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What is death?
I ask myself this question often. When I think about what I'm planning to do and the reasons for it. Are you ever reincarnated? Is there an afterlife?
Man struggle with these considerations everyday. We have come so far as a race, but there is much for us to learn. Despite all the advances, technologically and scientifically, that have been made, all the bridges that we have crossed, we are no closer to finding the secrets of God then we were hundreds, or even thousands of years ago. And, unfortunately, dead men tell no tales. Therefore, the only way to figure out what happens when we die is to, well, die.
Religions have their own beliefs about everything; the creation of the world, the end of existence, etc. I could list what religion in itself is about, and you’d be reading this until the world stops turning.
So why are we here?
I personally have my own thoughts. In my opinion, we are created just to find one person. Our soul mate. The other half of us that we’ve been missing our entire life.
Which brings up further questions. What happens when you find them? Are you ever really truly happy?
What about when they die?
I can answer the last one.
You have nothing left, without the love of your life. It’s like losing an arm, or a leg.
You can survive, of course.
But isn’t it better to regroup on the other side, rather then live out the rest of your days broken?
There are a lot of things that I remember.
My mind is like a book. A diary, to be more precise. A diary written in ink. Everything that enters never exits.
In other words, I can recall every word ever said to me, every quote I've ever read, every face I've ever seen.
As you can imagine, it’s a pretty big book.
That doesn’t necessarily mean that I'm smart. I'm actually the opposite. If it weren’t for this memory, I’d probably be extremely stupid. Then again, maybe God gives surprising strengths to people who don’t deserve it.
But I'm getting ahead of myself.
My name is Alexandria Adrian, but everyone just calls me Alexa. I was born in Salt Lake City, Colorado, on December 26, 2496. My mother always says that I was the Christmas present from God that got held up in the mail. Today exactly, I’m eighteen. Eighteen! I'm officially old enough to join the army.
Who are we fighting?
Well, in case you didn’t know, wars were actually stopped for a while. We went up against the French, then the Polish, and last the Scottish. Everything’s been on standstill for about three hundred years. Crazy, I know. After centuries of fighting, it all ended when the Scottish put a ban on nuclear weapons, which put a stop to the wars. How can we battle without nuclear weapons? But we’re Americans. We’ll always find a way.
Sadly, the Germans figured out the secret first.
Maybe I shouldn’t be saying this, but moondust is actually the answer. It’s simply moon rocks, ground into powder. It explodes on contact. Very, very destructive. Get it on your hand, and you’ll be writing with your toes. You don’t even want to think about what happens if you swallow it.
Sorry, I got distracted again. That’s the thing about me. I've got a low attention span, so I apologize ahead of time if I go off topic.
Where was I?
Well, we’re up against pretty much everyone this time. The Germans are illegally using nuclear weapons in their fight against the Irish, Greece and Russia are battling it out over a trade route overseas, and Canada and Greenland are pissed off at each other. Something about stealing water. I haven’t been informed about that yet.
I've been drafted to help the Irish, who are in desperate need of help. The base I’ve been directed to is the Corporal’s base, one of the most important people on our side. Why did I get such an important place? Because I come from a family of war veterans. My father’s side dates all the way back to our break from England, God knows how long ago. About eight hundred years ago. I got into the good camp, the active one, luckily for me.
The Irish did save our asses when Mexico teamed up with Cuba and tried to kill all Mexican and Cuban Americans in 2251. We owe them. Even though I would love to pick any other squad, any other place, it is the perfect location to get killed.
Am I afraid? No. My soul died long ago; now I'm just waiting for my body and mind to join it. Like my father used to say, a life lived in pain is a life half lived.
But I don’t have much to say about him.
My father, James, killed my brother, Jeremy, in the last small fight against Mexico nineteen years ago, when we were finishing them off. True, we might have wiped out all the Mexicans, leaving it a deserted peninsula...but they were trying to kill us all, every last one of them. It’s true. My father sided with the Mexicans and decapitated my brother. He can burn in hell for all I care.
Sadly, I never got to meet my brother, and his face still keeps me up at night. My mother has so many pictures of him up around the house, and I still imagine the brother I never had; what he was like, what his favorite color was, what kind of music he listened to.
My mother is devastated that I decided to join the war, but I honestly don’t care. There isn’t much left of me, and I want to use what is left of it dying for my country.
Ever since Kevin...
But I don’t want to get into that quite yet.
I'm being shipped out tomorrow. I got my guns yesterday. I might’ve gotten them three months ago, had my mother not decided to lock them up in the attic in a last desperate, frantic hope to keep me home. So I've had no practice. I told my mother that as I took the weapons, and she burst into tears, sobbing that I was going to get myself killed like my father and brother, and now I feel a little bad.
But the truth is that she can cry as much as she wants, but that doesn’t mean that she’s going to keep me from leaving.
I stopped. The book was shaking in my hand. Tears were sliding down my cheeks. Bitterly, I shut the cover and pushed it deep into my bag, slipping my pencil into the front. The book is my safe haven, my place to lock up all my thoughts and feelings as to hide them from the world. Once I’m gone, my mother will read them, and she will know all the things I could never tell her.
Quickly, I wiped my face with my sleeve and, putting on a neutral face, turned around to look at my mother.
She was watching me carefully, her expression filled with worry. Her hair was pulled into a messy bun, but her makeup was flawless and exact. There were red lines around her eyes, like she’d been crying. There was a robe thrown over her pajamas, even though it was only six
“Alexa...” Her voice was strained to the breaking point. I felt a tinge of guilt. “I really don’t want you to do this.” Then she realized what I was wearing, and her teeth snagged on her bottom lip. “Oh. You’re wearing his jacket.”
I tucked my hands into the pockets and looked away, fighting the fresh wave of sadness that threatened to overwhelm me.
“Alexa,” she said, deathly quiet. “Why are you wearing it?”
Because I miss him.
But I didn’t say it out loud. Instead, I shook my head. “I don’t want to talk about it.”
Her eyes narrowed, desperate for me to listen. “Alexa.”
“Mom,” I snapped, losing my patience with her, my temper spilling over the edge as it did so many times. “I’m leaving tomorrow. Is this how you want me to go?”
She flinched, but I had no reason to feel sorry for her. Or me, really.
As I glared, she suddenly sighed, and walked up to me. “Oh Alexa,” she whispered. “Please be careful.” I nodded, and she hugged me.
It took everything I have not to cry.
I lost sleep that night. Thinking about everything that shouldn’t be entering my mind. My fingers itched to pull out the journal and write again, but there really wasn’t anything I hadn’t already said.
He was everything to me.
I loved his smile.
He could always make me laugh.
He couldn’t cook; he burned even water.
I miss him.
Digging my nails into my palms, I turned over, struggling to get comfortable. Sighing, I sent out my prayer.
God save me.
It was all I asked for. I wanted peace, and salvation, and even death. I wanted Kevin back, and I wanted the war to end.
But this was all I would ever need.
God save me.
When I got onto the plane, I couldn’t feel anything at all. I waved goodbye to my mother, who sobbed into a handkerchief the entire time. Typical. I nodded at the fellow male and female soldiers-to-be. I double checked my bag, then reread my journal entry.
All the while, my vehemently painful loss pounded at me like rain.
And there was the fact that I was living on borrowed time, that I was walking into my death.
Perhaps it was worse that I knew what I was getting myself into. My father, and my father’s father, and even his father, had all been in war. Had all fought for their country.
And had all lost.
It was strangely comforting, and yet agony to realize that I was going to die, and that I was going to do it on purpose. All the faces here were coming to battle their enemies, to protect their people, maybe even to save themselves.
And I was going to kill myself.
Either the ride to the Irish base was extremely short, or the military was using a transporter.
The trip took a total of five minutes, thirty-two seconds. I counted. We all went into a room, and stood around, chatting. I mostly watched and listened rather then involved myself in conversation. It was easier that way.
I’d seen Ireland before, so it was no surprise what it looked like. Very big and very green. Not really very interesting.
I was assigned a squad soon after arriving. It consisted of John Rodney (Sergeant), Evan Fitzgerald (Captain), Sean Hopkins and Larry Dessaints (Riflemen), and Abe Park (Defender). I was an Aimer. The roles were really very simple; Sergeants led the group, Captains oversaw and intruded when necessary, Riflemen took down any enemy that they saw, Defenders were around in case the scene started to get ugly, and Aimers shot down gunners and/or soldiers from far away. We all use our own weapons – Sergeants; M82’s, Captains; TR22’s, Riflemen; Rifles (obviously), Defenders; Long Shots and TR22’s, Aimers; Snipers (usually the S45 models) and Machine Guns. Everyone worked together towards a common goal. We all lived, or died, as a squad.
Once we were grouped up, our Sergeants handed us each a combat pill. I stared at it for a few seconds, as the men around me drowned their fear with water. Then, almost numbly, I seized the glass of water and, popping the pill through my teeth, gulped it down. My head ached suddenly, right behind my eyes, but it was gone as sudden as it started.
“Alright.” The Corporal clapped his hands together. The Corporal was in charge of the military, and took care of incoming soldiers. “Welcome to Ireland, where the bloodshed is the worst. You are all here to fight for you honor and defend your country. Once we get you suited up, we will go to your camp, where we are planning an assault on a German camp, which we hope to take down by nightfall. The more trainees we get, the better.”
Sgt. Rodney came up beside us. “We’re in the raid.”
Rfm. Hopkins frowned at him. “Why us?”
Cpt. Fitzgerald slapped a hand across the back of his head. “Don’t question your Sergeant. You simply follow orders.”
Rodney did not comment on the small argument, or on the Captain’s actions. “Come. We’re going now to get suited, and we’re the second group to leave.”
We followed him, Rfm. Hopkins grumbling about abuse. I could’ve told him that it got worse, but I really didn’t feel like breaking the news to him. He seemed perfectly fine thinking that the military was an easily won game. I let him, for now. Once he hit the battlefields, he was going to be sorry he ever crossed the country line.
Once you were in, there was no way out. It was for life.
Or, in some cases, death.
Instantly, Kevin jumped into my mind, and I bit my lip, forcing him out. Not here, not now.
We walked down the campsite to the tents. There, Sgt. Rodney handed us our gear, and we suited up. Once we were in uniform, Rodney wrote down our information to make us dog tags. As we were lining up to get into the transporter, he handed them to us, and I strung mine down around my neck, next to an identical tag. One which bore a different name.
When...Kevin...happened, the military had sent a car. An old one, from over three hundred years ago, as customary, with a single white star on the top. My mom and I had, coincidentally, been sitting with his mother when it had pulled up. She had burst into tears when the preacher stepped out and seized my arm, sobbing that I answered it. To this day six months later, every word he said still echoes in my head.
“I'm very sorry to tell you this.”
“He was taken as a prisoner of war.”
“They sent us his dog tags.”
And his mother, his poor, distraught mother, had pressed them into my head and insisted that I had kept them. “He would’ve wanted you to have them,” she’d told me, still crying her eyes out.
There was something else there, something I didn’t even want to think about.
This time, I was successful in shoving the thought out of my head.
“Hey.” One of the Riflemen slid beside me. “I'm Larry.” He held out his hand, and I shook it. He had a soft, welcoming face. His hair was cut, nearly to the skin, like the other men. His eyes, however, were the deepest shade of green.
“Alexa,” I answered, uninterested.
“Are you nervous?” He asked me.
“No,” I replied honestly.
He studied me carefully. “Is this your first fight?”
“I'm from Wisconsin,” he said.
I wasn’t here to make friends, but he was sure as hell trying. Instead of answering, I merely nodded again and faced the transporter as the first group stepped towards it. The second the door opened, there were screams; terrible, horrifying shrieks that turned my blood to ice. My hand instinctively went to my machine gun, and I grabbed it, drawing it and sliding my finger to the trigger. The group drew back but was herded forward by their Sergeant, who, in all honesty, looked like he was going to be sick. Then they disappeared through the door.
“Whoa!” Someone in my group shouted, and I turned back to watch the Defender step back, his eyes wide with fear and panic.
“Park!” Sgt. Rodney grabbed his uniform and pulled him as the transporter doors popped open. “Let’s go!” He roared to the rest of us. We went after him with uncertain steps as the cries reached our ears once again.
Taking a deep breath, I stepped through.