You Got Me

Dozens of them ran in the tall, rain-slick grasses, taking what cover they could, but my eyes were so well trained by this point that I don’t think I missed one of them. I spun the turret back and forth, “mowing the lawn” as Barney called it. Once one of them fired back up at me but missed. I keep at it every day, sleeping in my little bamboo tower, eating rice cakes.

The first time they took me up here and had me shooting I tried purposely to miss people. But who did I think I was, Mother Theresa? Back then I had varied emotional responses to different stimuli. Nowadays I ate a rice cake, shot some people, slept, ate a rice cake, shot people, slept, etc.

What I didn’t stick around to watch was the little scavengers who ran in there and stole from the corpses. I used to shoot them too but what’s the point? I’m here to do a job. I just hated watching them scurry about for some reason.

Today the corpses lay there in the mud, the mist hung over the reeds, but I didn’t see the little pilfering rats scurrying around. I studied the field. There were definitely piles of bodies here and there. They must have had something worth taking, if not money then some food probably. Where were those little runts?

There was a strange smell, too. Not the smell of death- I wouldn’t have even noticed that. Hell, I was 328 days in, there’d been a smell of death this entire year. No, some other smell. I discerned some black smoke rising from the mist directly below me. Peeking over I saw that, sure enough, someone had lit the tower. I even saw the gas can- not far away where the rat had tossed it. I studied the reeds. They must be watching from somewhere. Nothing. And I’d trained myself not to waste ammo unless I actually saw something. So I went down.

Lowering the ladder I scanned the swamp- if they were there they were well hid. I got down to the bottom and it was hot and flames rose up on all four columns. I rushed to a small pool of standing water nearby and used my helmet as a bucket to bring some water back and splash it on the flames. I repeated this, madly rushing back and forth. It wasn’t until I’d made the last trip and gotten the final column to stop burning that I noticed the ladder was gone. Had it fallen somewhere? No. Someone must have pulled it up. I threw my helmet back on my head, the muddy water splashing down my face.

A few seconds later they fired from above and blew one of my arms off.

But, see, there’s a reason I was hired for this job. With my shoulder gushing blood, I scaled one of the blackened columns and swung like a monkey into the sniper room. The little buggers jumped me but I got them off with some fierce kicks and elbows. Sure, I got scraped up, and one of them stabbed me pretty good in the chest, but before long I’d hurled them over the side with my one good arm. Watching them limp away I slumped over, bleeding.

I stumbled around, trying to tourniquet the wounds but it’s hard to tie a knot with one hand and I just looked like a clown. I attempted to man the gun, but was thrown to the floor when the thing exploded.

It wasn’t the missing arm, the stab near my heart, all the bleeding. No, it was seeing the gun twisted and disfigured that really did it. I’d given everything to her and to see her smoking, her metal all bent- that sent me over the edge. I started crying for the first time in 327 days. Hell, you guys got me this time. You really got me.

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