It’s scary, you know, not knowing what’s going on behind your back. I tried turning once or twice, but all I could see were the backs of my fellow soldiers as they fired shot after shot after shot.
My ears are ringing and painful, making it harder not to stumble with each explosion of the bomb. Melanie’s in full out tear mode, sobbing into her hands. I feel it too, the dread and utter sickness that only seems to grow stronger with each bomb, but I do my best to conceal it.
If I start crying now, I might never stop.
Judging by the shouts, I’m guessing the officials have been caught off guard by our four way attack. I would be too, personally. Still, you’d think they’d have a better strategy of protecting themselves. Maybe they do, but as of yet, I see nothing.
The land in front of me is still completely bare. No one’s out walking nor does anything seem to move. The sun beats down on us, early afternoon, like a war glow, urging us on.
In my opinion, it’s the first few hours of war that really matter. If a man or woman was to remain strong enough and eager enough for the first few hours, they do have the power to win it. If they’re weak and scared, odds are they’re going down pretty fast.
I’m judging it to be just after two in the afternoon when the officials develop their own strategy. They use our own technique, splitting up into four sides and firing at their given side instead of randomly.
I only know this because when our men start falling to the ground here and there, I’m able to turn and see.
My stomach sinks as I see what we’ve done to them. Bodies, hundreds even, little the ground and those that are still alive stumble over them as they reload their weapons, take aim and fire. Some on the ground are still moving, moaning and curled up in pain and I get the urge to go heal them, bandage their wounds or something.
I’m actually considering the idea when Keegan Berry, our soldier in charge, yells out clearly,
“Head to the first hill! Get back!”
For once, I’m actually glad I was able to face away from the main fight, meaning I can run forwards along with Melanie and the others while the front half has to run backwards.
I break away from the group, sprinting for the sloped area where Keegan wanted; just to double check it’s not mined.
It turns out, the officials had considered an attack from both ways to and I skid to a stop when I see the first head.
“Look out!” I scream and shove Melanie to the ground just as a shot fires.
It hits a tree, thankfully, but my elbows are bruised from where they hit the bitumen.
“Looks like we get a fight after all,” I say quietly as I pull Melanie to her feet, dodging the bullets the rebound off the bitumen.
They must have thought the odds of us attacking from both ways were very unlikely because the ones they have assigned to that small hill are young, not even in their twenties, going by their looks.
These must be the sons and daughters of the officials because none of them look at all like the Society kids.
Where the hell do they keep them all day?
I whip out my radio and press it to my lips.
“Amelia, Amelia. It’s Alice. Can you hear me?”
Her response is immediate.
“Sure can. What’s going on, on your end?”
“Ugh. We’ve got ourselves into a mess. There’s a crew of soldiers hiding in a ditch which we need to get into to protect ourselves from the others. We’re practically an open target.”
“Just shoot them.”
“Alice,” I can hear her scoff. “This is a war. They need to go if we’re to win. How many do you think there are?”
I imagine the ditch line again.
“Not even a hundred.”
“Should be easy than. Get to work and good luck.”
“Wait,” I stop her, taking a deep breath. “Should... should we take a prisoner? They’re young, meaning they’ll give us information about the whole underworld of this place more easily than the adults.”
I count five long seconds before she responds.
“Fine, but don’t go out of your way to get one. Shoot if you can.”
In my history classes, we learnt about these things called video games. I never really got the full idea on what they did, mostly that you’d be able to manipulate the outcome of a story by pressing buttons and staring at a screen. That’s about all I really remember.
However, now, as I shoot a girl with short blonde hair, almost like my own, do I remember something else. It’s like a distant memory.
According to a survey conducted just before the Chocolate Society was put into place, the most popular video games involved violence or just full out murder.
I say murder because to me, that’s what war is. I doubt any of the people really want to die, maybe to fight, but not to die. Shooting someone is like robbing them of their last breath.
Life truly is a dainty thing, something that should be cherished. A to deep cut of the wrists and it’s gone, swept away like the blood. One perfectly aimed shot of the bullet and your victim won’t even know they’re dead until they wake up in the afterlife.
How people could enjoy these sort of video games, I’ll never understand. Maybe that’s why there was so much violence and hatred in the world before the Society. Taking a life isn’t just a simple press of the button or small squeeze of the trigger.
I can guarantee that I’ll remember every face of the people I kill today.
Already, I have two to remember.
The kids behind the hill were untrained, shooting blindly into the distance and way to scared to give thought to what they were trying to achieve here.
We were able to circle around the hill easily, ten of us on each side while the rest waited at the top, in case they tried to run.
I was shot at twice.
The first bullet shot past my air, probably taking a few strands of my hair with it.
The other one did hit me though, grazing the top of my arm.
I scream when I felt the pain, stopped my march around the hill to rip back the fabric of my shirt and expose the wound,
It ripped a few millimetres of my flesh away, leaving a dip in my arm that pumps blood which each beat of my heart.
“Here,” someone pats me on the back and I whirl around to find a girl, Danny, my own age that holds up a strip of fabric. “You’ll die from blood lose if you don’t bandage it.”
I scream a second time when she knots the fabric tight, only seconds later, biting into my right wrist so I don’t cry as hard as I would.
Luckily, I was shot on the left arm, leaving my right to shoot freely.
Danny disappeared before I could thank her.
All up, I kill five people. Three die, one girl and two guys, from shots to the chest while the other two, both girls, I have to hit a few times thanks to another tremor from a bomb.
Some tried to run, scampering up the hill with a whimper. Their screams as they encountered the waiting forces nearly made me cry and I had to look away as they dropped like flies.
I remember only just in time, as the last person remains, that we should take a captive.
“Stop!” I scream at a guy named Arnold who points his gun at the remaining, crying female. “We need a captive.”
“No!” the girl screams as a few soldiers make their way towards her. “No, kill me, too!”
I block my ears at her screams and turn again as they drag the girl to who knows where. My arms gone numb by now, but I can see the stain of blonde that’s spread through the fabric of the bandage. Lifting my hands to block my ears only made my arm light up in pain like a fire, but I don’t care.
Sometimes the real pain isn’t physical.
The remaining troops from our front line, only about a two hundred combined with our line, take cover behind the slope after that. Some of us are sent off to check the other slopes for soldiers, but when they return, they shake their heads and join in on shooting at the black figures that have shrunk in size massively since we started only an hour ago.
Melanie was shot, right in front of my eyes. After we took over the slope, I was able to stay by her side, clinging onto her hand as her eyes rolled back into her head, leaving my insides more numb than my arm.
What would I tell her children? Harold and Jessica?
Well, my brain reminds myself. That is if they’re alive. We both know if those bombs were for the rebel camp than they’re more than likely dead.
Toby and Eliza included.
The thought is so revolting and horrific that I have to turn a vomit into the dirt, like I’m trying to hurl away the whole thing. Maybe they’re trapped in their right now. Maybe the only bombed the entries and exits, leaving them to starve to death just like those men in the tent theorised.
I wouldn’t put it past the officials to do something like that. I mean, they sent their children into fight. Either they’re really messed up or they’re really desperate.
I’m hoping it’s the later because it means we should take control easily.
Keegan Berry and the first line of soldiers fall backwards, allowing the second line to start firing.
I’m in the third.
He mutters into his radio, listening intently and answering at times. I try to listen in, but the sound of shots is too loud.
When he’s done though and looks up, I can tell he knows I was trying.
“Hello, Alice,” he shouts, almost smiling.
He’s what someone would call cute and I sort of have to agree. Muscly people aren’t my type, I more so like the skinny ones like Toby, but even I have to admit the muscles look good on this guy.
He’s wearing a black t-shirt that stretches across his chest, outlining the abs that settle underneath. His arms are built, all puffed out a rippled and I watch in fascination as he stretches them, watching the way they work.
He’s got light hair that verges on white. It’s close cropped, but curled almost adoringly.
I shake my head to stop the thoughts right there. This is no time to be fantasizing about soldiers, especially since I have my gorgeous and adorable Toby waiting for me to return.
That is, if the tunnel hasn’t been bombed.
“Hey, Keegan!” I yell back, stopping the negative thoughts in their tracts. “What’s up?”
“That was Jonathan, the man working with the south side. He just gave word that he’s sent a few of his men to that building you call the office. They’ve broken in easily and are checking out the place.”
“Any side or Margaret? The queen bee?”
“Not yet, but certainly soon if we keep it up.”
I can’t help but smile at his pleased expression.
In the end, we don’t have to shoot all the officials. As their numbers fall, we’re able to press forwards again until we’re practically in a square.
Of course this makes it easier for them to shoot us too and a good deal of men fall including Ernest Hemmings from before, but we’re too much for them and soon they toss their weapons to the side, arms raised in surrender.
“Don’t shoot!” they plead and we all look at each other.
Do we? Don’t we?
Our answer’s given by Amelia who marches forwards, making the remaining twenty of so cower.
“I want your hands behind the back of your head NOW. Anyone who doesn’t will be shot instantly.”
They all put their heads behind their heads.
“Good. Now into a single line.”
They practically trip over themselves in the process, but soon they’re in a line.
Amelia’s grinning widely by this point.
“Right, let’s lead them to the tunnels.”
Everyone starts to scream and applaud as we march them towards the closest entrance, patting each others backs and even crying.
I’m doing the same until I catch the eyes of one of our captives, an old man with dark eyes and white hair.
I stop cheering almost immediately as I do because usually, when you lose a fight, you’re not in the mood to smirk like you’ve actually won it.