by James Kitson

© 1993 All Rights Reserved


A band of fog covered the city as the 12th battalion of the Second Marine division advanced into a southern Chicago suburb. Corporal John Riley came up in the rear of his advance scouting platoon which would be the first government unit in the city since the war began. riley was tired after finishing four days of fighting in which he had been lucky to get five hours of rest, not st say sleep. the last two days of fighting had been fought in the rain and the low-hanging clouds that had swept in from Lake Michigan reek of the smoke that came off the burning building and supply dumps that government artillery and aircraft had spent the last week hammering with intense bombardment.

Riley, himself was a recruit that enlisted in the first bit of the war. He followed his classmates as the sounds of patriotism spread through the nation in hope of reuniting it under a single government. He was only sixteen when the red, white and blue banners seduced him into joining the Marines in order to fight the rebels. As for what he was actually fighting for, Riley never really knew. Once the war began the only news he knew was the news that came from the censored government newspapers. The only thing that Riley knew was the shortly before the war began almost the entire executive branch was impeached along with any person in line for the presidency. They were impeached justifiably but immediately afterward General William Blarnard took control of the country, declaring a state of emergency and that free elections would again be held as soon as the government was put back in shape. When General Blarnard took over the country, a large portion of the military refused to accept his legitimacy as leader of the United States and immediately eliminated Blarnard’s control over several regions of the country and they allowed the recently impeached president to become their de facto leader in their fight for supposed freedoms including that of choosing their government.

Riley walked into the suburb of Chicago with his rifle held in a ready but restful position. His unit had been told that there would be little resistance waiting for them in the city, that is if there was to be any resistance. Riley’s clothes were soaked and every time he took a step water swam from the soles of his boots and flooded his feet. As Riley walked through the suburb and he noticed an erie silence. The only sounds came from his platoon and a few burning vehicles and piles of once useful materials. Riley didn’t even take time to notice the amount of damage done to the buildings in the suburb. There was not a building standing as far as could be seen. The road was collapsed in several places showing the sewage tunnels and adding that distinctive smell to the air around Riley. Riley also had a feeling of separation. He felt as if he was with the platoon in an empty plain with no one for hundreds of miles around. It seemed to him as if the city had been turned into an abandoned ghost town. It didn’t even feel like an ambush to Riley, he knew that his platoon was alone.

This was Riley’s third year of fighting with the government. He had long fought the rebels in every different kind of terrain. Riley had bought for so long that the death and destruction of the war had little effect for him. He had separated himself from the new recruits because they were likely to die soon after their first combat and Riley didn’t want to befriend a dead man. Riley had lost a number of friends in the war and by now he had little trust in a man’s ability to live. As for himself he knew that when he was to die he would no longer be a fighting man. he knew that when he was to die he would be dead.

Suddenly, the platoon sergeant yelled something about incoming choppers and that everyone should take cover. Riley ran for cover in a doorway of a former grocery store. As the platoon watched silently, three Apache choppers flew over their position. Everyone stayed perfectly still as the choppers passed over. Just after the Apaches flew over another corporal fired a TOW anti-chopper missile at one of the helicopters. The apache burst into flames and hit the ground with a thunderous roar. The other two choppers turned around and started back in the platoon’s direction. The missile launcher hurriedly tried to reload his rocket launcher. It was too late for him and as soon as the Apaches got to weapon range they opened fire targeting with their infrared detectors. The Apaches 20 millimeter cannons shredded the building that was sheltering the missile launcher and crew. After about ten seconds of fire the choppers turned around and headed for their home base.

As soon as the choppers left the rest of the platoon ran out of hiding to go help the troops that had been hit by the fire. Riley helped the wounded into the cover of a half-burnt-out brick home. The sight of blood and pain caused him little grief because of how often he had been exposed to it before.

After the wounded we taken care of the rest of the platoon continued on it’s way scouting the suburb for resistance. After they had gone nearly four blocks the helicopters returned and the platoon took cover. This time no one fired any rockets and the helicopters let loose a large number of leaflets over the entire suburb, making pass after pass over the ruined buildings and leaving a large number of leaflets flung all over the sky.

Though it was forbidden to read these leaflets, Riley followed the example set by his platoon and picked up one and read it. The leaflet held passages of the constitution that reflected the reasons why the rebels were fighting. Such things as rights to free speech and the ability of the people to choose their own government were discussed. Riley soon succumbed tot he pamphlets persuasive powers and for the first time he came to realize what he was actually fighting for. The Government that he had enlisted under failed to adhere to the Constitutional that they had said that they were fighting for.

Soon after the platoon got moving again, riley went to the rear of the platoon and then he quietly slipped away into an alley that still stood between two rows of demolished buildings. He no longer knew who to believe or what he was going to do but he refused to fight under a leader that did what Riley was told he was fighting against.

So Riley did as many do in wars fought between those who believe the same but think they are different. Riley decided that he was fighting for something that he didn’t support and he left to find out exactly what he did believe in.

The End