IT was not uncommon for people this day and age to start suffering from the plague. Rendered useless by the previous excursion, high command was all but a distant memory. A memory of a world filled with order separated from chaos; we were all that was left of that world. Armed with nothing but the last remaining shipments of munitions already equipped in our rifles and the blood streaming through our veins, we waited and watched for the next move. The enemy was near and we were prepared for our last breath of glorious battle. We were waiting – not for the taste of blood – but, rather, for the sweet release of death.
With our lips glued shut and our eyes wide open, the sound of the soft downpour rang true to our ears. Yes, it was difficult to discern the enemy’s position, but by god was it liberating to hear something that wasn’t screams of mercy and terror. We looked straight ahead towards the upcoming ridge. We knew the enemy outpost was a mere kilometer from our position. But with the sun slowly setting the hillside knew nothing but glare and radiance. The sloping hill was once fruitful: blades of grass and grazing cows littering the view. Now, all that is left is the dirt and minerals that once could have sustained life.
A low rumble could be heard in the distance. They were coming. The rides of machinery spelled nothing but doom and despair for our platoon. The machines killed dozens of us in night raids – those crafty little buggers. They were never seen, however, in broad daylight before. But then again, broad daylight was soon to become part of the past. We were on their turf now. Their home town.
We bowed our heads slightly, nodding at the thought that very soon we will meet our destiny. It felt just like yesterday we were all sitting together, laughing and jeering at each other and at our previous antics. We played like schoolchildren. We loved like schoolchildren. We felt like schoolchildren. But in reality, we were just soldiers doing our damnedest not trying to get killed. Oh, how we wished to return to that fleeting memory. I could almost taste the sweetness of our own naivety of it all. How we would always be together.
How blissful it once was.
As the sun finally set behind the sloping horizon, that’s when we heard the horns. We knew they were coming. We just didn’t expect how fast it would be.
Beating our own rhythm to the impending crescendo, we raised our heads as quickly as we lowered them and charged forward.
I smiled the most genuine smile I had ever made.
And the sloping horizon smiled back.