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Library: Conscienceous Observer


Author: Pirotessa
Date:Feb 12 1996

     Benny and most of his friends joined the army at 18, like just about all
other boys did.  The only way to get out of the running was to go to college,
and these days I hear that's too hard on their young minds.  Which is why most
decide not to.
     The only reason that this is about Benny, and not some other Potter
Stewarting goof-off, is b'cos Benny actually believed in some religion.  And
unlike most who attest to a religion, he actually practiced it.  
     When he finished boot camp, and it came time to fight the "wretched,
twisted, very evil, wrong-in-every-way enemy, the 'true criminals' and scum of
the earth, Benny went to his commanding officer.  "Sir, I will fight, but I
will not kill my fellow man."
     His sarge was about to shoot him, but then he remembered his commanding
officer would probably shoot him.  He'd been told that "every boy that gets
through boot camp, that's 1000 big ones down the drain.  Better make 'em worth
     When Benny explained to rest of his comrades in his platoon that the only
reason he had a pistol
is so that he could shoot himself if he was captured, they all laughed at him.
They would send him out front to run around and draw the enemy fire away from
the rest of them.  That worked pretty well until he got hit in the leg, and
couldn't run around anymore.  Then they gave him a megaphone and had him yell
insults at the enemy forces.  Sometimes if the enemy was stupid enough he'd
still draw some fire.
     Meanwhile his platoon raided another village.  "Take no prisoners"
ordered the commanding officer haughtily.  "Look at the way the heads of the
women and children explode when they're hit."  "Almost a work of art, ain't
it.  Maybe you'll be the next Norman Rockwell."  "Now if I set up my
insta-shot camera, we can probly get a few freeze frames"  "Cool, man.  Lets
kill the rest.  When we get back to the states, we make a fortune selling
'modern art' too."  All this talk made Benny feel sick.
     Other excuses often used for killing everyone else like the girls and
children were "What else are we supposed to do with them", "We need the
experience points", "we want to get promoted", "I got a medal last time for
doing it", and "Hey, one bullet's much cheaper than having another mouth to
feed."  And, the ever-popular "kill 'em now, otherwise the kids will be coming
at you with guns in five years."
     Of course, after a while the Army stared paying people by-the-kill.  With
$100.00 apiece, some soldiers were raking in the cash.  Being a soldier became
the "rags-to-riches" deal, where if you were a good killer you could go from
broke to well off in a number of days.  Benny decided he'd leave the Armed
Forces after his term, which was only a month or so to go.  

     All his friends and the rest of his platoon got rich from killing so many
enemies.  Granted, it was a "high risk" job, but in a single day you could
take 5-6 enemy troops on average, and that's money in your pocket.  Still, the
thought of killing made Benny sick, it was bad enough seeing his own platoon
mow down everyone, old men, children, pregnant women, little girls, cats named
"Rover", old grandmas, and one-month-old babies.  Seven days before his term
ended, during one of the "runs" of the platoon, Benny suddenly felt the urge. 
And he suddenly knew how to use a gun also.  
     Taking his pistol, Benny took careful aim at not the girl running through
the burning village, the old grandma, or the newborn baby wrapped in blankets,
but at his own commanding officer's head.  He released the safety and fired. 
Wham!  Instant recognition, he thought.  He mowed down three more in the back
with unnatural speed before his platoon even figured what was going on. 
Someone hit him in the other leg, and in his hand, before he killed the other
three in his platoon.
     The only break to the silence was Benny taking his gun, raising it,
firing off the rest of the shots into the air, and throwing it back at the
ground.  The people in the village stopped panicking and trying to flee when
they noticed what had happened, and all was silent.
     As the girl, the old grandma, and the cat named rover, and the newborn
infant wrapped in blankets knelt before him in gratitude and spoke in a
language he could not understand, Benny signed.  He looked upward, back at the
people, and then at the burning village.  "Now that, milord, is a work of art.
Thank you."