There Ain't No Justice Number 021

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OOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO oOOOO OOOO. OOOO OOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO OOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO" .OOOOOO OOOOOo OOOO OOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO OOOO oOOOOOOO OOOOOOO. OOOO oOOOO OOOO .OOOO OOOO OOOOOOOOo OOOO OOOO" OOOO oOOOO OOOO OOOO "OOOO. OOOO OOOOo .OOOO' OOOO .OOOO" OOOO OOOO OOOOoOOOO "OOOO. oOOOO OOOO oOOOOOOO..OOOO OOOO "OOOOOOO OOOOoOOOO" OOOO .OOOO"""OOOOOOOO OOOO OOOOOO "OOOOOOO' OOOO oOOOO ""OOOO OOOO "OOOO OOOOOO |-----------------------------------------------------------------------------| | | | There Ain't No Justice | | | | #21 | | | |-----------------------------------------------------------------------------| - Above and Beyond - by Spartacus (As a rule I don't use disclaimers, but I think I'll make an exception for this file.) Disclaimer: The following is a work of fiction. Any resemblance to real persons, places, or circumstances is purely coincidental. As I woke up this cold December morning, I was for the thousandth time greeted by the cold hard staring eye of my accuser. It is ironic that an object meant to honor me and bring me pride has instead served only to torture me with its mocking gleam, to remind me of what a pitiful and despicable being I truly am, a man I would once have been ashamed to eat with. This morning I could take it no longer. I felt I must come to terms with myself, with what I have done, what I have become. I had the nightmare again last night. I sprayed bullets from the muzzle of my machine gun at enemies all around me. When I had killed them all, I turned over the nearest one and looked at his face. It was like looking in a mirror. I inspected a dozen more corpses, and they were all ME. I should not have been surprised at this. I have dreamt that dream more times than I can count. Yet each time I am surprised anew and struck with a nameless horror. Then I looked down at my neck and there hung the medal, and from it came the sound of a hideous, maniacal laughter. The corpses pulled themselves up, each a broken, lifeless copy of myself. They came for me, they tore at me with nails and teeth. The pain brought me to wakefulness in a cold sweat. I went back to sleep then, after a few drinks. I slept dreamlessly. I never have good dreams anymore. Only the nightmares, or nothing at all. I feel the thing watching me from behind. It is making the hair stand up on the back of my neck. There, I have moved it from the wall, it is lying before me. At least now I can watch it back. It still will not let me forget. I cannot shut out the memory that haunts me all my waking hours and half of the night. Those terrible months...but that one day, the day I won the medal, was worse than all the rest combined. I was a private in the Army, serving in Vietnam. In boot camp they had taught me to kill for my country, in theory. When I killed my first man I was sick for hours, but I got over it. I was still quite convinced that I was doing the right thing, being a good American, repulsing the enemies of democracy everywhere, saving more lives than I was destroying. I soon was quite contentedly stalking through the jungle, blasting away at any Viet Cong I saw or suspected. I gladly followed the orders of my superiors. Oh, I was nervous as hell. Fear was my constant companion. But it wasn't so bad. I at least believed in what I was doing. I knew my duty, and I did it. Of course, at the time, I spent a lot of time thinking to myself that war was hell. I didn't know the half of it then. Those were the simple times, that part of me still longs for even though I now know that everything I then believed was a lie. As time passed I was field promoted to First Lieutenant upon the death of a superior officer, and that promotion had been confirmed. I took pride then in leading my platoon into battle, though the reality was not anything like the ancient image of charging into battle at the head of the cavalry. In the modern way, the leader bravely stayed in the center, sending his troops ahead of him and using them to guard his rear and flanks. Most of my subordinates by that time were draftees. The volunteers had either been promoted or killed. Then came my rude awakening. Our company was trying to track down a local Viet Cong base. Some of their local leaders were known to be hiding in one of three villages. Since we wanted to capture or kill them before they could flee, the company split up. My platoon and one other were sent to the first possible village. As it was the most likely candidate, the Captain came with us. As we approached the village, we were met by about ten young men, seemingly unarmed. They blocked our path. One spoke some English. He told us that they knew what American soldiers had done to other villages and that though they would not attack us, they would not let us pass. The Captain called the other Lieutenant and I over. He said, "We don't have time to deal with this. Have the men shoot them." I had trouble believing he would really order us to shoot in cold blood. I said one of the worst possible things a soldier can say: "But sir..." "No buts! They are to be shot! That's an order!" I gave the order. The men standing straight and tall and quiet before us fell like the pack of card soldiers in Wonderland. Men lying flat, dying, piled like sticks. We walked among them, picking our steps carefully, but I think not one of us passed over without trampling on a dying human being. When we reached the village, there was havoc. Mostly the people hid in their houses. Some of the men stood outside their houses like sentries. The Captain announced he would search every house for the men we wanted. He ordered us to get it done, and to shoot anyone who violently protested. My platoon was assigned the east half of the village. I told the sergeant and he detailed men to search all the homes and the few other buildings. There was one home left over. Naturally the Sergeant and I decided to search it ourselves. It was a one room dwelling without much in the way of windows. It was quite dark inside. As I entered, before my eyes could really adjust to the dim light, I saw a figure move toward me. It was swinging something at me. I fired, heard the peculiar grunting noise many people make when they experience sudden pain. The figure collapsed before me. In seconds my eyes had adjusted. I had shot a child, I saw, a boy not more than ten years old. In the stomach. His mother, who had been huddled in the corner in fear, rushed to him and she heard his moans of pain. His face was twisted in agony. I knew he would die a slow death, no one here could take care of him except our medics, and they would never treat him. I knew that. I had to do it. What else could I do? I shoved the mother roughly away, sending her sprawling on the floor in the corner. And I shot him again, this time in the head. It was the only thing I could do for him. The woman jumped back to her feet and attacked me, screaming, raking my face with her nails. It took the full combined strength of the Sergeant and myself to restrain her. She screamed and cried and raged with the deep pain of loss, of a tragedy less than half understood. How could I explain to her, how could I tell her that it was all in the line of duty? I didn't speak her language. She wouldn't have listened anyway, or wouldn't have accepted it. Her screams and my shouts for reinforcements brought four men. I told them to hold her. I had forgotten my bloodied face until one Corporal reminded me. It didn't seem to matter even then, but I went to have a medic look at it anyway. There no injuries much more serious than mine. And no one had found any Viet Cong hiding among the villagers. My mind was elsewhere as my wounds were attended to. I began to wonder if we were really in the right. In the evening we left the village. Less than one quarter of an hour out of the village, we were met by a Viet Cong ambush, a big one. In the battle most of us were killed or mortally wounded before we fought them off. I saw my Sergeant's arm blown off by a grenade. I watched as the other Lieutenant was blown into bloody gobbets of flesh. I saw the Captain be struck by two bullets. But we won. Barely. At last only the wounded Captain, my one-armed Sergeant, a medic and myself were left. I was almost miraculously left unwounded by the assault. The others were not nearly so lucky. The medic was the least damaged of those three. He only had a superficial flesh wound on his left thigh. Besides his ruined arm, which we had to amputate at the shoulder without the benefit of anesthesia or antiseptics, my Sergeant also lost an eye. The Captain had two bullet wounds to the torso, neither of which was immediately fatal, but he would die without treatment. Since he was unconscious, I was the ranking officer. I decided we should return to the village as it was the closest place we could possibly treat our wounded and regroup. After calling one of the other platoons on the radio and telling them to rendezvous with us at the village, we set out. It was hard traveling, with the medic's bad leg and the fact that I had to carry the Captain, but we made it. Upon our arrival we were greeted by angry villagers throwing stones. Looking back on it, I understand perfectly well their motivations. And that returning to the village was a terrible tactical decision. But I wasn't thinking straight then. I threw my one remaining grenade, and the Sergeant's last two, at them. I shot the survivors down one by one. Men, women, and children. It wasn't easy. They were running at us. After the day I'd had I couldn't usually aim well enough to take them down on my first shot. If it wasn't for me, though, they would have killed us. As it was, almost everyone in that village old enough to walk was killed. The other platoon should have been there. They were waylaid by a small Viet Cong force. When they found us, I was bruised and battered by stones. But I'd kept the Captain alive, and both of my subordinates who had survived the ambush, though the Sergeant was no longer good for much and would probably be shipped back home. That's all they cared about. After some patching up and a night's rest, I was more or less myself again. Only different. I felt like shit. I'd shot women, children, men without weapons. I'd always thought fighting for your country was a noble and honorable thing to do. But where was the honor in that? And I came to wonder if killing armed men was really any different. After all, many of them had wives and families. It seemed no less a tragedy to the human race for them to die than me. I wondered what I was really doing anyway. But when the word came they were going to give me a medal for it, what could I do? I couldn't refuse. It was because I'd saved my Captain. The higher-ups didn't care either that a whole village was destroyed in the process. The whole thing made me sick to my stomach, but I went along anyway. The ceremony was a blur. All I really remember was the phrase "above and beyond the call of duty." That really did it. I couldn't even use duty as an excuse anymore. It wasn't them making me do it. It was me. I was a mass-murderer. My own choice. No one else's fault. They gave me some leave afterward. I didn't enjoy it. I spent the whole time hating myself. When I was back on duty, as a Captain myself, I just went through the motions. I was an ineffective leader in battle. They gave me a desk job. I sat through the rest of the war, filling out forms like a madman but not really able to lose myself in it. Then after the war I got my current job. I'm a paper pusher at an insurance company. Forms are all I'm really good for, it seems. I can't keep my mind on anything more demanding on the upper brain centers. I still can't lose myself in it though. I hung my medal on the wall opposite my bed. I don't show it off to the occasional visitor I get, unless he or she asks about it. That's very occasional. I'm not a very social person, now. I don't know why I keep it there. Maybe so I'll have to face it first thing in the morning, I won't have to get my first sight of it for the day while fully awake. Maybe because less people will see and ask about it there. Maybe I just don't want myself to forget it or the crime it represents for an instant. The worst thing of all is people think I'm a hero because of it. Can't they see I'm not? I'm a criminal of the worst kind! I should be in an electric chair, not an office chair! I should go to work now, but I can't. I can't face another day of this. I can't be a hypocrite, I can't pretend to be an honorable and respectable person when I'm not. I must make them see what I truly am. [On July 4, 1990, Captain Eric S. Crusher, retired, of the United States Army, entered a supermarket in Kansas City, shot all of the cashiers with an automatic pistol, and then shot himself in the head. The preceding was found by the police on the desk in his bedroom.] [>> Phoenix Modernz Inc. :908/830-TANJ <<] [>> Modern Textfiles Inc. The Matrix BBS:908/905-6691 <<] [>> The Lawless Society Inc. CyberChat BBS:908/506-7637 <<] [>> -also- <<] [>> Terrapin Biscuit Circuit:908/506-6651 <<]

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