War Hero.

Was it memory that led him to this place? Some distant recall from lost years of youth. He had lived in this town for only a short time, yet driving through its sleepy main street felt like coming home. It was late and the town seemed deserted, the only sign of life was the odd street light lighting the way.

He reached the end of the town in a matter of minutes, if you blinked you would miss it all together. At the end of the main street was the only motel. It was empty, which was perfect for him. He pulled into the parking lot and made his way to the office.

“I’ll take 2 rooms on opposite sides,” he said to the night manager.

The manager didn’t even look up, “whatcha up too?”

“Nothing, just want some privacy.”

“Gotcha, guess you’ll be using two names?”

He was amused by the indifference of this man. In a strange way it was comforting.

“Yes one under Paul Smythe, the other under Darren Fournier.”

The manager looked up at the mention of Darrens’s name. His eyes widened, “the war hero.”

“Well that is a matter of opinion.”

“My opinion is what it is…Mr. Smythe.”

Darren left the grinning manager and walked to the furthest room. He stepped in and closed the door, locking it behind him. The room was small, but clean and Darren felt immediately comfortable. He drew the curtains and was thrown into darkness. Darren laid down on the bed and waited for the nightmare. It always came with sleep.

“Charlie…baker…tango…Fox going in the den…radio silence in 3…2…1…”
Darren cut the signal and made his way into the burned out building. He quickly disabled the trip wires and pressure mines that lay between him and his prey. He was highly trained for these missions. This was his 27th recon and his senses were tuned in to the mission. His job was simple, kill until he was killed.
He made his way up the stairwell. Mid way up he saw movement. No time to think as he quickly unsheathed a knife and threw it with deadly precision. It caught the man in the throat to ensure no screams. Darren was already sprinting to the man as he began to fall. He caught the body and laid him silently on the ground.
He arrived at the fourth floor and used his mirror to peer around the corner. There were seven men all screaming at each other as they lay sniper fire and machine gun rounds on the platoon below. They had already taken out 4 tanks with the heavy artillery and by the looks of it they had enough to take out at least 5 more. He retracted his mirror and took out his gun.
It had 10 rounds and a silencer. He would have 3 spares. He took a deep breath and visualized his targets. He stepped into the room firing. Four were dead before the rest even knew he was there. The other three died looking into Darren’s eyes. Darren liked that, he believed the dead should see it coming.
“Clear,” he said into his radio. He heard the cheers from below.
From behind him he heard a scraping noise. He turned and fired without thinking. The last body crumpled to the ground, the smile wiped from the boy’s face with a bullet to the temple…

Darren woke up, sweating and breathing hard. The dream always came when he slept, making sure he lived in a state of fatigue and terror. He stood, feeling the aches and pains of no rest. He limped over to bathroom. Staring into the mirror he saw the lines on his face, he was tired, so very tired.

He left the room and started walking toward the main street; his joints slowly working out the aches of the morning. The sun was just peeking up from the horizon and the town was not up to greet it. Few cars passed by and fewer residents. He walked, stopping from time to time to stare into a shop window until he would see himself staring back.

The far end of town was reached within the hour. He turned and began his walk back. The town was starting to bustle with morning activities, men and woman going about their business. Children laughing and playing in the only school yard. Darren stopped to watch the children, wanting desperately to be one of them. That time was well in the past.

As he watched, one child separated from the group. The boy walked up to the fence and stared at Darren with dark eyes and a half smile. The bullet wound still fresh in the boy’s temple. Darren closed his eyes tight.

“Not real, not real,” he said as he opened them. The boy was gone and Darren moved on.

For some reason he had hoped this small town would offer something to stop his nightmares and daymares. He thought the ghosts of his past would not find him, but it wasn’t to be. He walked back to the motel. Once safely back in his room he fished out his pills from his bag. He referred to them as his Zombie Vitamins. They restricted the imagination from taking over his mind. Really they left Darren in an emotionless coma, awake but completely unresponsive. Darren liked his pills.

He had been released from active duty for a year. He had saved countless soldiers and his last mission earned him a Medal of Honor. The doctors said he suffered from posttraumatic stress and that it was normal considering the circumstances. He always laughed at the cold demeanor of army shrinks. It was a boy, no older than eight or nine. He should have known, he should have seen him before he fired. His senses took over; his instincts were trained to fire first.

He spent the rest of the day staring at the wallpaper, thinking how wonderful the pattern really was. His days all seemed to melt together in this routine of drug induced peace. As the drugs wore off the fatigue set in. He laid down and waited for the nightmare.

Darren cut the signal and made his way into the burned out building. He quickly disabled the trip wires and pressure mines that lay between him and his prey. He was highly trained for these missions. This was his 27 reckon and his senses were tuned in to the mission. His job was simple, kill until he was killed.
He made his way up the stairwell. Mid way up he saw movement. No time to think he quickly unsheathed a knife and threw it with deadly precision. It caught the man in the throat to ensure no screams. Darren was already sprinting to the man as he began to fall. He caught the body and laid him silently on the ground.
He arrived at the fourth floor and used his mirror to peer around the corner. There were seven men all screaming at each other as they lay sniper fire and machine gun rounds on the platoon below. They had already taken out 4 tanks with the heavy artillery and by the looks of it they had enough to take out at least 5 more. He retracted his mirror and took out his gun.
It had 10 rounds and a silencer. He would have 3 spares. He took a deep breath and visualized his targets. He stepped into the room firing. Four were dead before the rest even knew he was there. The other three died looking into Darren’s eyes. Darren liked that, he believed the dead should see it coming.
“Clear,” he said into his radio. He heard the cheers from below.
From behind him he heard a scraping noise. He turned and fired without thinking. The last body crumpled to the ground, the smile wiped from the boy’s face with a bullet to the temple. The boy released the pressure trigger that attached to the explosives strapped to him. The explosion threw Darren against the far wall with force and fire.

He woke up sweating. He raised his arm to wipe his forehead, but remembered to stop just before the metal hook scraped at his scarred face. He sat up staring at his lost arm, his eyes wandering down to his prosthetic leg. He should have known, he should have known there were eight.

War Hero.

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