The shed was dark, since there were no lights and the minute hand on my watch was about to collide with the 12, making it 6 in the morning. The square shed was cramped, but the vertical boards of the walls seemed to pierce into the dark sky with no end. The cold winter air was scratching at my face as it crawled through the open shed door, and the air made the steel barrel of the gun kissing my temple even more biting. This didn’t phase me though. I had dealt with conditions far worse than this.
Don’t eat. Don’t sleep. Don’t move. Don’t miss. Don’t eat. Don’t sleep. Don’t move. Don’t miss. Those words raced through my brain like a stallion over and over again ever since I was 24. I still remember the day it all began.
General Anderson was dressed in casual clothes, an exotic sight to see from such a highly ranked man. Anderson had me meet him on a bench at the Lincoln Memorial. The Capital had an angelic glow from the rising sun inching its way into the morning sky. This made it hard to read the translucent pages of The Washington Post in my hands, which was now gleaming with an orange pigment. However, I didn’t plan on doing much reading that morning. Anderson had never asked to meet with me while I was on leave before, so I knew it was important. I also knew it was highly classified when he sat down on the bench next to me and told me not to look at him.
“I’ve seen your file, Sergeant. You have a promising future with us.” Anderson’s voice had the same power as always, but it was quiet and almost desperate at the same time.
“I’m starting a new project with a few colleagues of mine, and we think you’d be a perfect addition to the team. Have you ever considered becoming a sniper?”
I started to turn my head towards him. “A sniper?”
“Don’t look at me!” Anderson’s voice immediately snapped back to its normal tone. “Why not?”
“Just don’t.” Anderson seemed so agitated now. Almost as if he thought we were being watched. Seeing that behavior from the man I had admired for the past 6 years sent a chill down my spine, so I turned back to my paper.
“Sorry sir. I’m just surprised by your offer. Why do you want me to be a sniper, and what is the objective of this ‘project’?”
“I can answer all of your questions in time sergeant, but you need to answer one of mine first. Are you in?”
When that one word left my lips, I had sentenced myself to the chair I sit in today. I still don’t know why I said yes, having no idea what I was getting myself into.
After my training, General Anderson would meet me at the bench every Sunday. Anderson would hand me a piece of paper with a name on it, walk away, I’m shipped off somewhere, and my work would begin.
Don’t eat. Don’t sleep. Don’t move. Don’t miss. Don’t eat. Don’t sleep. Don’t move. Don’t miss. I sit and wait for the owner of the name to show themselves until finally I see their face.
By Friday of that same week, the name on the paper would find its way onto an obituary. Every single week, there was a new name. Anderson told me those names belonged to enemies of the country. Murderers, traffickers, and terrorists. Anderson lied.
I was protecting my country by aiding the people trying to destroy it.
The truth is, every single person I killed was innocent. Innocent. They did nothing wrong. Nothing. Anderson had me kill randomly selected people to create paranoia and chaos. No one would know who the killer was or if they would be the next victim. Brother would turn against brother, and then they would start pointing their paranoid fingers at other countries. The empire known as the United States would tear itself apart looking for me. They couldn’t find me though. Anderson buried me so far underneath the government’s nose that I wasn’t even a blip on their radar. I wasn’t even in the military records anymore.
When I found out what Anderson was doing, I just couldn’t stop asking why. Why, why, why?Why would he do this? Why would Anderson do this to his country, his family, and to me? He made me the villain. It would have all been my fault, but instead I sit in my chair.
Was it possible for there to be another way to stop Anderson and his project? I don’t think so. No. If he doesn’t have me, he doesn’t have a project. Even if there was another way, I wouldn’t choose it. I can’t live with myself anymore. I can see now what I’ve already done to my country. My beautiful, broken country. I’m going to count to 10 and Anderson’s destruction will end. For now. At that moment, every face of every name flashed in front of me, as if they were there to welcome me onto their plain of existence. There were so many. The last face was the face of my wife. I’m sorry Sarah.
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