Former police officer Donny joined the war for his best friend, Alan. But when Alan dies, Donny's mental health takes a turn for the worst. He is discharged from the war and sent to a therapist, who suggests him going out and clearing his mind. When Donny starts hearing shots being fired in the park, he decides to investigate, but finds out something he wishes he never knew.


1. Donny

Donny was walking around, trying to clear his head. He looked down at his gun and thought about what just happened. He wasn’t sure what exactly happened, everything was just a blur and he could still hear the ringing in his ears.

He started walking towards the exit of the park, ignoring the array of dead bodies that littered the ground. As he walked out of the park, he noticed security guards pointing guns his way. He put his hands up and put his gun down, finally remembering what he did.


With people joining the war left and right, the crime rate went down, which gave the police force no other choice but to do one of two things, either to fight in the war or to go into early retirement. They only needed one police officer per shift, which only left them with a total of five police officers total, including the sheriff.

Donny was the walking stereotype of a police officer. Overweight, middle aged, all complete with the mustache anyone will see on nine out of ten police officers. He was good on the force. He did his job, arrested those who broke the law, very rarely had to pull his gun out, and it was even more rare that he used it. When given the choice, he didn’t think twice about it before saying he wanted to join. There were multiple reasons why he wanted to go to war. One was to give him something to do, so he wouldn’t be left to just sit around at his all the time. Another was so he felt important in the war, so he wasn’t one of those people who just sat around talking about how they wished the war would end, but does nothing to help it end. But the main reason he joined was seeing Alan’s name on the sign up sheet to get shipped out.

Alan was Donny’s best friend. They had been together for their entire lives, from the first day of kindergarten to now. Everything they did, they did together. Every little ‘yeah, but’ that Donny had against wanting to sign up went out the window when he saw Alan’s name written on the sign up sheet, and he put his own name down. Two weeks later, him and Alan were sitting side by side on the plane and heading off to North Korea.

Donny did so well in the war. One of the best, everyone looked up to him and the rookies would be trained to be exactly like him. Everything seemed like it was working out for Donny, until the accident happened.

After seeing Alan get shot and killed, he was never the same. He would have nightmares every night, wake up screaming in a sweat. After a couple of weeks of them studying him, they honorably discharged him due to his psychological condition, and suddenly he was retired.

It’s been two weeks since he was discharged and was able to ‘relax’ at home. Retirement didn’t bother him as much as he thought it would. He actually found it quite pleasant. He just sat at home and watched TV. He did think it would be better if Alan was there to experience it with him, in fact sometimes he would just imagine sometimes seeing Alan there sitting next to him and sharing a beer with him, like they said they would always do when the war was over and they all got to go home. Even with his life being almost pitch perfect now that he was retired, he still felt like a failure to some degree. He felt like he let everyone down, especially since he didn’t die in battle or single handedly end the war, like you would see in old war movies where the guy is perfectly fine when he gets home and lives the apple pie life everyone dreams about.

“I just feel like if I pretended to be more mentally stable, then I would still be there helping them fight,” Donny admitted to his therapist. A suggestion made by the army. They felt that he would still have trouble with his mental health when he got out, so they gave him a therapist. Once a week, every week indefinitely. This was only their first session, though. They wanted to give Donny some time to adjust to the real world again before going, also to give his mind some time to recover from what happened.

“You saw a very tragic event, you can’t help what you felt,” the therapist assured him as he wrote in his notebook.

“I guess you’re right, I just feel like I should have been stronger than that. I mean I’ve seen things as a police officer. Awful things, things I never thought happened outside of TV shows and movies. But this… this is what got to me. Having to see my best friend shot in battle.” he shrugged. “Sometimes I still feel Alan there with me. Like when I’m at home and stuff,” he said as he played with his hands.

“Really, how long has that been going on?” the man asked, genuinely interested as he wrote in his notebook.

“Ever since I left, basically. It’s not like he’s there with me all the time, I just sometimes see him in quick glimpses, and then it just vanishes.” Donny felt awkward for admitting it aloud for the first time ever, but he felt better knowing that he got it off his chest.

“You know, I think something that might help is getting out,” the man said. “Like going out for a walk or something, just to clear your mind of everything. Might do you some good to get away from your house and go somewhere other than your house,” he suggested.

Donny just grumbled something under his breath as he thought about going out. That was something he never really thought about before. The rest of the session went by quickly. Donny wanted to change the topic of what happened and just talk about random things, things completely unrelated to the war, to Alan.

Donny went straight home after his session. On his way home, he made the plan to go out to the park. But before he could do that, he had to get ready. It was longer than he was proud to admit since he took a proper shower, or even brushed his teeth. If he was going to go out in public, he didn’t want people to think that he was a homeless slob.

On the way there, Donny noticed how much the world has changed since the war started. He noticed how many people were missing, either because they moved away or because they joined the war. He noticed how bad the economy plummeted, too. He noticed that more people were walking than driving, because gas prices kept rising to the point where almost no one could afford gas. He noticed a lot of shops that used to gain so much attention out of business so suddenly. He noticed more homes empty, and more children on the street.

He didn’t realize what an impact the war really had on such a little town like that. Everything felt so surreal to him. Seeing the town, once a beautiful place full of nothing but life, in ruins.

When he made it to the park, he walked around and admired the scenery. “At least the war can’t get rid of the beauty of nature,” Donny thought to himself. He walked around on his own for about ten minutes before sitting down on a bench and thinking to himself. He looked out and noticed how even though it seemed like everything was in ruins, people still somehow found their own sense of happiness. People were still happy with where they were. Sure, a good majority of them were homeless, but they had tents pitched and were acting like that was how it’s always been.

“Maybe they’re not as affected by it because they weren’t involved,” Donny thought to himself.

“Or maybe there’s really nothing to be affected by,” he could hear another voice saying. He looked over beside him and saw Alan. He tried to blink away the vision, but it didn’t go away like it usually would.

“What are you doing here?” Donny asked, now uncertain if it was even real or not.

“Just hanging out with you. You always said we would come here together when we got out of the war,” Alan shrugged, looking around at the scenery.

“Yeah, and then you died,” Donny said softly, looking down at his hands. “How are you here?”

“I think we both know the answer to that. Look, people aren’t affected by the war emotionally because they had nothing to do with the war. They only know the economic downfall of everything, not the emotional toll that it had on us. They weren’t the ones who went out and fought. To them it was nothing but “I can’t afford rent, but we’ll make it work.’”

Donny thought about it, and found that it did make a little bit of sense. “Yeah, I guess you’re right,” Donny said, looking off into the distance. “Do you think it’s better for them to not know?”

“I think ignorance is bliss.”

Donny thought about Alan’s words and just sat there for a minute to process them. He looked back over at Alan to talk to him, but before he could say anything, he noticed Alan was gone. He just got up from the bench and started walking around some more.

Even though he knew he was just talking to a figment of his imagination, he still felt lonely once Alan left. He just needed someone to talk to, someone that wasn’t a therapist or someone who would ask ‘how are you feeling from this?’ He wanted someone to talk about nothing with,

He heard a clapping in the air, and could recognize the noise immediately as a gunshot. At first it was just one, but then heard five in a row. The noise itself sounded so close to him, but at the same time so distant, and he couldn’t get a good guess on which particular area it was coming from. When he got a good guess, he started running. As he was running, he could have sworn he could see Alan running beside him. “Alan what are you doing here?” he asked, looking over at him.

“I’m trying to make sure these people don’t end up the same way I did,” he said. “Stop running right now.” Donny could feel Alan grabbing at his arm, but kept pulling it away so he could keep running.

“I stop running I can’t save them!”

“Trust me, it will be better if you stop. They won’t die if you stop.”

“If I stop, then they will die. I have to save them, I can’t stop.”

“You’re the one killing them. Just stop this,” Alan said, getting a good grip on Donny’s arm and forcing him to stop in his tracks. “You need to stop. Don’t let them end up like I did.”

Donny tried processing everything. He looked around to see that now the area was completely empty except for Donny and Alan. He didn’t understand anything as his brain tried processing it.

“What happened to you Alan?” Donny asked, out of breath from all the running.

“You shot me. It was you who killed me. You were never made to be in the war, you were always too nice. We could all see it; you were too much of a good person,” Alan explained. “One day we went into combat, and you didn’t kill a single person. You just stayed to the side and watched us do everything. You watched us having to kill all those people, and lose some in the process. And you did nothing to help.”

Donny tried to remember the event, but nothing came to his mind. He could not remember anything from before Alan got shot. “You said I killed you, but I remember you getting shot in battle by the enemy.”

“No, that’s probably what your brain chose to remember, but you were the one who pulled the trigger. It was the day after, and you were having terrible nightmares. I tried waking you up, but as soon as you woke up you grabbed your gun and shot me,” he explained. “After that they got your mental health evaluated and found out that you were seriously mentally disturbed from the war, so they discharged you.”

Donny shook his head, unable to bring the memory back. “No, you’re lying. You were shot by the enemy, I would never hurt you.

“I know you don’t want to believe it, Donny. And I know you didn’t mean to kill me, but that is the reality of the situation, here. You are the one who killed me. Not the enemy, not anyone else. Just you.”

“Okay, even if I was the one who killed you, how would that affect this current situation, I’m nowhere near these people that are getting killed,” he said, hearing another gunshot echo into the air.

“But you are. You’re killing them right now, Donny. You just haven’t been able to notice the real world since I died.”

“Then what have I been seeing?”

“What you want to see. You think that just because we are in the middle of a war, everything is bad and broken. Almost nothing has changed; it has been pretty much the same thing as always.”

“Why do I see it differently?” Donny asked, not wanting to know the answer to his own question. “If the world hasn’t really gone to hell like I expected, how come that’s all I can see it as?”

“Because that’s all you want to see it as. You think that a war means death and destruction everywhere. You need help, more help than you’re getting with that therapist you’re going to see every week.”

Donny looked around him, seeing the world slowly starting to turn grey around the two of them. “How will I know what’s real and what’s not?”

“If I’m there, you know it can’t be real. Just stop shooting those people.”

“How do I stop?” he asked as another gunshot was heard. “I don’t even know that I’m doing it.”

“That’s something you’ll have to figure out on your own,” Alan said as he started to slowly disappear.

Donny did not know what to do. He kept hearing the gunshots, but had no idea how to get them to stop. How to get himself to stop. He tried concentrating on snapping back to reality, but every gunshot made him lose his grip on the real world more and more.

He tried doing something that would make him snap out of it. He tried pinching himself, hitting himself, anything to make him snap out of it. He noticed that he was on top of a cliff, which gave him the idea to jump, knowing that he would either snap into reality or die. And he was okay with either one, because he knew either way it would get him to stop hurting the other people.

He looked down from the cliff and saw the bottom. He saw how far of a jump it was, which made him a little nervous, but he knew he had to do it.

He took a deep breath and closed his eyes before jumping over. As he was falling, he could still hear gunshots ringing through the air. He opened his eyes to see himself getting closer and closer to the bottom, which for a split second made him think that Alan was lying to him and he wasn’t really the one who was shooting all those people. But before he could think anything else, it all went black.

Donny woke up on the ground at the park and looked around to notice the people around him covered in blood and bullet wounds. He tried to process everything that went on, not fully sure he understood what happened. He looked down and saw his gun lying next to him. He picked it up, looked in the chamber to see that he was out of bullets.

“Oh, my God,” Donny said, seeing the people scattered about the lot. “What did I do?” he asked himself. He couldn’t bring himself to face the reality of the situation, so instead he just got up off the ground and tried to escape.

Everywhere he went, all he could see was people laying down. People that were either already dead, or on their way real soon. He remembered the things he’s seen as a police officer. Some of those things were worse than this as far as visually, but knowing Donny did all of this is what made it the worst thing he’s seen in his life. Some were calling out for help, fear evident in their eyes as he would walk past them. He didn’t mean to hurt anyone, though. He was just listening to his therapist.

Donny was walking around, trying to clear his head. He looked down at his gun and thought about what just happened. He wasn’t sure what exactly happened, everything was just a blur and he could still hear the ringing in his ears.

He started walking towards the exit of the park, ignoring the array of dead bodies that littered the ground. As he walked out of the park, he noticed security guards pointing guns his way. He put his hands up and put his gun down, finally remembering what he did.

He remembered everything. He remembered killing Alan. He remembered grabbing his gun before walking to the park. He remembered the look on that first woman’s face as he pulled out the gun and shot her without any warning. How people who were standing around watching started to freak out, and how instead of stopping there, he just kept going.

He fell to his knees, putting his hands behind his head as the officers put him in cuffs while reading his Miranda rights before escorting him to their car. As he was being taken to the station, he saw a couple of ambulance cars drive past so they could try and rescue as many people as they could.

While being questioned, Donny told the whole truth. “I don’t remember much. I remember the events, it just feels more like a bad dream to me than a memory,” he said honestly. He pleaded insanity in court, hoping that maybe if he was found mentally unstable, they would get him the help he needed. Which he was found mentally unstable, and the judge sent him to a mental hospital. There he was supposed to be treated for his illness and given a second chance to better his mental health and go out into the world again.

He kept to himself almost the whole time, not wanting to really disturb anyone or hurt anyone any further than he already has. When he was not eating or in his therapy sessions, he would mostly just be in his room reading to himself. Every now and then his brain would play tricks on him and make it seem like he wasn’t there, like he was back at his house or visiting a friend, but after a while he would be reminded of where he was and reality would hit him. He never saw Alan again, though. Donny missed seeing him most of the time, but other times he was thankful that he didn’t have that reminder with him that he killed his own best friend.

Every now and then, an old friend or a family member would come in to check on him and see how he was doing. He just told them “I’m doing fine,” which most of the time was the truth. It seemed like his emotions were either drastically bad or he felt nothing at all, like he was emotionally numb to his current situation.

He was lying in his bed when he heard a knock at the door. He leaned up and raised an eyebrow, curious as to who it could be. The doctors usually just opened the door without any kind of warning. He got up from his bed, carefully tiptoeing towards the door and wondering who it could be behind the door.

“Who’s there?” he asked, listening out for an answer.

“Open the door and find out,” a voice answered. Donny recognized the voice, but he could not remember where he has heard it before. It was more or less just like an old memory.

He cautiously reached for the door. When he opened it, he just stared in disbelief. He looked around his room to try to piece together what was real and what wasn’t, and even after he concluded that he was living in the real life, the man still stood in front of him.


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