If everything goes as planned, this letter will find you on the morning of the twenty-fifth, 2060; on the day when the fate of twelve million people will rest in your hesitant fingers. Because today will be the day you will be commanded to annihilate the North East. As you man the battle-station, I want my voice to be your voice of reason. As your heart-oh so sensitive- pleads you to abort the mission, I want your mind to resonate with my words.
Mercy. Honour. Compassion. Hollow words, Akhetan. Hollow. They will not protect your new-born son as he is ripped from the bosom of his frightened mother. They will not shield your wife from your own comrades, who will brand you a traitor in a heartbeat. Oh no. No one will aid your parents, as their brittle fingers snap under the boots of your fellow soldiers. No one will come. And no one will drape the corpses of your family, even out of pity, as they lie rotting in a dump.
Your conscience will tell you to abort this mission. A lying, miserable thing it is, your conscience. It will advocate the righteousness of this choice by giving vain examples of ethics and integrity. But let me tell you this. Your sense of satisfaction, of virtue, will not numb the pain of a dozen needles in your arms. This integrity will not regenerate your chopped off toes. No. And don’t fool yourself into thinking you have done the right thing. Because your morality is only what years of being brought up in a certain environment has taught you. And I spit at this false sense of morality. You will too, if you deviate from your purpose. In my cell, every night after they engrave a part of my skin with obscene words, I say a prayer. I don’t pray for strength to endure the torture. I pray for death. But they won’t give me that. They will drive me to its doors and then snap me back at the very last moment. A traitor, Akhetan, is a hero only in the tattered pages of a children’s fairytale. A righteous man, nothing but a fable. It seems easy to judge what the right thing is. But what is the right thing, Akhetan? Those twelve million haven’t done anything for you. You are a stranger to them. You don’t owe them anything. But your own blood? The hands that held you as you started to walk. The eyes that look upon you with love and affection and trust. What about those people, Akhetan? Do you not owe them a peaceful life? When your fingers linger over that button today, think about them. And think about what will happen to them as a consequence of your pitiful, righteous choice.
Even now, your heart screams at you, bombards you with deplorable emotions such as guilt. How can you murder a fifth of humanity? Women, children, unborn babes yet to feel the warmth of the sun on their faces? Shut it out, Akhetan. Your heart can fill you with bravery-another despicable emotion- for only so long. But once you are branded a traitor, and you feel the heat of the branding iron on your chest, it will be your heart begging for mercy. None of which you shall ever have. A second of bravery, of honor, on your part will lead to decades of torment. Oh, you will survive of course. Survive, wishing every second for death.
This is war, Akhetan and you are a soldier. Even if you forget everything else, remember that. Remember that always. And a soldier always follows orders. How did that rhyme go, the one you were taught in school? Through gunfire and landmines and bombs, a soldier marches on and on and on…
Call me a coward. Call me heartless. But I am you, Akhetan. Your future. And I have had thirty-three years to reflect on the choice you made that day. Thirty-three years of humiliation, pain, and torment. And you know what the icing on the cake is? Not one of those twelve million came to rescue me. Not one.
I beg you to relieve me of this misery. There is not much honor left in me, but I suppose there is some in you. For my sake, I beg you to do your duty. And after that, for the sake of that honor, I beg you to die.
Yours no more,
Cheating this week because I wrote this about four-ish years ago and I’m re-uploading it (with zero edits because I’m tired and lazy). Anyway, I did start a story this week, but it kind of got derailed in the middle.
This is how it starts, guys. The beginning of the end.
This story was written as part of The Ray Bradbury Project. I’m writing one story a week for a year (or as long as I can keep it up). You can read the previous installments by checking out the tags on the right!