Life’s Great Hypocrisy

The hills of the highlands are no longer visible, blanketed as they are with the corpses of the fallen. Some who fought for their homes others who sought to take those homes, all side by side in the sweet indifference of death. As I stare out across the expanse, words ring out in my mind yet again, promises of glory, calls to duty. Yet no duty can I see, no glory. Only the threads of life cut short by the tailor of fate using the blades of fools as his shears. Useless, unnecessary. The only victors I can see are my fellow witnesses, the vultures. After witnessing glory’s facade crumble before my very eyes to reveal the depravity underneath, did they really expect me to return to my village, find a wife, live a normal life and even toast this hateful battle? There is no way I’ll be able to go back to where and, more importantly, what I was before.

Suddenly, some movement catches my eye. Another survivor, another…enemy. My vision clouds red: he did this, caused all this senseless slaughter. At a run I snatch up the closest weapon. With a tortured cry, I jump onto him, beating him mercilessly with that armament. When I return to myself, even the sun has hidden its face from the monstrosity I have committed. The kid, no more than fifteen, grins up at me grotesquely, his skull gaping back at my mollified visage. I see my hands, red and wet. I see the gauntleted arm in my right hand, deformed almost beyond recognition but still raised as if for another potential strike. I see, even, the dark depths of my soul. The nature of which is to kill.

I ask myself: Is anyone different from me? Would any man hesitate to kill for a “good” reason?

By Carl Gervais