The War Inside

I was sitting in a pub near the town where I grew up, I had just been fired from my last job, and decided the best way to deal with it was to get as drunk as possible as quickly as possible. Two drinks later I was staring out the window, a Thing had arrived. The first time I had seen one was the oldest memory I had, like it was burned into my mind. I had seen them randomly, all over the place, usually before something big was about to happen, but, according to my Therapist, that’s just because my mind inserts them into memories, that there’s never a specific point in the present in which I actually see them, they’re just corruptions in old memories. This one was a bit different from the others, less rigid, it looked older, somewhat more frail than the others. I looked away, brushing it off as nothing, the people around me took no notice. The owner of the pub switched the channel on the TV to CNN, a furious reporter, his script clearly contrived, was taunting and deriding the North Korean government with maledictions, imprecations, and derogatory statements, militating the slanderous anti-Korean campaign. The broadcast only conduced to the sense of uneasiness in the pub. The broadcast cut, presumably due to the unrest in the pub, but was soon overridden with a new broadcast and a new reporter, frantic and unorganized, spoke quickly but clearly, “The United States Automatic Air Defense System has shot down a ballistic missile from North Korea in the Pacific, experts predict that the United States will soon be embroiled in the now worldwide conflict due to this provocation by the North Koreans.”

I volunteered, I don’t know what came over me but the next day I volunteered to join the military and aid the effort against the coming war. As I looked ahead in the line, I could see them culling the weak, the disabled, they could take their pick with the amount of willing participants the military was getting. They even had to constrain some of the men who were upset about being turned away. I noticed some “vanquish all who stand against us” posters before I finally got my turn to speak the arbitrary general at the front of the line, “Are you here to kill some commies, son?” “E-excuse me, sir?” I asked, clearly baffled by his lack of formality “I’m just kidding, son, sign your name on this paper here and then head over there.” He pointed to a room marked “examination.” I signed my name and six months later, here I am, Nellis Air Force Base, NV.

“Men, in less than 24 hours you will be in a forward operating base in Janggok, Korea. In 48 hours, you will be on the ground in Namp’o, North Korea, enemy territory, another group will be stationed near Songnim, a town neighboring Namp’o. You must secure the Taedong River blockade in Namp’o whilst Squad Charlie takes over the port in Songnim, from there we will be able to send support. In two weeks, we plan to have moved past Sarlwon and into P’anmunjom-ni, cutting off supply routes to southwest North Korea.” The omnipontent Lieutenant giving the briefing saluted us, and we were off to a cozy 2-hour sleep on our rock-hard beds.