The Indirect Effects of War

There you are, everything seeming to have turned out in your favor.  Even though you hadn’t passed your courses through officer training, you made out well enough to be stationed behind the safe walls of the military base, miles away from the front lines.  Man, having parents with lots of money really changes everything, you think to yourself.  You’ll probably never see any real action during your whole tour.  You’re pretty much untouchable.

The only real thing you have to worry about is the General, who also lives there on the base.  You’ve heard that if he catches you acting even the least bit funny, you’ll get to clean the latrines for weeks.  Luckily, you don’t see him around much.  He hides away in his own private barracks, probably spending most of his time pondering strategy, planning out his attacks and counter attacks.  Some say he’s brilliant, but you haven’t the faintest idea of what happens out there on the battlefield, so it doesn’t make a lick of difference.

You do happen to see the General’s daughter every once in a while outside their residence. She has long straight hair, hanging down to her waist in a single shimmer wave of blonde.  The reminds you of a barbie doll, and probably lives like one too.  Somewhere you hear about her losing her mother several years ago, which is why she lives on the base.  The General probably gets her everything she could ever want, so I doubt she minds it in the slightest.

One night, you find yourself on the night patrol inside of the General’s private barracks. Who knows why they require a guard at all times, but the protocol calls for it nonetheless. It’s not like there is anybody within miles who could attack this location, let alone get within the walls of the compound.  You wander the dark halls, hoping for something bad to happen, just enough to break up the monotony.

You jump at the sight of a shadow around the corner.  The one other guard on patrol isn’t even on this floor.  You relax as you see her come into view… the general’s daughter, dressed in a flowery nightgown, on her way back to her room from using the bathroom. The girl nods to you sleepily as you pass each other, and she enters her room down the hall.

You put your patrol on hold while you tiptoe back to her door to find it closed tight. Pressing your ear close to the wood, you can hear nothing but the sound of your breathing, slowly becoming heavier.  You wait a few minutes before reaching for the handle.  It twists easily, and you crack the door open with a barely audible squeak.  You can see the girl laying in bed asleep, draped in the orange glow of the security lights outside.

Moving in closer, you get a good glimpse of her and her room.  It’s very Mattel as you had guessed.  You catch yourself staring at her.  Before you can muster up the strength to pull yourself away, her eyes flick open and they meet yours.  They go wide, and her mouth opens up, ready to scream.  You quickly jump on her, covering her mouth with your hand. She starts to flail, muffled yells coming from behind your hand.  You tell her to stop, but she doesn’t.  After a bit, she does.  The girl is laying there motionless, and you return to your patrol, shutting the girl’s door after you.

The next day, the lieutenant gives an announcement that the General will be taking some time off for personal leave.  You are continuously looking over your shoulder for someone to come interrogate you, but they never do.

A week later, the General hasn’t been heard from.  The lieutenant is giving orders to the front line now.  Another week and you hear the news of a defeat, and the line being pushed for the first time in months.  The next week a similar story is reported.  People begin to talk of having to abandon the base if the enemy gets any closer.

The General doesn’t return, and the newspapers print pictures of towns being evacuated, scared away by the enemy forces on the horizon.  On the next page, the General’s daughter in a tiny coffin, being lowered into the ground.

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