Private Akim Makarakesh rocked gently back and forth as mortars fell down around him. He was sobbing lightly. His sergeant leapt down nearly on top of him and bowled him over.
"Makarakesh, get up! You don't fight, you don't get your pay! Pick up your gun, you lousy Saudi!"
Still sniffing, but trying not to look quite as pathetic as he felt, he picked up his AS gun and held it in the prescribed manner.
"Now get out there and start shooting!"
Akim's face turned white with fear. He was petrified.
"I can't," he stammered out, "I'm too scared."
"Scared? Scared? What kind of a mercenary gets scared? Little children and women get scared, Makarakesh. Men do not get scared. But perhaps you are no man. Perhaps you are a swine. Fine, sit here and cry, swine!"
Despite the fact he willed his eyes with all his force not to, he began crying again.
"I can't," he choked out, "I thought when a man went onto the battlefield, he would automatically know what to do, and not be scared. But now I'm here and I'm...terrified."
The sergeant almost broke from his rugged and stony facade.
"Every man gets scared, private," he whispered so that no one but Makarakesh could hear, "But you must ignore it. Prove yourself a man. Come on. Tell no one I did so and I will stand by your side through the whole thing."
Makarakesh nodded slowly, and, wiping the mucus from his nose, followed his sergeant into battle. The Egyptians were all around.
"I can't," he whispered so that not even he could hear it, "They're going to kill me."
"Easy men!" yelled out the sergeant, "We'll be paid well for this easy work!"
Yelling in an indecipherable mish mash of Middle Eastern languages, the mercenary forces pushed forward, slowly wading deeper into Egyptian territory. Akim Makarakesh watched them, but could not follow.
"Mother," he whimpered, "Mother."
The private couldn't take it any more. He'd been with the mercenaries for months now, training and doing menial jobs. He'd never yet come under fire. There had been no idea in his mind he would break under the pressure like this. It was no harder physically than carrying water or pulling a load of ammunition to the front. It was different, somehow.
He suddenly no longer cared about his life, except to hope that no Egyptian would take it. He'd heard about being shell-shocked, how you lost all sensibility, but had never understood it, and, even now, while he was experiencing it, he still didn't understand it. The desperation to save his own life had driven him to want to take it himself.
In a split second when the sergeant had turned away from Makarakesh, who looked to be growing accustomed to the battle, he put his AS gun into his own mouth. The sergeant had run a few meters away to engage a single Egyptian. He turned around again.
"Bismillah, why? Bismillah, why?" sobbed Makarakesh.
The tears left marks on his sand covered face.
Running toward him, the sergeant screamed, "Makarakesh, don't! Don't do it, you bastard!"
But Akim couldnt hear him. He had already pulled the trigger.
"Manuscripts don't burn"
- Mikhail Bulgakov
Hi, I'm horror and science fiction author Steve Kozeniewski (pronounced: "causin' ooze key.") Welcome to my blog! You can also find me on Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads, and Amazon. You can e-mail me here, join my mailing list here, or request an e-autograph here. Free on this site you can listen to me recite one of my own short works, "The Thing Under the Bed."
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