After the War

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Other  |  House: Booksie Classic
The emotions of a man attempting to deal with the atrocities he committed during a war.

Submitted: April 14, 2013

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Submitted: April 14, 2013

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I awake screaming. I am drowning in my own sweat and am shivering feverishly. Images from the dream dominate my mind. Colours, especially deep red, always blood red. Slowly, I crawl out of bed and go into the kitchen to make myself a relaxing herbal tea. I attempt to fight off the petrifying images that constantly stalk me. ‘The War’ had ended, yet I still had not escaped from it. Every day was another battle, an effort to hold onto any sanity that remained. How could I? I have experienced a side of human nature that I naively previously deemed as impossible. ‘The War’ torments me during the day time then follows me to bed like a relentless lover. Each night I lie awake attempting to distract myself from it, I try and fill my head with colourful, carefree and happy images, to prevent the horrifying nightmares. Nothing stops them, when I try to read the words transform and I am reminded. If I ever endeavour to watch television the flickering pictures become my deepest fear. The nightmares never stay away, I am never given a nights rest. I cannot concentrate during the day as I know they are waiting for me, any chance they get they take. They whisper to me, calling for me. I fear for the day when they are no longer just part of the night. The day, when I will permanently step into the nightmare realm.

I wait patiently for the kettle to boil, steam rises from it as it shudders fiercely. I am reminded but I shake my head vigorously and stare at the plain white wall. I focus on the colour and what it represents – peace, innocence and purity but it transforms blood red dots slowly begin to formulate. Soon the pale wale is soaked in blood. It drips from the ceiling. When I glance up in falls into my eyes and blinds me. I begin to scream but no noise diffuses as the blood clogs my air ways. I can’t breathe, I collapse into a pool of blood, beneath me. It is warm. It’s fresh. The level rises and it turns onto a rapid river. I am sucked under the current. I struggle to break the surface but I do not succeed. I am going to drown in blood but whose is it? There has been so many. So many lives I had just ended. No mercy. No second thought. Why had I survived when so many had died? People who deserved to be alive. People who had been kinder and more merciful than me. I had been ruthless and a coward.

I begin to recall the last man I had killed. My best friend. At that stage my heart was already stone. Friend or not this was war, an enemy is an enemy.  I remember the godlike power I felt. I had the ability and power to decide whether he lived or died. He was a broken man. I remember feeling smug and a better man than him for the first time ever. ‘The War’ had destroyed him, he couldn’t handle it, not like me I could.

“Please, I’m begging. I don’t want to die, not here, not like this. I want to be with my wife and son. I’m sorry please she really needs the money.” He pleaded.

I had stared him up and down as tears streamed down his face. His startling blue eyes had been begging with me, but he had been a traitor. Traitors must be punished.

“Mark please It’s me I’m your best –“

He never finished. I pulled the trigger. His body jerked and he flew backwards. He landed on the ground with a thud. Blood gushed from his broken heart. I remember watching it soak through his clothes and colour the ground underneath him. I turned around and walked away feeling no remorse at the time.

“Mark wake up” calls a familiar voice.

I wake slowly, my head is burning with agony. I can taste the metallic resonance of blood in my dry mouth. I open my eyes a double vision of my sister is staring over me.

“Are you okay?” she asks gently.

I struggle to stand up but she pushes me back down.

“You hit your head, lie down” she orders.

This is what I’ve become, from being a once great and powerful war leader to a burden on my caring, kind hearted sister. I try in vain to nod but the pain is unbearable, yet welcoming. Finally the pain eternally has become real. All the frustration I have been carrying has been released, to a certain extent. I raise my hand to my forehead and gently press on the cut, bolts of pain electrifying through me, it is pleasant. I’m suffering and it is what I deserve. My sister pulls my hand away and pins it by my side.

“Don’t touch it” she warns. “It’ll only make it worse”

It’s too late, I think. I can never retract any of it. The pain will remain forever. “Don’t think about it, kill it”, circles my brain, that’s what we were taught on our very first day of training. The people who we were killing were not classified as ‘real’ people. They were different. They were worthless. They were our enemy. In order to survive we needed to kill them before they even thought of killing us. As I rose through the ranks, I lost my conscience, through each ranks chunks of it disappeared. They had to. I no longer even looked upon my soldiers as ‘real’ people either, they were merely pawns in a chess game. They were there to protect us, to die for us and to sometimes unexpectedly take an important enemy piece. For me life was cheap. People’s lives can be taken away with a click of a finger. It doesn’t take much for someone to be pushed over the edge. My buttons had been prodded and pushed. I have done things that I am now ashamed of and regret. That I will never be able to speak aloud. I have even shocked myself with the gruesomeness of my past. Sometimes I cannot even understand how I became the man I did. I will have to live with it the rest of my life.

It was payback for the torture I had committed, dying would have been too merciful. I live as a sick and twisted, never ending joke. Each day will be a day of pain, I will be forced to remember “The War” and all the atrocities I have committed for the rest of my life. When I die my nightmares will become reality. I will be sent to hell, I do not expect anything different. I have killed, maimed and raped. Nothing could ever change that. No matter how much I apologised, it could never be enough, nothing will erase the past.

I have learnt a lot about the human race from ‘The War’, everything has a counter – attack or retaliation. We are all just murderous beasts consumed with monstrous hatred just waiting for a release. War gives this an opportunity. I have seen brothers turn against brothers, years of built up hatred just waiting to erupt, waiting for the perfect opportunity. We all have an underlying demon, some more evil and treacherous than others

My sister leads me back into my dreaded bed, resting an ice pack on my head. She kisses my forehead gently and leaves me alone. This is how I am meant to spend the rest of eternity, alone. I close my eyes and await the nightmares. I can feel them circling closer and closer until they will engulf me. This time I don’t fight them. I don’t try and hold onto any happy memories I have left. I have given up. I deserve the nightmares. I deserve to step into this real life horror film.  I welcome insanity.


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