Human Nature

I stood on the pile of rubble, surveying the area. I heard gunshots in the distance. I thought—isn't it funny how we were revolutionaries, and now we're fighting rebels?

"What do you call an anti-anti-revolutionary?" I asked my companion.

He looked back at me warily.

"Is it the same thing as a Nazi?"

He just covered his face. He was a nervous guy and he looked terrible, like he hadn't slept for about a week.

"Reinhard," he said, "just shut up."

I kept trying to cheer him up, and he kept saying things like this. It had been going on for hours.

Finally, I spotted figures in the distance.

"Hey, look. It's the Major."

"They're coming over here. I have to go tell Lachen," he slid down, relieved to get away.

"You must not mistake coming with arrival," I called after him, "for that would be a fatal mistake. Although this time you could do so. With impunity. For you would be right in doing so."

He pretended not to hear me, and I turned back to the figures. The Major looked like he had some other officers with him. What did he want? It made me wonder—what were we supposed to be doing? And would we get in trouble for not doing it? Hold down the area, they told us.

Well, it wasn't like it was going anywhere.

They were getting closer and closer and I thought—they shouldn't be walking here, in a dangerous area like this. What if there was a sniper nearby? And then they'd—I barely stifled my laughter in time. My sides ached with the effort of holding it in. It hurt. It's hard for me to remember, but Sergeant Lachen told me I have to remember. When it's all right to laugh.

By the time I got control of myself, they were already there. The Major was calling everybody over.

"Get down here, soldier!" he yelled at me.

I sat down instead.

"I'm not a soldier," I called down at him.

He did a double-take.

"I'm a human being. A dreamer."

It was a nice feeling, being up there.

"Get down here!"

"No, I think I'll stay right here."

Everybody fell quiet. Lachen looked at me, horrified.

"I'm not a soldier," I told them all, "all these changes won't change me. The gold-hearted boy I used to be. I've got soul—but I'm not a soldier."

Somebody laughed.

"I've got soul," I sang, "but I'm not a soldier. I've got soul, but I'm not soldier."

The laughter spread, got louder. Even some of the officers smiled. The Major's eyes hardened.

"Get. Down. Here."

Lachen looked so distressed, I felt sorry for him. I guess there was no helping it. I jumped down.

"Come over here."

I walked over. But for the life of me, I couldn't remember—was I supposed to salute him or something?

He hit me so hard I nearly blacked out. I saw blue.

"Get up."

But he wasn't done with me yet.

"What's that on your coat."

A pin I picked up from one of those dead guys. It reminded me of somebody.

"It's the Cross of Lorraine."

He looked like he was going to hit me again.

"Sir."

"And are you aware of what that stands for?"

"Yes. It's the symbol of the Resistance."

Lachen facepalmed.

"Sir."

"So tell me. Why are you wearing it?"

It looked good with the colors—I caught myself just in time.

"I was trying to make a statement."

"A statement about what?"

"Human nature."

He looked at me more closely—and all of a sudden, something changed in his eyes. He turned away and left me alone.

"Listen up… those reporters are coming over today... you know what to say."

After he finished talking, there was a threatening pause.

"You better not make me look bad."


Notes. Basically, this is a collection of one-shots. A re-write of my story, Reinhard and some other one-shots. They're all about the titular character. They're not in any particular order, time-wise.

I've got soul... Look up the song

Cover image: Fafnir puppet from the Lyric Opera of Chicago's production of The Ring Cycle