"Last Stand"

"Last Stand"

This is the true beginning of the war. They say that the death of our enemies' accursed "saint" was a victory for us all; they say it was the first step in the march toward glory and away from oppression. But was it really? Or did we just stir the hornets' nest? We are together in spirit, but we are still separated in small, limited task forces. We are outnumbered, and they have the technological edge. Not all of us are awakened to a power so great as to be a mortal threat to their elders.

Where is the victory for the weaker of us, who have to rely on firearms to defend our loved ones and ourselves? Where is the victory for those of us who have not found militarized fortresses of our kind for protection, those of us who could only rally together the ones who are closest to us in a futile resistance? Where is the glory for the mere children whose lives are soon to end, whose last waking moments are spent clutching rifles in anticipation?

I ponder these things as I stare out the window from the twenty-fifth floor of this ruined apartment building, my left hand and forehead pressed against the glass, brooding over events past as I watch the streets engulfed in the flames of war and revolution. I worry for the future as I watch the tyrant's armies march on the slums, hunting our kind without mercy, firing upon the fleeing innocents and blasting tank shells into already crumbling buildings.

A few young men and women have accompanied us on the retreat, and I have acted as their leader. We took shelter here, but it is turning out to be a terrible idea; however, it was either this unacceptable and temporary shelter or the hail of gunfire in the streets. Those that have survived secure the hallway while a few other soldiers and myself stand guard over the unarmed who have taken refuge in this room, the shambled remains of what was recently someone's home.

I see my own children in my peripheral vision among the terrified refugees, holding each other in fear. I sigh and wonder what will become of them. It is not long before I hear the rows of stomping boots climbing the stairs not far down the hall. The others hear it, too, and I can hear them readying their weapons. This is our last stand.

I hear the gunfire. I hear the screams and shuffling of the refugees; the screams of my children stand out to me. I hear the last of my men dying as they hold their ground. I close my eyes and shudder, shedding a tear and slowly pulling back the hammer of the revolver in my right hand. Slowly I turn and point my gun at the door, waiting for my enemy to crash through. And so they do. I see the shotgun blast splinter the wood around the lock and hear the jingling of broken metal. I hear the crunch of the shattered doorframe as a boot violently kicks in the door. And I see them, devilish and malicious, as they flow into the room in organized lines.

I do not hesitate. I fire on the first of them I see, and my bullet pierces his gas mask. He falls backward with a grunt, firing his weapon into the air with a trigger finger clenched in pain. They do not hesitate, either. I hear their weapons fire in response, and I am riddled with bleeding holes as I recoil and fall against the window, slumping to the ground and streaking red down the glass.

My vision begins to fade as I hear more gunfire, the screams of the refugees, and the clinking of grenades against the wooden floor. I hear a hissing, and the air around me is slowly filled with a yellow haze. My breath is hot, my lungs are burning…

Hope is gone for me. I am already dead, though I still breathe. What is it all for? They fear us, so they hunt us and kill us where they find us. We hate them, so we kill who we can of their numbers before we die. But when the dust settles, when the battlefield is riddled with empty shells, wreckage and ruins, when the dead outnumber the living, what will those who remain have won?

Where is the victory for the forlorn few who remain, whose livelihoods are stolen from them? Where is the glory for the survivors who mourn the dead? I fear we will realize what we have done only after we have condemned our societies to irreversible doom. I fear for my children: their lives and their immortal souls...