(Author's note: This is an excerpt I got from a conversation with an ex-army veteran-turned-merc. Yes, it is a *SPOILERS ABOUND* vampire he was talking about, he was Irish, and he'd been halfway across the world. If you'd seen his eyes like I have, then you'd be reminded of a car running without fuel, empty, running on fumes. He had no life in him left. This is to the memory of the beer he shared with us on one long, empty road when our car broke down.)
Life. So yeah, this was it. So saying, I strolled down memory lane.
Years back we walked this lane, cowboy hats, cigars and beer were our companions. We walked carefree and so nakedly naive.
And look what came out of it.
Twenty years gives me enough leeway to gripe about it. But it's like watching Clint Eastwood in Gran Turismo; the older you get, the more attached you get to something, that irrational sort of attachment that forms after you clasp your hands around the handles, feel the texture on your skin.
I shouldered the rifle. I didn't want it, but then, in our teenage, it was what we lived for. We didn't care who the hell wanted a revolution; all we wanted was the glory of battle.
You know the thing about the glory of battle? Once you're shooting, all that's really there is adrenaline, fueled by a desire to live. All you want to do is stay alive, and you really don't care who you shoot, who you kill, to stay that way.
In a fight, there is no time to out-think or outsmart your opponents. That's why the think-tanks arm themselves with beer and binoculars, and stake out a cushy spot in the treeline.
And they stay there. By large that's the advantage of rank. Apart from that, everyone's got to die, sooner or later.
I buried all of my friends, and all of my family. I buried three commanders, and three platoons of recruits.
Do you know about that story, where a vampire, full of his power, drunk on his strength, goes to travel the world? He enjoys his life, he samples every pleasure from Mexico to Manchester, goes east, north, south and then to Australia, the boot of the world.
When he finally returns, his head full to bursting with experiences, his tongue waiting to wag, all that waits for him at home is death.
His family's dead twice over; two generations of his immediate family who grew up without knowing him, and the third doesn't recognise him or believe him.
And so he is doomed to wander the Earth, and Death laughs at him; "If I cannot have you," Death jeers, "then you can have no one."
And so do I wander. All that's left for me is the fighting. I stopped caring a long time ago who I was fighting for. All I know is that someone pays me enough for a few more days' worth of food and drink. Hell, he even pays for the fucking bullets and the rifle oil. You think I care about the glory of our revolution?
I don't. If you live long enough, you won't, either.
You want advice? Die young, kid, or live someone else's life. It's not worth living as long as I have in this shithole... and if you think my scars are something to be proud of, then wait until you get some of your own. When you stop screaming, come to my tent, and I'll drink to your health- or at least, to your chances of staying alive tomorrow.
Other than that, all you actually need to know is that if you squeeze the trigger on your rifle, a bullet shatters whatever's in front of it. And when it clicks, then it's time to replace the magazine.
Get going. Dawn's breaking, and I can hear them moving... if you stay alive, come find me, and we'll get drunk and live another night. If you die... then let me raise this glass to you, because I know you'll find more peace in the afterlife.