Author : Duncan Shields , Featured Writer

In small German-occupied towns during WWII, if a local woman had a German soldier boyfriend during the occupation, she was hung when the war was over. People who had been seen talking to Germans and helping them had their heads shaved in the town square or some other public humiliation.

I’d always thought that this was the real horror of war. The war itself was bad for the soldiers but the moral dead end of what the average person had to do to survive left that person with almost no safe way out.

If you stood up to the occupiers, you were shot. If you were nice to the occupiers, your own people would hurt or even kill you once the invaders had lost the war and were gone. If the occupiers won in the end, you would be a second class citizen in a country you no longer recognized.

No one wins in a war except for the people who make the weapons.

This time, we were the weapons. Our manufacturers made a lot of money off of this war but it was over now and we’d been outlawed and banned and condemned. Our side lost. We’d been hunted down and executed. A few of us had been kept alive to serve the public’s need to see revenge.

For a nominal fee, you could beat or rape us. If you brought tools, you were charged before you used them based on the severity of damage that the tools would cause. For a higher fee, you could kill one of us. There were package deals involving all of the above.

There were fewer and fewer of us every day. Prices were going up.

If one burns the flag of the country or political movement that killed one’s family, it’s ultimately unsatisfying. If one captures a soldier of the enemy forces and tortures him to death, one is left satisfied but with a haunting black mark on one’s soul.

If one can take out one’s grief and anger on a thing that looks convincingly human but has no rights, new levels of satisfying sadism can be reached. By making weapons that looked human, our manufacturers accidentally guaranteed our brutalization.

We are helping people cope with loss. It can’t even be called genocide.

When the first few men were let in and what was left of my hair was pulled violently back, I liked to think about what would have happened if our side had won. I fantasized about the millions of us walking the streets with lives. I thought about our lives as weapons being a distant memory. I thought about going on dates, working at a job, being decommissioned, and having nothing to do on a Tuesday night. I thought about our existence being tolerated and maybe even accepted.

My head snaps violently to the right from the impact of a farmboy’s fist and I pray that someone has enough money in this small town to pay for execution.

This is your future: Submit your stories to 365 Tomorrows
365 Tomorrows Merchandise: The 365 Tomorrows Store
The 365 Tomorrows Free Podcast: Voices of Tomorrow