A Patriot

Short Story

977
By Mansoor Mamnoon
By Mansoor Mamnoon

Plot- A retired captain in the army faces his mental demons as he struggles to leave his motherless child and return to the battlefield to fight against the rebel forces that have taken over large areas of his country and spread lawlessness throughout.

“Daddy, please don’t go,” the voice cajoled him; the elongated e’s reminded him painfully of his deceased wife.

William was in a fix. He staggered forward, only to be pulled back by the wide eyes of his child, the gaze netting him and hindering his movements forward. He put one leg before the other, steadily regaining his footing, the lapels and collar on his uniform forcing his head upright. His buttoned-up sleeves dug into his wrists, unaccustomed to the chubbiness stuffed into his body over the past two years. As his combat boots prodded the ground gently, their sounds were drowned out by the blaring television next door. A peal of raucous laughter needled into the atmosphere, and for a moment, he allowed himself to think about his decision for the first time.

“Why should I go fight these intruders?” he angrily remarked to himself. “I have done my service and paid the price.” A tear ran down his cheek, its heat steaming up his spectacles as he remembered how the last time he had gone, his squadron had been blown to pieces, and his childhood friend’s arm laid on the ground – the nerves in its bloody stump splayed out haphazardly. That he found his wife dead back home, butchered by the rebel groups, just a day before his arrival had led him to permanently hang up his boots.

William took a step back. His daughter, Alina, a spitting image of her mother, again softly allured him back. A step led to two, two led to three and soon he could imagine himself spending the rest of his days with her, swinging on the swings, sliding down the slides and swimming down in the river. A moment of indecision gripped him, choking him from the inside and leading the lump in his neck to balloon up. How he could decide, he did not know; it was then that the thunderous gunshot reverberated the air with its ferocity.

William turned back, rooted to the spot by his indecision and watching with tear-ridden eyes the unfolding events. A heavily-calloused face entered his vision. The face stood over a hapless figure on the ground. Fearful, William knew what would happen next. Three…two…one: there was a loud boom and then silence…deafening silence.

Whether it was the woman’s bloodied corpse, or the wailing of that woman’s daughter or the vacant look in her eyes that had stared up at William, he did not know- All he knew was he felt the sudden urge to fight back. To fight back against people like these, people who had killed his wife, the people who had blown-up his squadron.

William strode away into the mist, knowing exactly what lay ahead. The bus would pick him up and take him to the army base; there he would be given the retraining needed to fight against the insurrectionist forces and lead his country to glory once again.