I sit side by side with my family. We’re cramped, we’re stressed and we’re trying our best to focus. Lined up in the back of a small aircraft racing us toward our destination, we all stare aimlessly. None of us have any spare energy to expend.

An officer talks into my earpiece. They mutter something about who we’re about to fight, something about why we’re fighting them. They mutter something about the scale of what we are about to attempt, a speech designed to pump us up, to get us emotionally involved in the war that draws ever closer. We do not care. We cannot care.

None of us care about the narrative here. None of us are capable of caring any more. We’ve all taken part in countless wars with endless weapons functionally identical to each other. Every time the top brass try and make us care about those faceless civilians whose lives lie in our hands. Every time they try and make us care about the soldiers by our side we’ve known for a matter of moments. They try and make us care full stop. I can’t be made to care. I don’t have it in me.

I’m here for one reason, and one reason only. I’m here to be dropped into a war zone, I’m here to kill, and I’m here to stay alive. Beyond that, nothing really matters any more.

I watch as a Titan falls upon a nearby drop ship. The explosion is immense, as are the sound and heat that accompany it. The voice that won’t stop talking tells me that many lives were lost. I cannot care. I’m not here to care, I never was. I try and process the spectacle in front of me as a way to imbue myself with strength for the battle ahead. I let the adrenaline course through me. I try and bottle the power over life and death, the fragility I have just been privy to. I try and find a way to use this to stay alive.

It’s nothing more to me than a way to get myself in the right frame of mind for yet another grizzly scene of war. No matter how much that voice in my earpiece tries to make me care, this is all this will ever be for me.

I leap from the ship and take to the ground, the voices are still trying to make me care about what’s happening around me. I run along a wall, jump into a broken window and start to carefully maneuver a set of corridors that could hold my killer at any spot. I try my best to tune out the voices. As much as they may be trying to help, I cannot hear them properly over the gunfire. I cannot stop to focus on them or I’ve broken the only rule I have, the rule that I have to keep moving if I want to live. I couldn’t listen even if I wanted.

In a rare moment of quiet I capture part of the dialogue from those who command my actions. There words are so far from my reality that they seem almost comical, a bad pantomime of human speech. The cadence is wrong, as is the inflection. The words they say carry no weight and are entirely hollow. Their words seem like a badly written script, something written by a board room who had thought about war as an exciting adventure more than something to be feared. I’m glad I have ignored these people, their every word feels like another joke at my expense. I’m watching those around me die, I cannot stop to indulge their tripe.

Those overseeing the battle declare our war a victory. What they wanted has been achieved, but the fight rages on and our evac ship is still almost five minutes away. In spite of that voice in my ear saying that my job is done, I know it’s far from over. I continue to fight. A time comes where the battle actually has finished, I head to the evac ship when the mission is actually over, not earlier. Those telling me what to do cannot see the realities of the fight that is our everything.

I do not listen to the voice that guides me through this war, I’d just as well jump from one fight to the next without their intrusion. The voices try to make me care. The war itself is what I care about. It’s the only thing here I can care about.

I do not ask who my gun is aimed at, I simply end the lives of those who wear a different crest.

Join the conversation! 1 Comment

  1. I like this – you did well to get all the legitimate criticism (awful dialogue/scripting etc) in a first person account without it seeming forced, as well as quite succinctly showing how all the fun stuff is happening off screen to other people.

    However, I DO think the ‘brass doesn’t care’ thing is a wee bit overstated – there’s a couple paragraphs in particular where by the end ‘care’ no longer seems like a real word.

    Nice idea though, and I’d like to see more like it.

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