Ashes falling from the sky.
That's all that's left, ashes and silence.
I was a soldier, once.Â
I was so proud. The dress fatigues, the shiny gun and the crisp sheets on my bed.Â
My bed is somewhere in the ashes. My dress fatigues were very likely incinerated with the rest of the base, and I only have the same tired dirty pilot jumper I was wearing when I jumped into my mech to go fight the good fight.
It's not a very good story. I made it two clicks from the mech hanger, part of a six machine squad. Right flank, provide cover. I hold my arms up like I;m holding a large and impressive weapon. It's all memory, trained muscle memory, and just remembering the way the machine felt. I could feel the gun through the feedback loop, the pressure of the mech's hand on the gun. 30 rounds in the clip, I was ready.
To the east another squad like mine was moving rapidly. Seven machines, the same make and model as our own. And to the west there was a third squad, but they were all scout and recon machines. We had made initial contact, raider party coming up out of the desert.
Able company was cut to pieces. They had rail guns, we had autocannons.Â
We were converging on Able company when the world turned to light and fire.
A bomb was set off. A big one.
I passed out, and my mighty war machine toppled. I survived, the Wolverine took the brunt of the blast, and the engine housing protected me from the radiation.
It was a nuke.
Who knew there were any of those antiques left?
The base was gone, my squad mates were gone too. I scrambled free of the dead Wolverine and recovered my water can and a pistol.
A little over a mile from the mech depot and it looks like the surface of the moon. Broken timbers of buildings, and everything is still hot from the fires that have only recently gone out.
It will rain soon.
Black rain. Hot radioactive rain.Â
There are a lot of questions I want answers to, big questions like why are we here, and little questions like why they set off a nuke. It's inconsequential. I think about Lexy. She was pretty, but I found her machine blackened and charred, and I smelled burnt meat. I didn't look closer.Â
I walk, and then I cough. The ash is still falling, all around me. It's like snow.
Then I find footprints, and I get excited. I run a few hundred feet, shouting like a lunatic. But then I am sick. I have found my own path, and I am less than a stone's through from the wreckage of my Wolverine.
I cough more, and there is blood.
Radiation? Internal Injury?
Does it matter?
There is another flash, much more distant than the first. I feel it, I feel the heat saturate me. Then it's gone. Another Nuke. It's the rads they say. It's the slow death, the bad death.
I salute my fallen mech, my fallen comrades and put the pistol to the side of my head.
The ashes are still falling from the sky.
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? Responses (6)-6
Extra points because he took a writer's prompt from me and 10 minutes later had this done. Good visuals!!
Poor guy, we barely got to know him. There is not much here though, but anytime you approach a person facing their own death or the death of others you can always add more ...if you want.
But you makes some points:
6) The character is likely very tired. Who gets out of a burning mech and thinks about their bed? This imagery gives another context with which to view the character's actions.
1) Mechs works in 7-8 man squads and use a VR interface
Nice atmospheric piece.
After I reading this, all I could think about is Jack London's To Build a Fire, in that both pieces' protagonists lack a name to avoid building connections between the reader and the protagonist (at least, I assume that's why the soldier is nameless).
I also just like the last line: 'the ashes are still falling from the sky.' It just encapsulates how quickly he went from soldier to suicide.
Given the effects of severe radiation poisoning, and the irreversibility of some damage - especially since immediate medical attention (like a gut-transplant) is remote, his choice is a clear one.
Very melancholy and well painted with few words.