In the Flashes of Images
The war was upsetting enough as David Barker wanted to give up. Blood and flesh blowing sideways as explosions were planted nearby. He struggled to maintain his balance as the earth beneath him rocked and shook. Then he swore he wasn't going down without a fight.
He would not bargain with God for his life, because it was what he deserved for killing over a hundred men in battle. He saw flesh pop and explode as their blood sprayed all over the fresh greenery of the jungle forest. He sensed his death coming and the deal was sealed. He was told to fight in the name of Democracy, and he did. He was told that giving up ones life for liberty was a generous, godly thing to do. The word his captain used was Patriotic.
Barker's sanity was crashing down around him through the Vietnam jungle. He was a killing machine without remorse. His face was stone cold as he ripped a man's head off with his bare hands. He locked his teeth and swore he wouldn't vomit as the blood sprayed his face.
He didn't want to kill anymore, but he had to. They were crowding him and he had no choice but to defend himself.
A thunderclap just above him lit the sky and stunned David Barker. He prayed that death was just seconds away. He welcomed it with open arms. He felt a certain darkness attacking his soul. He closed his eyes and thought about his family, and he hoped their images would be the last thing he sees.
His heart was racing and his stomach was in his throat. The blasting stayed in his ears, but the images of his family stayed on his mind.
Something inside him made him take cover. It wasn't the will to survive, but the not going out without a fight that carried him through the conflict. In the jungle the trees swayed and the ground was pelted with shrapnel. He heard the tanks roaring toward him and plowing over everything that stood in its way. Blood from his brothers in arms shot up and came down in red sheets that cut visibility to almost six inches in front of him. He could barely see the greenery of the forest which was covered in dark red.
Barker was looking out his front door, and first seeing nothing. Then he saw a child's bike in the yard and three garbage cans knocked over by the wind. He listened for the tanks, but there were none. He listened for the bombings, and the yelling from both sides, but he heard nothing but sounds from the night. The voice in his mind lacked calmness in which he would have preferred. There was so many things going on inside his head. However, he still had the images of his family holding on tight.
David Barker was suddenly dizzy. The bike in the yard and the garbage cans suddenly blurred. The scene of Vietnam and his front yard came and went, and at moments stood side by side. His heart pounded and his breathing had almost stopped. He grabbed the door to steady himself as he walked onto his porch. His hands shook and his knees wobbled as he walked down into the yard and stood about four feet from the bike. Sweat popped out in almost neat rows on his forehead as he fell to his knees. Barker took in a deep breath as if he were trying to collect his thoughts.
Reality kept poking at him and he ignored it for a moment. His shirt was drenched with what he thought was sweat and it stuck to his chest. He looked at his hands and it was covered in blood. He looked at his chest and it too was covered in blood.
It was reality charging back and ringing the truth into his mind. A small crowd started to gather and he stared at them furiously, almost one at a time.
David Barker just experienced his first mental crash, and it was costly. Everything started coming back and he realized he slaughtered his entire family. His wife and two children in the upstairs bedroom. His brother in the basement in front of the television, and his in-laws in the kitchen. He killed everything that moved in that house. Everything that moved.
In the flash of images he saw his entire family floating by like ghosts. David Barker's body was soaking wet and he fell face first into his lawn and vomited. He screamed as loud as he could as the images of his entire family faded and left him with nothing but terror.
© 2016 Frank Atanacio
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