the same state as these guards? It was too horrible to think about. Now Sister and I felt even more together. I did something that before I never would have thought to do. Making sure that no guards were able to see, I kissed her. Told her I loved her. She said the same. I knew that going to this moment, when we held one-another for those few seconds before the guard returned, would help me get through the nights when I was violated.
How long had I been there? The night that it all changed was when I was being dragged out of my cell for another night. How badly would they hurt me tonight? The memory appeared again. Ready to use to get through the night. However, when the door opened, my heart stopped. Sister was there! She was naked, on the bed, clearly having been the victim of these animals needs. Her eyes were open, but glazed over. All life fell away from me. Was she dead?! If that was the case, then I was going to die with her. I’d resist, and make them kill me. Without her, there was nothing in this world that I wanted to live for. Tonight was when it ended. But then her eyes looked up at me. They were begging. Pleading with me. A silent prayer – kill me. She didn’t want to live anymore. Neither did I. My whole life had been nothing but this. War, death, pain, misery. This was where it ended. They threw me onto the bed, and she passed me something. It was long, with a deadly point on the end. How had she gotten it? Didn’t matter. They wanted us to kiss. I waited for one to approach, to force me. When he got close, I stuck the pick into his throat. There were shouts, raising of weapons. I grabbed the body of the man who I had attacked. Their bullets went into him. I grabbed his rifle. It was cumbersome, but I had handled worse. These pathetic American weapons might as well be plastic.
Taking aim, I shot the first right in his chest. The second I dropped down. He had opened fire, but was shooting high. Guess that military training didn’t account for child soldiers. American scum. I fired right between his legs. A scream as the man dropped. The third had no weapon. He was against the wall, begging in his native tongue. Without understanding, I knew the words. Pleading for his life. He wasn’t going to get it. A series of bullets into his stomach. Screaming, crying, dying. I waited, knowing that more could come. Sister slid of the bed and came over to me. She kissed me hard on the lips. I knew what it was to want someone at that moment. Sexually, I mean. I wanted her. In every way one could. So we would wait, to die.
But the unexpected happened – no one came. There wasn’t a sound. After the soldiers were all dead, it was so quiet. I got up, getting dressed. Sister got her jumpsuit on as well. It was getting stained with blood running down her legs. Mine had already become very stained. Welcome to my life here. She picked up a weapon and had my back. We had to find a way out of here. Why were no other soldiers around? There was something so ominous about the silence. Getting to the door, I opened it. That’s when I came face-to-face with a strange man. He was dressed in black. This man wasn’t an American. That much I knew without even having to look. He had a pistol in hand. It became a stand-off as we raised our rifles.
In my tongue, he said to me. “You killed the guards?”
“Good. You want out of here? I can get you out.”
Instantly suspicious. “And what is it you want from me?”
“You seem to know your way around a weapon. Obviously trained. Come join up with me. I’ll give you a wage, somewhere to live. You’ll have all the freedom you could ask for. You just do work for my company. Sound like a deal?”
Looking over at Sister, she nodded quietly. What choice did we have? It was only a matter of time before more soldiers appeared.
“Alright. Follow me.”
That was how I had met the man who became the most important person in my life. He finally gave me my freedom. Gave me the freedom to live like an actual person. We knew to keep low. The man was impressed at how well we were able to travel, and that he had gotten right his guess that the lost of us were soldiers. It was pouring down rain. This felt so familiar. Traveling in rain that was pelting us. Crawling through mud at points, but never being seen. I actually looked at Sister and smiled. She did as well. How strange that it all came full circle, isn’t it? The nights that changed our lives.
To the top of another ridge, where a helicopter came down. We got on, and it took off. Others were there. Inmates from the prison! I recognized many. Had he come to free us? Given that he was looking for us to fight for him, it was clear that he wanted troops, but that didn’t bother me. In fact, it was impressive. Stealing the enemies of his enemy right out from under their nose. Right brilliant, it was.
Toward the horizon, we traveled. Having gone from accepting death to being given an actual life. This was such a strange and wonderful day.
So here we were, in the dusty desert. My rifle was trained on the approaching convoy. Sister was next to me, getting the sighting. The convoy stopped in the town. I clicked the safety off, It was time. The sun was at my back. I was covered by an awning over what had once been a rooftop garden. It was a perfect sniper perch. There was some breeze. I corrected for that. Our target was a British officer. I had seen his picture. I wouldn’t miss. He was coming to make a deal with a local warlord. This was guaranteed to destroy the peace this country had been given. We were sent to stop that from happening. The warlord would be destroyed by his own greed. But if he had help from the British, that would ruin that.
“Target, 1500 meters,” Sister said
“Understood.” Into the radio, “Shooting solution achieved. Clear to fire?”
The crackling voice of Overwatch. “Clear.”
“Understood.” Taking in a breath, I exhaled slowly. They were standing at a doorway, talking. This was it. A crack from my rifle. Those few seconds, when the bullet moved across the desert landscape. Then, the man got hit and fell. It was right in the back. It would have blown his spine in half. He was dead before he hit the dirt. The two of us packed up fast, keeping low. We slid off the roof, heading down. We weren’t worried about being noticed. From this distance, that bullet would have been like a ghostly specter ripping the man’s back open. But we had an exfil point to get to. We would be evacuated via chopper. Another perfect assassination. This was my life now. A life that I had been trained my whole life for.
Until next time, a quote,
“It is forbidden to kill; therefore all murderers are punished unless they kill in large numbers and to the sound of trumpets.” – Voltaire