“Today we make history”
That was what the general said at the debriefing just hours ago. It had been rough on the high seas but we were finally on the beach of this foreign land. It’s somewhere in the tropics. There are coconut trees everywhere, their fruits and leaves carpeting the ground in brown. The scouts say there is a village north of here with about a hundred or so people. They don’t appear armed. From the village there’s a country road going further north. There was a beat down truck that left that morning with it’s paint job coming off. A sign on it’s side read B—R—- City, some of the letters were too blurry to read.
“It was a stealth mission.”
That part I committed to memory. We waded through swamps and muddy rivers, keeping to the forests and the shadows of huts. Instead of the regular automatic rifles we had pistols and rifles that dispensed medicated darts. Everybody was asleep in the village, whoever wasn’t was put to. We unpacked the huge parts we were carrying while the engineers and scientists put the mechanism together. Our job was to stand guard and secure the entry and exit points. We didn’t know what they were building but from the way they handled the parts and moved around it, it looked dangerous. They looked as if it could go off at any moment. They finished the construction in about 2 hours. Then 4 men carried in a huge black box with several yellow warning signs on it. Before they opened it they asked us to secure the escape route. Get in, get out, no complications, that was the plan.
In 40 minutes time we got back to camp, packed up and was back on the high seas. The high officers, engineers and scientists wanted to get out of there as quickly as possible. One of them, the head scientist, I learned later, kept looking from his watch to the horizon. The blue light of his digital watch illuminating his worried face, coated in sweat and the dust of the beach. I wanted to approach him and to ask what was bothering him if our platoon leader didn’t instruct us not to ask any questions until we were back on camp. I wonder what the villagers would think once they saw that construct in the morning. Would they wonder, would they poke at it or maybe report it to whoever lives in B—R—- City. I was thankful we didn’t have to kill anyone and that there weren’t any slip-ups on our part. I know that killing is part and parcel of my job description but I’d like to avoid it as much as possible. BEEEEEP BEEEEEP BEEEEEP broke the silence at the sound of dozens of digital alarms going off.
It was oddly beautiful, turning night into day. A brief pinprick on the veil of night followed by a grand burst of light. It was like recreating the sun. Then you heard the boom and felt the wind pushing you back. Finally comes that iconic cloud, that final flourish as the light begins to wane. A symbol of death, that mushroom cloud.