I stood crouched behind a hedge bordering the estate grounds. As the last ringing echoes of gun shots died away I hazarded a look around the bush. There were still a few men left standing, looking frantically around for where the shots that cut down their friends had come from. Hot steam rose from the barrel of my gun and I cursed the cold winter air. If I didn’t do something with the gun soon, the smoke would give away my position. In what was both the smartest and dumbest thing I have ever done, I put the gun, still hot from use, back in my jacket. The hot steel of the gun slowly burned its way through, into my skin. A set of nice burn scars took their place along side the mental ones I sustained that night. Knowing I couldn’t risk giving away my position with more gunfire I decided it was time for a more stealthy approach. Gritting my teeth against the pain from the burning in my chest I pulled out my knife, the blade of it blackened so as not to reflect any light. Creeping around the side of the bush I crawled slowly around the perimeter of the grounds. I hid in the few shadows left after someone in the house flooded the grounds with light. I couldn’t allow myself the luxury of thinking those lights would go off anytime soon.
How many times have I found myself in situations, by orders given me by my “superiors”, that I was forced to find some gruesome way out of? Lord knows I lost count years ago. But I can say there hasn’t been a single night since I joined this “company” that I haven’t woken up, when I manage to get to sleep at all, in the middle of the night haunted by the faces of those I’ve had to kill to save my own miserable life. “Think of the benefits. The shadowy prestige. The honor of serving your country.” I knew those were just pretty words meant to lure me into a thankless and horrifying job. Still, they did the trick. I wish now that I had listened to the voice in my head telling me to run as fast and as far from the General as I could. But I didn’t. I stood my ground, signed away my peace of mind and damned my soul forever. It would have been fitting to sign that contract in blood because that’s all I have seen these seven years since.
Resting on my hands and knees, the knife clenched tightly in my right hand, I surveyed the grounds looking for the easiest place to start. I ran all the possible scenarios through my head the way I was trained. I watched as the men left standing, joined by more from the house, searched for any sign of me. One, a tall lanky man carrying a gun that looked like it could take out a tank, quickly walked straight to where I knelt. I was sure he had seen me but at the last second he turned. I knew then this poor bastard had just made himself the next one to go. I tightened my grip on the knife, tensed the muscles in my arms and legs, and told myself this time would be the last. I would get out of here no matter what, and I would make a new life for myself. A life where the only time I would see blood was when I cut myself shaving.