|Fiction between 300 and 1,000 words|
Guidelines and Submission Form
I wanted to join the 101 Air Cavalry. My father was so proud of me when I got accepted; it was like becoming a part of history.
In Nam, we flew over a bridge near our base twice a day. A kid always waved to us from the bridge, his teeth bone-white in his brown face when he smiled. For weeks he waved and smiled. Often we asked, when we weren't flying over that bridge, “I wonder what Ho's up to now?”
We started dropping oranges down as we flew over him. He would run around, picking them up. If the oranges hit the river under the bridge, he'd go in after them and we'd laugh.
Someone was benefiting from our help. It was a fatherly feeling, like protecting a future.
One day, he was chained to a gun. I saw a flash. A GI slumped in the straps that held the guys in in tight turns. Blood slid around the floor. It looked like red paint. I wasn't expecting that colour. It was shinier than I'd ever seen it, like something artificial.
The guy died instantly.
I machine-gunned that kid in half. I sliced that kid to bits. I thought: You can’t trust them! The same kid who’d waved to us for weeks! The same damn kid we’d thrown oranges down to! The same kid who'd smiled at us for weeks! We were fighting for assholes you can’t trust!
It wasn't what it was supposed to be. And people back home were angry or they just didn't care. But they didn't know real anger. Or terror. Or how it feels to blow a kid to pieces, and how you feel when you realise that that kid would have been shot anyway by someone on the ground if he hadn't pulled the trigger.
Remaining ignorant would have been a lot easier.