Hello Hivers! Below is my entry to participate in the ninth edition of the Fiction Challenge of @TheInkWell. If you want to participate you can do so by posting your short story here.
As he boarded the helicopter, Sargent Collins thought to himself “here we go again”. After 10 years of service, he no longer understood the point of it all. He saw down the mountains and remembered when he enlisted.
It was all about patriotism, excitement, heroism. Ideals he first had which fade away over time, especially after realizing things weren’t black and white. His government was not better than the enemy’s. The so-called protection was often a cover up for political purposes. Soldiers were deployed in the battlefield and ended up killing each other, often for no real reason. Some follow liberty principles, others religion. But at the end of the day, they were all pieces of a plan made by world leaders seeking political power.
At the base, he cleaned his rifle. It got late and he tried to sleep, but he found it hard as it always was the night before a mission. Visages of their targets kept him awake, one after the other, looking at him with judgement, almost as if they were talking to him. So much blood, so much death.
The mission was to take out the men blocking the entrance of a compound in which a high ranking enemy officer was hiding, so his squad could enter.
He placed himself in the firing position. He adjusted the scope to the point of impact, 2600 feet away. Once set up, he poured water into the sand in front of him so that the muzzle blast would not kick up dust and expose his location. After getting the signal from his teammates, he pulled the trigger. The men fell into the ground as the squad entered the compound to take out the target.
The mission was successfully completed and he started to pick up his equipment. He walked down the hill for about 20 minutes.
Suddenly, a truck with rebels appeared out of nowhere. He darted toward a mud wall and hid behind it. He was not sure if they saw him. He peered over the wall and apparently, they were not aware of his presence. Then he heard steps coming towards him, but he did not risk looking over. He just grabbed his gun to protect himself but it slipped off his hand as he saw a shadow and knew there was no time.
The figure appeared in front of him, and he could see her. He was surprised. It was very uncommon to see women in the enemy’s army, let alone in the battlefield. He was shocked and blinded to find his gun.
The woman did not make a move and saw him directly into his eyes. He was captivated by her look, deep dark eyes. Only a few seconds had passed but they seemed like full minutes. It was like if time stopped just for him to appreciate her beauty. She was like a flower in the desert.
The sound of gunshots brought him to reality, as did her voice. She said what he was hoping for, "truce?", probably to avoid exposing their position, but he would have loved there was another reason. Though their position was soon to be discovered.
The rebels seemed to be searching for something. Maybe her? Or him? It didn't matter, they had to act before it was too late. She went ahead and started firing as he reached for his gun. Together , they were able to neutralize them all.
Then he wondered if her next move would be to kill him. He didn't think he could. But she did nothing. Maybe it was an opportunity to say something, and of all the lines he thought he only came up with "Please, tell me your name". She replied "Antara", then turned around and ran away.
Back in the base, he sat in the bed and took a sip of whiskey. He couldn't stop thinking about her. What were the chances for something like that to happen? Who was she? He lay in bed, tired.
A few days later he went back to business. A few of his teammates were inside a building. He saw an enemy soldier approaching the entrance, and two more about five meters behind.
He quickly took his rifle and prepared to take them down. To his surprise, one of the soldiers was the woman. He could not believe his bad luck. He did not seem able to kill the woman who spared his life and made such an impression on him. But there was a short room for doubt. His hesitation threatened the lives of his brothers in arms. He could not let that happen.
He aimed at her and felt nauseous. He took a couple of breaths to stabilize, and then placed his finger in the trigger. He was ready to take the shot. He held his breath, and pulled.
The bullet came out of the muzzle and reached the woman who immediately fell into the ground. He then moved to take the other two while they split up. He managed to hit one and when he was about to shoot the other, he saw him running towards the woman to drag her away to safety. He was relieved to know he succeeded in hitting the safe spot, so she would survive, and she did.
Finally, they retreated. He sat down to rest for a minute. And that was the moment he made a decision, "enough". He could not keep playing that game where lives have no meaning.
Eight months later the war ended. He was in his home country, and no longer part of the military. He often thought about that woman, Antara, "Beautiful name". He looked it up and it meant "heroic". It certainly suited her. His heart sank while thinking he will never see her again. Two people from two different worlds, thousands of miles apart and fighting each other. It was one of the reasons why he left the military, the idea that an enemy could potentially be the love of your life. It sounded cheesy, but it was true. If only there was a chance for them.
Looking down the horizon, he found himself in that same place where they met, this time unarmed. He took a glance ahead. This was definitely a long shot, but he had to try. The wind and the sun got his back, and his weapon was hope as he began his search for love.
Hi @lacrucita. I really enjoyed your story. It has a very interesting moral dilemma. Also, you added some rich details that make the story feel authentic and believable.
I know you intended to enter the week 9 contest and accidentally missed adding your link to the prompt post. These things happen. Please don't be discouraged. I look forward to seeing more of your writing!
p.s. One small thing to fix in your story is the woman's name. It appears two different ways. :-)
Thank you, Jayna!
That means a lot, especially now that I'm starting in this platform.
I look forward to staying in touch.
A big hug.
PD: I'll fix it, thank you!
Okay, perfect! Hugs back.