Survivor's Guilt

Bullets fly overhead and ram into the stone structure that once made up a house, but now is crumbled and the only thing keeping me away from certain death. Everything seems to be moving slow. My team mates next to me all shooting back at the enemy, while with trembling hands from all the adrenaline I struggle to load another clip into my assault rifle.

We were ambushed while on patrol and were pushed back into the destroyed city we are in now. The odds are most certainly not in our favor. There is a mere ten of us against at least twenty of them. After I finally got the clip in I lean slightly over my cover to get some shots off of my own. I feel my shoulder jerk back as a bullet rams into it like a bull. I just keep firing, not even noticing the pain.

After half an hour of fighting there is only three of us left. In most circumstances surrender would be the best choice of action, but not here. These monsters just slaughter us all anyway. If I continue to fight then I am as good as dead. I get down on my stomach and just lie there, still as can be.

It was long until the firing ceased. I hear footsteps of people approaching, probably to make sure we are all dead. I hear one them talking in some language I can't understand, apparently telling a joke since everyone laughs. The desert sun pounding on my neck makes it tempting to move; it takes all my will power to remain completely still. Eventually, they moved on. I just lie there not being able to grasp what exactly happened. I lived. I lived because I am too cowardly to die fighting. The death of my brothers is my fault.

After I manage to stand up, I check on each of my brothers. I check each one; I have to be sure they are dead. I come across a couple who are so mangled up I can't even tell who they were. I collect all there dog tags and make begin the long trek back to base.

When I reach base I tell them what happened, or at least most of it. I don't tell them how played dead like a coward. I told them that we were ambushed and I am the only survivor. I give them the dog tags so they can alert the families of those who died. My commanding officer gives me permission to head to the barracks and sleep after my shoulder is bandaged.

I lie on my bed and just cry. Now that the adrenaline has worn off my feeling are hitting me full force. I let all my brothers down. I should be dead with them; but instead I live. I cry for hours until exhaustion finally takes over and forces me to sleep.

The next few days goes by in a dream like daze. My commanding officer tells me that I will be heading home. I ride in a helicopter to get to the airport where I then ride in a plane to a military base in Ohio where I am then driven home.

I open the door to my lonesome home. Before I joined the army I decided it would be best to work on romance after my tour. I just sit on my bed and think about my fallen brothers. The pain of knowing I lived while they died is excruciating. I pull my pistol out of its holster and examine it closely. I hold it up against my head and say a quick prayer for my brothers, then pull the trigger.