The Efficiency of War
Right in the center of the battlefield, Private James Barker held his best friend Corporal Terry McCoy’s bullet battered body in his arms and screamed at the gathering smoke clouds forming above him. He shouted so loud that his voice was heard over the explosions and the rapid fire that continued.
Then rain fell in heavy, cold drops, mixing with McCoy’s blood as it marked the soil beneath Barker’s feet.
“This was my best friend!” Barker shouted as he felt the pounding rain on his wrists. “If you didn’t know who he was, let me tell you about him. He had a wife and a six month old baby girl he will never see again. They will never have him again either. This is the result of what is happening now!”
With a sudden surge of adrenaline, Barker raised McCoy’s loose-limbed corpse towards the sky. More importantly, he made it visible to friendly and enemy fire. It was a bloody battle that packed all the corners of the field.
“Fighting brings this!” He shouted.
Barker wasn’t the only soldier with a dead man in his arms. There were hundreds of others from both sides of the battlefield who were clasped by friends, grim evidence of the efficiency of war.
For a brief moment there was a silence. The silence in itself was a satisfying sound. It was during that silence when the shadows of the fallen soldiers gave their responses to the war in guttural demands of vengeance and promises of destruction. Barker couldn’t make out the faces on the shadows, but the words were clear. He felt the anger and the terror emanating from the dark spirits.
Barker looked around and saw men littered across the field as if they just fell from the sky. Some were so young it was as if a terrorist just blew up a little league baseball game. Then he wondered if Heaven had room for so many dead soldiers.
In truth, he didn’t know where they were going to end up, Heaven or Hell. Taking lives came from both sides of the field. There were no good guys or bad guys; there was just war between two nations who were exactly the same, and humans killing humans for political and religious gains and/or losses, or angry dictators who were making their presence felt.
Barker closed his eyes and thought about the leaders of nations who sit back in their chairs not once coming to a battle as they go on living unscathed. Then he wondered what he would tell his enemies on the other side of death.
Putting one foot before the other, he moved in a slow pace still carrying his friend across the battlefield. On one side and then the other, soldiers pushed out to protect him from enemy fire. Barker walked toward the enemy line without fear. In his heart he felt that his death would be their condemnation.
He made it across enemy lines and all the soldiers that were protecting his movements were lying dead in a trail that guided him there.
Barker stood in front of his enemies like Moses stood on the mountain. He dropped his best friend by his feet and spoke to his enemies. “Is this what we want? Do we want our friends to die and end up like this? Tell me, is this what we want?”
The answer to his questions were so deafening, so powerful, Barker thought that the battlefield around him might crumble. It was like being in the center of a storm, the likes of which the world had not known and no soldiers could stand against it. For a moment he thought God came down and stood behind him. Protecting him from all dangers, but that was not the case. Barker felt blood pouring out of his body. He looked down and saw bullet holes in his chest and abdomen. He slowly fell to his knees, and that’s when he felt a hot piece of lead entering his brain, and then he collapsed on top of his best friend.
For a single, astonishing moment, he thought he caught a glimpse of his lovely wife standing behind the soldiers. She seemed to be waving to him, standing proud and beautiful in the fading light…
© 2014 Frank Atanacio
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