Fiction: Ronald Bell
NEW BIRTH ARMY
I wake grabbing my chest as if my heart is pushing its way out and I’m trying to stop it. I struggle to catch my breath. Just another nightmare.
“Are you ok, Ivory?” Jennie rolls over and asks.
“Yeah. I’m ok, just a little shaken up,” I say to put her at ease. She accepts my lie and rolls back into a deep sleep.
Jennie is my best friend, well a little more than that. She is my girlfriend. But everyone else only knows she is a friend that lives with me. Truth is Jennie is the closest thing I have to family.
My parents died years ago for protesting the government. Slaughtered like pigs in cold blood. I was orphaned by the age of 12. I met Jennie when I was 13; she never knew her parents and I had lost mine—so we comforted each other in a way no one else could understand. If anyone knew about our relationship, well that would spell big trouble for us, especially with me being in the army.
When I made my decision to join the army she was the only one who stood by me even though it was hard for her to understand why I would do such a thing. For a while she couldn’t look me in the eyes, but how could she? I’m joining the very army that hunted and killed people like us. Hell. For a while I didn’t know why I had enlisted either; I figured it was the only way to insure that Jennie would be safe at all costs.
I’ll never know if she understands what I’m doing to protect her. I hate that I have to do the things that I do and I hate this God forsaken nation, a nation that hasn’t seen peace in so many years, 15 long dreadful years to be exact. Death has plagued America; families have been torn apart out of fear.
The one to blame for this is a man who goes by the name of Curtis J. Caldwell, though I think of him as the deranged President of the United States. He’s a modern-day Hitler in the eyes of many people, but to some, he’s the second coming of Christ. He’s an extreme Christian who is hell-bent on cleansing the world of its sins and ushering in a new era of the perfect Christian people. A man of many secrets and great power. No one is quite sure how he got into office or if he was even on the damn ballot. But the reality is: he’s America’s commander-and-chief, and he rules with an iron fist.
President Caldwell dislikes many things, but has a special hatred for homosexuals. It all started with denying gays and lesbians the right to get married; quite honestly I never thought it matters who got married. But it matters to him. Laws banning homosexuals from certain areas in the country were put into action. The states Hades and Hellfire were created only for homosexuals. They are horrible places with poor living conditions.
Later, he turned to showing gays that they had no place to live in this world. I was 14 years old when he ordered his first live execution. That day will forever be wired into my brain. The condemned was a man named James Allen. He was a gay talk show host and the face of gay rights, a very outgoing man who wasn’t afraid to show who he was. He challenged the president with passion. Well, Caldwell made an example out of Mr. Allen and beheaded him right in Time Square. The act struck fear into the eyes of the whole nation. I had never seen so much blood before. Things only got worst from there. He created the New Birth Army, his own little private police force to do his bidding.
In the morning, I wake to the smell of coffee. I slowly get dressed; when I’m done, I look in the mirror for a while. The gray uniform fits me too well and it sickens me. Sergeant Ivory Stone sits on my chest. I walk into the kitchen to grab coffee. Jennie is sitting at the table wearing her pink baseball cap. Her long black hair drapes over her shoulders. She frowns at the sight of me.
“I hate that damn uniform on you. It’s evil. I can’t wait for today to be over so you can finally be done doing Caldwell’s dirty work.” Jennie says.
I don’t know what to say so I simply agree. “Yeah. I can’t wait either.” I grab my coffee and head over to the base.
Today is my last day in the army, a day I have so long waited for. When I arrive on base, I head to the meeting room. I see Sam coming out of the restroom. He has been a close friend of mine since I enlisted; we went through boot camp together. He is the most gifted soldier I’ve ever been around, like he was born to be one. Our drill sergeants always used to say, “Private Jameson, you are built like a God damned Ford F150.” He’s the pride of the army.
“What’s up, strawberry shortcake?” he says, jokingly referencing my fiery red hair. He always loves to pick on me because he feels a girl shouldn’t be in the man’s army.
“Nothing much, you dumb caveman,” I reply.
“You ready to hunt some fairies today?” he jokes. Sam hates gay people and the idea of gay people as much as President Caldwell.
“Aren’t I always?”
We enter the meeting room. There our superiors hand us a packet. It’s some sort of mission briefing. Great. Just what I need: extra work on my last day. I open it and scan the words quickly. There is supposedly a secret gay rights gathering in Abyss, a town in Hellfire. It is planned to take place on the outskirts of town at an old warehouse. We are ordered to put an end to it. I feel uneasiness in my stomach; I wish I didn’t have to go through with this damn mission.
We load up the jeeps and move out. On our way to the warehouse, Sam is blasting old heavy metal. It’s a dreadful sound. He looks over at me and lowers the volume.
“We hit the jackpot today, didn’t we?” he says with a devilish smirk.
“Yeah, if you say so. Why can’t we just throw them in prison?”
He laughs at my foolish comment. “Why would we do that? They don’t deserve to live in this world. God doesn’t want them here.”
My face starts to burn with rage. “Who are we to make that choice?” I say.
“Whoa there, trooper. You going soft on me? This isn’t your first rodeo. Get your head in the game,” Sam says. He’s right this isn’t my first mission, so why get soft now? We ride the rest of the way in silence.
We arrive at the warehouse and get out of the jeep. The air reeks of death. Sam opens the back and pulls out a bag, which contains explosives.
My jaw drops. “That’s enough gear to level L.A. Why do we need all of that?” I say.
“I want to make sure these freaks are wiped from the face of the earth,” Sam says with a certain sense of joyfulness in his voice.
We search the outside of the warehouse to confirm there is, indeed, a gathering. I spot a window. Too high up for me to look through, so Sam lifts me up. “Damn, Ivory. You put on some weight.”
I simply ignore his joke. As I peer through the dusty window, I see a large group of people. In the background the gay pride flag is up. There is a man who seems to be speaking to the crowd. I look down and confirm that it’s true. “Yeah, we have people inside.” Sam grins with such excitement it scares me.
I continue to look through the window for any other things. And I spot something familiar. At first it doesn’t hit me but seconds later it hits me like a wrecking ball.
“Jennie!” I shout.
Sam looks up at me with confusion. “Who’s Jennie?” he says.
I pause. “No one. Just had a random thought,” I lie between my teeth. My worst fear has just come. I feel my face start to burn and my legs get weak. “Put me down,” I say with haste.
He does. Sam rushes to the jeep to grab the bag.
“Sam, wait a minute. Maybe we should call for backup. There are a lot of people in there. What if we are spotted?”
He shrugs and says, “We’ll be fine. All I have to do is plant a few bombs and, then, boom. Mission complete.”
I feel sick. I quickly think of another excuse. “Maybe we should try talking to them, getting them to go home or something.”
Sam looks at me, annoyed. “Maybe you should go sit in the jeep and let a man do a man’s work.” I’m all out of options.
Why is she in there? I ask myself this over and over again. She should be home. By the time I realize it, Sam is down planting the explosives and is ready to blow the warehouse away. He has the detonator in his hand. If he presses that button, Jennie will be gone forever. At this moment, I regret ever enlisting in this damn army. I have to stop Sam by any means. So I grab at the detonator. Sam pushes me down and stands over me.
“What the hell is your problem, Sergeant Stone?” he yells. “I’m reporting this when we get back to base.”
He walks away from me and I stand up. Sam’s back is turned to me and he starts to count down. I draw my gun and take aim at his back. “I’m sorry!” I pull the trigger. Sam’s body falls in a pool of blood and so does the detonator. “What have I done!?” No one hears me.