There is blood.

Red, metallic, spreading all over; defiling, tainting.

It spreads, on the bodies that have fallen, on your hands—you stare at it, all of it, seeing what you had done.

It is painful; the air is thick and heavy with the stench of death, reeks with the stolen lives of many that have fallen by your hands. You, yours, all your doing. But it has been so many times up until now that you have realized that it—in a cruel way—is now but epiphany; the realization of what you have done....

You stole away the lives of those who dared opposed you and your deadly habit; lives of those who, like you, were but human; who, somewhere, had someone who prayed for their safety; you took their lives because they took yours, because you also tried to take theirs and actually succeeded.

Succeed.

It fills you with disgust, how it makes what you have done sound like a victory—you feel no triumph, no flush of satisfaction. You have done something no one ever should have or ever should.

Should, should not—

What do you know? You do not even know whether or not you should have done it; but to stay alive it is a necessity in the sort of life you live. But you look at your hands, see the blood there, at the traces of strain where your grip had worn down upon them.

And then you look back in retrospect, set your invisible gaze upon the chilling thrill of fighting, how you had rampaged at oncoming enemies, seeing the fierce light in their eyes change to dark despair when you cut them down—the telltale light of the living leaving their eyes, seeming to seep from them before you are obligated to turn from them to send another to the same impending fate. Again and again, you gaze up at the sky afterwards, then down at the bodies and back up again when you cannot bear seeing fallen men.

You think, in anguish and guilt, think in your mind that is paralyzed under a stream of thoughts in shock—what have I become?

Battle after battle, clash after clash.

This is reality.

What have you done?—what are you now? Do you deserve to live after you have fought for that right to breathe more than them? What makes you better than those you have felled?

What is life now that you have taken it from another?

Back at your hands, tainted with crimson from many others. You had given them pain before they were forced into oblivion. The whole time, you had to struggle to breathe; you had to see them crying silently and screaming into the air already fraught with yells.

The air is violent with silent echoes that torture you, and you only, because you are the last one standing. The haunting faces of stumbling men, who were your opponents, revealed a humanity you would never again be able to touch.

Back at your hands, streaked with blood like your setting; they will be cleaned again, but there is only so much that water can do. You know, like all those past times you have done such as you have just now...that, afterwards, you will feel your palms and fingers tingle unpleasantly like the blood is still there. They will never be truly clean again.

You are not human. You no longer deserve to call yourself such. But what were you killing for? Those that matter to you, back in your home—far, far away, also praying for you, also waiting for your return—the reason you kill. For them.

So they can live, so they will not have to do what you have done, so they are allowed to breathe the cleanest air.

Like the men you killed—

But do you care for others, others that you have never before met?

What are they to you?—you, who have people you care for, people you know.

Look up at the sky again, the sun streaming down its light to touch the dormant battlefield; and throwing all into sharp relief. This is not the end of the world, but it does not feel like so. Can you still move forward? What will you do now?

Down at the fallen bodies, up at the taunting, smiling sunlight.

You shut your eyes, wanting to block all of it out; but the horrifying exhilaration returns to your memories as your blood became ice and your brain went numb.

When will this nightmare, this hell, end?

A scream pushes up your throat, but you only sigh.

Nothing is fair in life and war.