We That Are Left

Author : Alex Smith

Six of them stood around the grave, silent. It was the first time they had lost a soldier.

For a long while, nobody moved. The air was still, disturbed only by the whirs and clicks of their implants, and the gentle humming of respirators. Eventually, the Captain spoke up.

“Reyes was a good fighter,” he said hoarsely. His electrolarynx crackled with static, distorting the pain in his voice. “One of the best in the battalion. And he was a good man, at that.”

The others said nothing.

“Reyes would have wanted us to honour him,” the Captain continued. “He would have wanted us to respect his death. He would have wanted us to forget.”

Still, the gathered soldiers were silent.

“There is no room for sorrow on the battlefield.” His voice was hard, now. “You freeze up, you hesitate even for a second, you die. Reyes knew that. So do all of you.”

The Captain reached up to his temple, to the tangle of wires and lights stitched into his skin, just below the hairline. There was a brief pause; a moment of indecision. Then, one by one, the others did the same.

“Until all of this is over,” he told them, “we cannot afford the luxury of grief.”

Delicately, he brushed his fingertips against the interface. Something metallic stirred inside his skull.

Sergeant Giorgio Reyes, he thought. Full wipe.

*

Five of them stood around the grave, silent. It was the first time they had lost a soldier.

3 Comments

  1. Jae

    The methods of ‘coping’ that seem right but are actually so very wrong.

  2. xdhz8

    Good story. Compact and effective.

  3. SimonJM

    I must be more tired than I thought, I missed the obvious passage of time denoted by the asterisk! 😉
    A nice concept, well-portrayed but it make me shudder; why do they not just remove all concepts of what they are fighting for, that’d lessen any ‘rogue’ emotive issues 😉

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