The Defector – A Short Story by Shahd ElNaggar
“Aron, are you mental?”
I stared blankly into his eyes, holding back my tears. I wasn’t mental. I wasn’t crazy. I wasn’t a psycho. I was just like everyone else, yet they still forced me to take the pills. Sometimes I wonder why they even put me here in the first place. Even though technically I wasn’t supposed to be here, it was the only place I would fit, at least that’s what they kept saying.
The words kept playing in my head over and over again.
‘Aron, y-you’re not normal, you can’t stay here with these people. You’ll ruin their lives just like you ruined ours.’
Did they ever think that what they were saying wouldn’t hurt me? Sometimes I start to believe what they say is true. But they’ll never ever listen to me, they’ll just throw me back into this battlefield, like a killing machine, with a bottle of pills and no purpose. The pills never work. Putting drugs down my throat can’t change me, because I will always be who I was born to be.
I was awoken by deep voices yelling in my ears. A siren was playing in the background, and everyone was running around, putting their bullet-proof vests on and loading their pockets with bullets. I had fallen asleep in the corner of this dark room, with no idea of what had had transpired before. Everything was happening so fast. The soldiers were running around like madmen, meanwhile I was just lost.
“Nathan, what’s happening?”, I asked.
“We’re under attack, stop sitting around like that and actually do something for once!”
I reached into my left pocket and pulled out the bottle of pills, making sure no one saw me with them. Even though I was convinced they didn’t work, I swallowed one, because if they did work, then I wouldn’t be taking the risk of them finding out about whatever was wrong with me. They would take me to an institution, and I cannot express how afraid I am of that place. I’ve heard what they do to people in there, how they treat them like ruthless murders, and how they tie them up and make them go more insane than they already are.
I expected to encounter the bitter aftertaste of the pill, but instead tremendous pain pierced through my body. My legs felt numb, but they regained their normal state after a few seconds. I stood up and realized that I was shaking furiously. I heard a bomb from outside of the bunker, and it shocked me enough to stop me from shaking.
“Aron. Get your stuff. Now.”
I quickly put my vest on and grabbed an M15 from the armory box. What was out there? I heard the blows of the bullets and the screaming emerge from the open door of the bunker.
Nathan was standing at the door, ready to enter the blood battle. He looked back at me and I could see the fear in his eyes.
“Stay alive,” he stuttered. Then he jumped through the door as if he was leaping off of a plane without a parachute. I saw him run as fast as he could and point the gun at the enemy. He shot perhaps 5 bullets before dropping on the floor. I thought he had been shot, but he stood up and kept fighting.
Why was I standing here and doing nothing? I was the only one left in the bunker anyways. I took a deep breath and I ran faster than I have ever ran before. The air was cold and the rain struck me in the face. I stopped and faced the mass of men and the weapons pointing directly at me. I froze completely until I heard something yell at me. “What are you doing?! Run. Or you’ll die.”
I finally escaped the trance I was in after hearing that voice yell at me. I ran towards my army’s side. I maneuvered through the soldiers, looking for the person who was yelling at me. Why was I so interested in it? It just sounded so…familiar.
“Aron what do you think you’re doing? You complete idiot, there’s people shooting at us and you decide to be an utter retard about it, good job,” Nathan screamed at me.
How could he talk to me like that? I wasn’t a retard, and as I stated multiple times before, there was nothing wrong with me, I just got distracted easily.
I started shooting back at the rivals, the bullets flying through the air and being returned back. It was bloodshed as I watched the lives around me drop to the floor and become carcasses. I didn’t know what to do anymore and returned back to my daze of blankness. Time sort of froze at that moment on. Even the amount of bullets being shot had slowed down, and the battle calmed. I thought about what Nathan said to me, and perhaps it bothered me more than I reckoned. ‘Retard’. The word replayed itself in my head until the voice who I was looking for earlier appeared again.
“I can tell something’s bothering you. Is it what he said to you?”
“I guess. Do you think he meant it?” I replied.
“Didn’t you see how he said it? He definitely meant it. Why wouldn’t he? I mean, look at yourself,” their deep voice stated.
Before I could reply, my eyes felt dizzy and it felt like they had been turned around in some odd way. I couldn’t really see what was going on in the battlefield. Then, I could make out who was talking to me. It was just a figure, and I couldn’t completely distinguish its features.
Expectedly, Nathan had returned with another absurd comment towards me. “Oh my god, Aron, I am seriously this close to shooting you in the face. You’re going to get yourself killed. Stop standing there and staring into space. You’ve been talking to yourself for the past 5 minutes.”
I couldn’t take it anymore, I mean, why would he talk to me like that? He treats me like a drone to his orders. Why was I supposed to listen to him?
“Aren’t you going to do something? You know what, I’ll make you a deal. You kill on my command, and I’ll get you out of here. They’ll never find you. You’ll be free,” the voice proposed.
This could possibly be my only way out of here. I could escape from society, from this war, from the insults, from the inciting, and from the pills. I decided I would agree to the proposal. Even if I had to ‘kill on command’, or whatever that meant.
“Okay,” I replied, “I’ll do it. Where do we start?”
“Kill Nathan,” they demanded.
“You heard me. He deserves it anyways. How could someone talk to you like that?”
I thought about it for a few seconds. After all, this could mean freedom. And Nathan had already been so harsh to me. So, I decided to do it. I loaded the M15 with what was left of my ammo, and I turned towards the soldiers on my side. My fingers were shaking, then, I pulled the trigger. What I hadn’t realized was, this was just the beginning and there was more to come. A hole had been implanted in Nathan’s head, and his body fell and hit the dirt.
“I did it,” I directed towards the voice. “I killed him.”
“Good. Now eliminate what’s left of your army. Freedom awaits,” the voice declared.
Yet again, I would do anything for freedom, the thing I’ve been searching for all my life. I loaded the gun yet again. For the second time, I pointed the gun at the soldiers. But this time I didn’t just pull the trigger, I held it. Bullet after bullet, death after death, I got closer to the freedom I had been told of. I was so close that I could just feel it.
“Now, I need you to kill me,” the voice declared.
There was one bullet left in my gun, and as they ordered, I pulled the gun up to my head and killed the voice.
I was free.
By: Shahd ElNaggar