I stared down my scope. Twelve men depended on me making this shot. I didn’t want to do it, but then again, I never wanted to do it. I looked to my left, and Rocky, like always, was there. He laid his head down right next to me, and I gave him a quick pat on the head. He just wagged his tail somewhat, as if he knew he couldn’t make noise. The phone next to me buzzed. Technically wasn’t supposed to have a phone on missions, and if command ever found out they’d do worse than just discharge me, but I didn’t give a damn. It hasn’t compromised the mission before, and I’ve never been caught.
I looked at the phone. It was a text"that was the one precaution I took. Only text, never take phone calls. Calling is too risky. However, so is having a dog. In fact, even being a Sergeant in a War Zone is damned dangerous, but that I really didn’t have a choice. My Conscientious Objectors Card was not accepted, and they promoted me to this level. I hadn’t even taken a life before then. Got promoted for some act of ‘bravery’. A dying soldier. I couldn’t leave him there, dying. Every bone in my body cried out against me as I rushed to get him. I ended up saving his life. They called me a hero. He called me a ‘Good Man.’ And instead of pinning a medal on me, they battlefield promoted me to Sergeant. I always hated the term, good man. People kept on calling me that, but I never understood it. I wasn’t a good man, I was just out here in some damned war zone, trying to keep whatever was left of my sanity.
The phone buzzed again. I hadn’t actually read the first text, and didn’t even bother to look at the second. I didn’t see a point, and I had to keep track of my targets. I had started to take lives afterwards, I had to. I didn’t like it one bit, but I had a choice to make, either some humans I barely know, or my fellow soldiers and friends. I was in charge of these men, and had to make sure they get back to their girlfriends, wives, boyfriends, husbands, or whatever else they were looking for at home. Never had any of the above myself. Never got around to doing it. First part of my eligible life, I spent studying and working. The next part had been spent over here, fighting. Anyways, in order to keep my men safe, I had to become the front line. I bet when they find out that I’m doing it again, they’re going to call me a ‘Good Man’, ‘Honourable’, or even ‘Batshit crazy’. The last one was the only true one. I am crazy. I only was on this mission because I got the intel, and rushed out before anyone else could join me. If only I had my packet of cigarettes, but I’m not stupid enough to light up here. That’s how the ‘enemy’ would catch me. But the main reason is that they don’t allow cigarettes to be kept in combat uniforms. No point to being caught over cigarettes if I’m sneaking a dog around.
So I don’t smoke on the missions. No matter how much it calms my nerves. And everything else. My mind raced at hundreds of miles per hour when I’m up here, going over every mistake, every life lost. It was too many. Such as Luiz. I even had to talk to his wife. She was pregnant. That one hurt. Or Wash. He liked cats. I had to find a home for three cats, who didn’t even know what was going on. I’m glad he had some friends to take them in, or else I don’t know what would happen. Or Trip. She had a boyfriend. And a girlfriend on the side. They didn’t know about each other, and I wasn’t willing to inform them. I had to go over the damned situation twice.
And there were some many others. Too many. I’m not even an officer. But I have to make those calls. Usually it’s my decision that caused them to die. It wouldn’t be right to not make the call. The phone buzzed again. I ignored it once again. My targets kept on moving forward. It felt sad to call them targets. It’s not as if they weren’t people. I remembered all those Veteran’s Days, where I would celebrate all people who would defend countries, not just my own. Aren’t they also making a sacrifice? Patriotism is fine, but once Nationalism gets involved, I generally back away. Though I couldn’t this time. The rejection of my card meant that now I have a duty to do, to watch after my fellow soldier.My phone buzzed again.
I did another scope of the area, and finally saw something that changed the parameters. Approximately a dozen meters away from my targets was a little child. I couldn’t tell if it was a boy or girl. But if I took any actions, they would probably get caught in the cross fire. It wouldn’t be pleasant. One more that I couldn’t save. Or maybe I could save them. But it would definitely endanger the mission, and the twelve lives. I looked over at Rocky, and he looked back in my eyes. The phone buzzed again. I made a decision. It was time to take action.
Abandoning my alcove of safety, I moved to lower ground. They still couldn’t see me, but I wouldn’t be protected when they do. But there was one more life to save. Rocky had followed me, even though I tried to push him away. A warzone is no place for a dog. I got in position. I still had my phone, and it buzzed one more time. I could have looked at it, but that moment might have changed everything. I was in sights, and had maneuvered so I would hit the shot. Everything was lined up. It was either read that text and possibly lose everything or fire. I fired.
And in that moment, everything went to Hell. There was a flood of bullets entering my direction. The only good news is that the kid was no longer in direct line of fire, and Rocky had fled. I had missed my shot apparently. A bullet entered into my arm. I ignored it and tried to line up another shot. I wasn’t able to do it. Bullets ripped me to pieces. My phone buzzed one more time. I fell backwards. I knew though, with certainty, that my actions had saved the twelve men by disorganizing the enemy. My phone buzzed. And my vision faded to black. Hopefully they wouldn’t call me a ‘Good Man’ at the funeral.