SOME FICTION FOR YOUR ADDICTION
I can hear the gunfire on the beach popping off like erratic fireworks. Probably what scares me the most, the randomness of it. I’ve got an M2 Carbine in my hands and it’s shaking because they’re shaking. Thirty-five men crammed into this Higgins with me, jutting over the choppy water, and I’m one of the closest to the ramp. I'm sure they’re all as terrified as I am. They have to be. We weren't made for this.
Sheer curiosity outweighs my fear for a moment as I peer over the barrier. There are six other boats heading for land ahead of me, don’t know how many more behind but it's a force. The beach is dotted with dead men, sprawled and collapsed bodies all wearing the same uniform as I am. I spot others hiding where they can, or scrambling between cover or fear locked in place. A few look like they’re pushing through though under the dominating cliff face. I see a running body drop and go limp and pull my head back down. It’s getting too close too quick.
I don’t want to die here. What the hell am I doing, I’m not cut out for war. I'm barely cut out for football. The guy across from me, now he’s a hero. Look at him: chewing gum, stubble, dead stare. Why can’t I be like him.
This damn gun is so heavy. I don't even know who I'm fighting, I've only ever seen a Kraut in comic books. Who am I fighting for, a country that didn’t give me the choice not to?
I can feel my legs trembling. My nervous hands don’t know how to hold the rifle. Am I seasick or just weak? I don’t know, but it feels like it could come up at any second.
Damn, why am I thinking so much? The more I think, the longer it’ll take. Okay. No, that doesn’t make sense.
Come on, who am I fighting for?
It’s been so long since I’ve seen her.
Longest it’s ever been since we were born. I can feel the ring hanging around my neck. I wanted it close to my heart in case I lost my hand. Most other guys are wearing crosses. I’ll bet a lot of those bodies on the beach are wearing crosses too.
Yeah, this was the right choice. I love you bunny; I’m fighting for you. No, I’m surviving for you, so I can hold you again. Wish I could have given you a kid. Some little runt with my eyes and your laugh.
The gunfire is getting so loud, like an exchange of thunder.
Hero boy opposite me vomits. It makes me vomit. The water is getting choppier; we must be so close.
Bullets are flying overhead, I can hear them cutting through the air, pinging off hitting the boat. I hear someone get hit behind me, can’t look, can’t move, got to stay low. I lean into the ramp, knowing it’s going to go down at any moment. Both hands squeeze the gun. I need to run. When this ramp falls I need to run and jump for the nearest cover.
I love you so much, bunny. Someone starts screaming, but not out of fear. He’s preparing, he’s a lion frothing at the mouth. I need that. I need to be brave, that’s the only way I can survive this.
The bullets pelleting us and skimming our heads crescendo. The boat rocks violently. Someone yells, “Let’s get’em boys!”
The ramp falls down onto the beach and I go to leap out onto the water. I feel two hits in my chest and one in the --
‘Sorry,’ Alvin said as he jumped in the van. 'Alarm didn't go off.' He didn’t get much of a response from the others in blue coveralls as they pulled away from the curb.
‘Kid, if you’re late again, you’re out,’ Marv said as he pulled on latex gloves from the box and passed them on.
‘I said, I'm sorry,’ Alvin repeated as he took some gloves and ditched the box. He wanted to tell Marv that he didn't even want to be here. He'd be more than happy if they skipped his place every time they had a bullshit job like this. His dad would have something to say about it though.
‘Alright, he’s here,' one of the men said. 'Can we hear the damn details now?’
‘We got a shipping container full of illegals sitting at the docks. Guys that brought’em in got knicked before they could let’em out, so they been sittin’ there about a month now.’
‘Shit, that ain’t gonna smell pretty.'
‘No, it ain’t. Gonna be a two day job. We get rid of the bodies tonight, take’em to the fields. Tomorrow we go back and clean up.’
‘Who’s letting us in?’
‘Guard’s gonna leave the back gate open, but there’s somethin’ else.’
‘One of the bodies was a Yakuza boss's kid. They want him back. They already took care of the guys that fucked up and I don’t intend for any of us to be next,’ Marv said.
‘How we gonna spot him?’
‘From what they tell me, he ain’t hard to miss. Shaved head, tribal tats. We scoop him, ship him home, burn the rest. Turn here,’ Marv directed the driver to a dirt road leading around the compound. The guys riding shotgun jumped out and pulled the loose chain off the gate and waved the van through.
They rolled quietly through the lanes between shipping containers. The headlights illuminating the emptiness in front of them and the tail lights leaving a red glow in their wake.
‘Should be around here. Twenty-one thirty-three,’ Marv said as he clocked the passing containers.
The car pulled to a stop and they all filtered out. They searched the numbers on the containers until Alvin shouted, ‘over here!’
Two of them got to work on cutting the locks while the other three pulled body bags and rolls of plastic from the trailer, lining them up for efficiency.
‘Jeez. I can smell’em from out here,’ Alvin said as he squeezed on the bolt cutters, struggling to get through.
‘Tonight would be good, princess,’ Marv said. Alvin gave it everything but the lock held. He gave up, barely making a dent. ‘Move aside.’
Marv gave it a go, after adjusting his grip a couple times he managed to cut through the steel.
‘I warmed it up for you.’
‘Only thing you ever warmed up for me was my coffee.’
Marv swung the door open to darkness. He flicked on his torch and shone the light inside. He’d become desensitized to the kind of thing he was looking at, but Alvin hadn’t. He looked around in horror at the bodies piled up around the place, the blood, shit and piss pooled all over the floor and splattered across the walls.
The light landed on movement in the back corner and Marv and Alvin’s eyes went wide. They were looking at a Japanese man, tattood sleeves and a chest piece. Black eyes. He was covered head to toe in blood, old and new. He had a human arm in his hand, chewing on it like a chicken drumstick while sitting on a chair made of torsos and heads.
He looked up, free, no longer contained.
I'LL DIE, FOR NOW
I’ve died before, but this one looks bad.
The sun fades through the rippling water above me. A half-ton stone chained around my throat pulls me towards the kind of ocean floor so deep no human has ever seen it. And for what, a little bit of thievery, a little bit of murder? Grow up. This is a bit of an over reaction.
Getting shot was easy compared to this. I took a bullet to the head in ‘57, woke up in ’65, had a glass of water and continued on my way.
Took six months to recover from a blade through the heart back when Jesus was around.
Died sixteen times telling people the kind of man he really was, for I met him. The church they built on his name doesn’t find its foundations in the divine Son of God, but in a smart man and con artist. Learned a lot of from him.
Painful were my deaths at the hands of religious zealots, but not as painful as the thought of the eternity I would spend upon the floor of this ocean. Eternal fish food until the chains rusted through.
Perhaps I shall become an endless source of food for some fortunate sea dweller. Perhaps that species shall evolve around my presence for evolution exists, I have seen it. I was a tall man once, but now I find myself with a kink in my neck looking up at the majority.
I’ve drowned before but once the oxygen found its way back into my system, I awoke with a start. Like you do from a bad dream.
I dread the lack of air at the pit of my descent. The pressure on my lungs is immense. All the oxygen I have left escapes me in a torrent of bubbles. Not long left.
I have seen mankind flourish. I have seen him rape, murder, cheat and lie to materialize his will. Each generation I passed had those who believed that we would come to our senses in some future time. Learn compassion. Embrace wisdom.
But I know better because I’ve seen worse.
As long as one man can beat another man into submission, there will be the yang of human nature.
The pressure of infinite tons of water crushes upon me and everything goes black. Not the black of the unexplored ocean, but the blackness of my life taking leave once more.
I’ve contemplated that it must be some ancient cosmic blunder that forces my body to reclaim its soul upon revival. Where in another may die and they become part of the universe, my spirit is tortured to wander the cosmos until it can find its home again in this lowly vessel.
It is supposed to be that the body is temporary and the spirit is eternal.
My body disagrees. It keeps my soul at arm's length, not allowing it to go to where all the others have gone.
I open my eyes and cough up a lung full of ocean. I’ve awoken in a puddle of water no bigger than two fallen horses. My eyes adjust to the blinding desert around me.
There are no trees, no foliage, just the towering bones of old sea giants.
How long has it been, I wonder. Are there any humans left?
The chain around my throat fell to pieces. In my experience when iron turned to dust, it wasn’t a good sign. The air felt hot and barely enough and the land was scorched in every direction. The result, I would eventually learn, of colossal solar flares. The sun burped, and everyone died. I picked myself up and started began an odyssey with a single step.
How long had I been dead? I didn’t know, but the ruins I found were technologies thousands of years more advanced than anything I’d ever seen. Buildings that once floated in the clouds had crashed back down to the Earth. Robots and holograms wandered the earth aimlessly, no masters to serve, no cause to talk to each other, all built in the image of Man.
Did he make it out, I wondered as my head tilted up towards the night sky.
I visited the Library of Congress and made it my home. I blew the dust off the Internet and all the versions since then and began my study. I soaked up information on astrodynamics, astrophysics, transfer energy and every other component to do with leaving the Earth’s gravitional force. I found that the longer I lived, the quicker time passed so I wasn’t surprised when ten years flew by in what felt like weeks. Studying, training and simulations had taken me as far as I could go. It was time to leave the planet for real.
I strapped myself into one of NASA’s long-range cruisers and launched myself through the stratosphere. I’d read about the debris that orbited the Earth, like the rings of Saturn, but I was unprepared for what I found. My journey into the black turned to a dash through a minefield. An asteroid belt of aluminum, graphite and scrap. A blanket of the human footprint so thick I could barely see beyond it. Maybe we deserved to die.
I dodged left past a satellite, skimmed right over solar panels then dived under a ghost ship. I was heading for the clear when three-inch pieces of shrapnel tore through my front windshield, punching a hole the size of a piano in front of the co-pilots seat. Alarm bells rang as the air was sucked out. Death, once again, cast its line and I felt the hook catch.
I had already decided in my solitude on Earth that if I were to die in space then it wouldn’t be strapped to a coffin.
I unlatched my belt and floated outside. An icy embrace took me. Not a feeling of cold, more a removal of heat. I found myself drowning, again. I slowly spun with the cosmos sprawled around me and I wondered if this time I would ever wake up, or if I would drift aimlessly until the universe diffused.
Then, an unknowable amount of time later, I find myself here.
This diary is not meant for anything or anyone, more a means to pass the time as these Beings decide what to do with me.