“I’m telling you this story because you are the only person I can trust not to judge me…
I was a soldier in the Russian Army. We were in a country which we were fighting since 1795, when Mother Russia was an Empire.
I read that the fighting goes back much farther and after all these years, the fighting still goes on. These people just want to be free of us. Is that such a horrible thing? Many of my comrades felt as I did–and still do. We did not want to be there, but as soldiers, we had little choice.
Oh, yes…we had choice: kill or be killed. Such is the commiseration of all soldiers. It was because of our sympathies we became indifferent, and that indifference led to the separation of the conscience from our humanity. We became killers. Some became murderers. Moralists would say that the line some crossed was not so fine–so inconspicuous that stepping over it did not require any thought. I can tell you that the moralists are wrong. You don’t know you have crossed the line until you have crossed it. One might ask that once you cross the line, would not a man stop and question what he has done? Fortunately, some do. But there are those who are degenerates–suffering some sort of brain fever and nothing will stop them but a bullet to the head. Such was my burden.
The antagonist of my story was a man classically trained–a pianist. You probably wonder why such a man could be a soldier. He was a very argumentative, frustrating man who offended someone with influence. Why anyone would put a gun in the hands of his enemy has always puzzled me. I had watched him murder…unarmed civilians…innocents. I will spare you the horrid details. I did nothing…nothing to stop him because I was afraid for my own life. I waited for an advantage. Alone, he walked into the forest. In a clearing was an old piano. Naturally he could not resist it. To me it was divine providence.
I could not waste a moment’s thought. I knew he would remove his helmet to play. I raised my rifle–aiming at the back of his head–just as he returned to the keys. I fired without hesitation–rapidly pulling the trigger a second time–just to be certain. The Kalashnikov did not fail the first time. I will not describe any of it for you. I executed him. Some would say I murdered him, like a coward, from behind. Others would rationalize that I released him from his demons. What does it matter? He is dead by my hand.
I am telling you this, Father, not for absolution. You were there. Do not think for a moment that I do not know what you did to those girls after Vasily killed their families, you vulture–picking the bones of innocence! You think now you are a priest it is finished? I will tell you when it is finished…”
Flash Fiction Challenge #52 at Thain in Vain
Prompt: “I’m telling you this story because you are the only person I can trust not to judge me…”
Word Count: 500
Photo: Russian soldier, Chechnya, 1994
Mostly good thoughts and many, many thanks to Ms Thain for her tireless hosting of FFC for 52 weeks. You did it, Eilidh.