A Memoir

Dec 10, 2018
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That day came into my life like it had no goddamn idea who I was.

It was routine. Ordered to investigate some ruins that had some mild activity on it. Same thing we had dozens of times already. Go in, look for any son-of-a-bitch coming through me and what I was told to do, find some scheme set against us, and deal with it as swift as we could. I remember when my men and I arrived at this unheard of desert village - same as always. There were twenty six of us, including me. The village was small, the type of small where you knew every neighbor, but so small that you had gotten sick of every single one of them as quick as you could. A church too big, a bazaar too plain, and a ton of shanties unfit for civilians. Perfect for soldiers.

We hadn’t thought a single thing about it. The place seemed desolate, aside from the occasional cowering civilian. These were people ravaged by war, and there had been no reason to put any thought towards them. It was all the same; scared and bug eyed xenos, only wanting to return to their pre-war day to day business. I had an envy for them. If they had never had to deal with us, they’d have just been simple people, with simple worries. I always dreamt of a mundane life.

Some xeno with a few too many appendages pointed us towards the aforementioned church. It twisted into the sky as much as it could, its misshapen spire a blight on what would’ve been a palpable skyline. We thanked them as well as we could, and headed towards it. My platoon had their simple banter with one another; I remained quiet as ever, proudly watching my assortment of capable young men.

We had stepped right outside the church, when I realized I had a hyperbolic need to use the restroom. We must’ve walked twenty odd miles without stopping. I told my group to head on inside, and that I’d be with them as soon as I could.

It must’ve only been thirty seconds, but every time I look back on it, I find another detail that makes it longer and longer. It feels like days in my head sometimes. I had undone my gear, and relieved myself. Juvenile, right? I took respite in the idle action of taking care of one's own business, when I noticed an especially plump young xeno hobble his way into the church, draped in a deep brown cloak that seemed to hug against his body uncomfortably.

There was something I noticed about the kid right away. Was he just fat? I could’ve only caught a glimpse of him for a moment, but it felt like there was something so off about his shape. I knew what it was just seconds after giving the thought, and I had realized that he had this strange, unnatural block-like shape. I thought to chuckle to myself for a moment, until I physically felt the entirety of my color leave my body.

I didn’t have time to shout. The second that kid had made its way into the building, my vision, and hence, my thoughts, were filled with an epic display of hatred on another living being, when that child had whatever explosive device tied to itself go off, taking the entire foundation of the building with it; killing every single one of my men inside. Some screamed. Some howled. Some laughed, even. But only one yelled my name out with such a tinge, that if I lose focus for long enough I can still feel the vibrations ringing in and out of my ears.

I can’t remember the first time I wept. But I can certainly believe that as my last. I stood there for hours next to the rubble, silently sobbing under my gear, listening to the dying groans and wheezes of twenty five good men who I had spent my life working alongside. I couldn’t have done a thing to end it for them. Nothing that wouldn’t have just made it worse. The memory creeps it way back into my heart and brain, finding a new effort and detail every waking moment it can, just to tear me down all over again.

I never knew how to hate until that day.

That day that came into my life like it had no goddamn idea who I was.

-J