combat writing badge C O M B A T
the Literary Expression of Battlefield Touchstones
ISSN 1542-1546 Volume 03 Number 03 Summer ©Jul 2005

A Warning about Wishes

          "This is a load of crap," the soldier said with annoyance. The only responses he got were dirty looks from the other soldiers around him and a few hushes. To him this was a waste of time and an effort by the sergeant to gain favor from the officers. In his mind, he belonged at the Supply tent issuing equipment to infantry soldiers. Patrolling was their job, not his. He really wished he wasn't there.

          The sergeant held his hand up to halt the patrol. He had a bad feeling about the village that they were about to enter. The simple houses and stalls that made up the Village Square could contain a hidden enemy. In the past week a dozen shots had come from this general vicinity and he was told to root it out. Though he had the training and experience to do the job, he wished he had better men than clerks and typists.

          "What kind of infantry crap is this?" a voice behind him said aloud.

          Turning his head, he saw the speaker, one of the Supply goons. This one in particular was a major thorn in his side. All he did was complain and go on Sick Call. In the old days, he would have written the fool up and processed him for a Bad Conduct Discharge. Unfortunately, in this day and age, a shortage of men meant he had to keep the laggard. He wished the soldier wasn't here.

          The sniper crouched in his hole. Before the foreigners came, he was a man of distinction and power. One of the elite in a land filled with sheep. Now he was just a shopkeeper; a peasant who hoped no one noticed him. All it took was someone to recognize him, and jail or worse awaited him. For this reason, he joined The Cause. Now when the opportunity arose he became a freedom fighter.

          The patrol was in his sights. He saw the sergeant raise his hand. Drawing a bead on him, he prepared to eliminate a leader amongst his enemies. Then he heard a voice. One of them was talking. He often wondered what they talked about, what their lives were like. Then he would put such thoughts out of his head. Putting a face of humanity on the enemy was dangerous. If he wanted one less foreigner within his land, he would have to stop thinking of them as people. He aimed at the talkative one. He wished the soldier wasn't there.

          Everyone got their wish.

by Joseph J. DeRepentigny III
... who is a military intelligence veteran now working as a security screener; and has a dozen published pieces to his credit, including work previously published in this literary magazine.

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