I've been wanting to do this post or a week now, but work and procrastination has continually obstructed any attempt. That's ok, I'm doing it now so that makes it all better, I hope. Unfortunately this short story is going to be of the dreadfully common sci fi genre. I'm pretty sure every teenager went through that phase where they wrote a 214 000 word scifi/fantasy novelette. Fortunately for me, the floppy I used to store the story on became corrupted as did my dream of ever becoming a writer (well apart from the fact that my father seemed to think that "writer" and "homosexual" shared the same definition in the dictionary).
On the plus side though, I have learnt a thing or two since high school even though I haven't written anything but laboratory reports and technically inclined essays since. And that little nifty tool is to write about emotional responses instead of just a linear course of actions by two dimensional characters. And so without any further adieu, allow me to introduce you to the gman's first online short story...
death, retreat, kill them all, gushing..blood, severed...heads, Victory
..and then a commanding voice as if shouted across galaxies: THAT WILL DO
He opened his eyes slowly. It was as if sandbags were weighing them down. His dream was still real in his head and playing across his mind haphazardly like a film reel with coffee stains blurring out every second frame. 8 hours... He couldn't remember all of it, nobody in their right sane mind could. But he definitely remembered the recurring themes throughout.
The deaths... billions of living beings slaughtered by his order. You can't empathise with that, and you cannot mourn for millions... sooner or later they all become a statistic and the only death you can empathise with is the death of your own compassion.
The retreats...Sometimes you had no choice but to flee. Strategically it sometimes made the best sense, but try convincing your comrades that. Every retreat he partook he had to fight the rising tsunami of hopelessness and humiliation that became pandemic across the ranks. It was infectious and the general had no immunity to the plague.
"Kill them all," a phrase uttered so callously by himself so many times. When it wasn't him but the enemy doing the retreating he would scheme to turn the retreat into a rout. Masochism would turn to sadism as he avenged his own emotions and projected them on others. Viciously his heart aligned with his mind, for it always made good sense to hunt down the enemy when they are out of position and often times out of hope. Always, his men an extension of himself, echoed his insatiable bloodlust.
And the gushing blood... he was no stranger to the battlefield. Sometimes it wasn't even red; without oxygen blood is blue and when there is no red blood cells left flowing in your blood then it doesn't even take a color. You still know what it is, though, the lifeforce leaking out of the body.
Severed heads kept cropping up time and time again. Why tribal and warrior cultures seemed to take pride in putting heads on sticks, he did not know. But it enraged him and helped turn those millions of casualties on both sides into something... justifiable.
And finally the words victory and defeat were engraved inside his skull. Nobody ever had uttered those words. It was either his advisors informing him the "opposition had been killed with no survivors" or "we have captured the enemy general" or something along those lines. And every now and then, he slipped up and would pay for his strategical and tactical errors and would find a blade at his throat or a projectile weapon aimed at his heart and in a flash he was somewhere else commanding his men again in a new battle.
He had forgotten how many times he had died. In some ways he woke up being numb to the concept. He was afraid of death now though. Once upon a time he wasn't. He was a young zealot like the men he commanded in his dreams, it was sweet and fitting to die for your people. But now... it just scared him... just. scared. him.
He shut it out of his mind, with the rest of his dream and anchored himself back in reality; his eyes trying to convince him of what his mind could not. His surroundings were sterile, metallic and emotionally neutral. It didn't help, but then his eyes suddenly met those of his tormentor. The man responsible for the lucid dreams.
He lost himself in those ancient sapphire eyes and felt waves of admiration and pride gush over him in torrents. He was lost at sea.
The commanding compliment felt like a punch to the head. It didn't hurt though, it just put his emotions into a coma while his brain caught up.
"Your training is complete, Executor"