I lay on the ground my rifle cocked toward the enemy. The battle rages as the sound of gunfire fill the evening sky. I catch the glimpse of a figure moving towards me through the smoke and haze.
“Stop and get down!” I shout.
The figure continuing to advance on my position. Arms waving in the air.
I take aim while pleading that they stay, “Drop to the ground. God damn it, DROP NOW.” I pull the trigger.
The shells dance in the sand next to me as the sound of each round rings across the battlefield. In the same instant, the figure pushing towards me drops to a heap on the ground and vanishes into the smoke.
After an eternity the dust settles, nerves frayed but our victory secured. The enemy is mostly dead. The unlucky captured, tortured, beaten, and interrogated with efficient brutality. The occasional gunshot pierces through the noise of raucous celebrations.
Haunted by the ghost in the shadows, I walk to the very spot on the now silent battleground. A woman still lays where she fell, terror frozen in her eyes. I follow her stare to a flag white as snow clasped between her fingers.
We came home as heroes, adorned with the medals that they gave us and the scars that we bore. Now the medals gather dust on some forgotten shelf while I spend my nights with a bottle in my hand and that flag at my side.