Sunday, December 26, 2010

Christmas on the Battlefield



...Christmas Day.

Mid-afternoon. The lights in the tree have been twinkling since sunrise. Silent flames dance in scarlet cheer from the gas fireplace. Through the front window the world rests quietly in gray doldrums, the air thick with moisture. Occasionally a car drifts by, its exhaust fumes dissipating like scattering leaves in the wind...and the holiday is observed.

Meanwhile, a lone soldier clings an uzi to his waist as he rolls behind the wreckage from a recently destroyed apartment building, bullets slicing through the air overhead.

His chinstrap unclasps, causing his helmet, once olive, now blanketed in dust, to slide over his vision as he awaits the throbbing in his ears to settle.

He opens his eyes, sensing the sting of grit and tiny pieces of shrapnel floating like angry hornets through the paltry air. In the distance he can now hear the voices of his enemy, calling out to one another in foreign tongue. If only he could understand their jargon...

From his belt the two-way radio chirps. What remains of the rest of his squadron, calling out to him. He quickly taps the receiver with a forefinger, turning the radio off. The voices fall silent. How far did the sound travel? Has his whereabouts been discovered?

He rises to a sitting position behind the brick husk of what was once the home to many civilians and their children, no doubt long gone by now.

He can hear the thudding of combat boots approaching. Small plumes of dust rising from earth's scarred surface. The sound of many, from different angles.

Realizing he's cornered, he clutches the sub-machine gun with both hands and looks up through the soot to the sun above. It's the same ball of flame he's seen countless times throughout his life. But from this strange, desolate place, it's somehow different. Not as friendly. It's managed to absorb the turbulence of an unforgiving mountainside surrounding him, the blazing sand under his torn fatigues, and the vacant angst expressed upon the faces of the few survivors left behind. The one's he's fighting to protect. The same one's willing to turn on him without a moment's hesitation.

He exhales a breath, voices a prayer through a hoarse whisper. A mouthful of dust, and lips chapped like scorched asphalt. Then he grips his weapon, releases a fearful whine, and turns toward the oncoming assault...

"Aww man! Got shot again!" my son exclaims, bent over in frustration. He slams a fist upon the carpeted floor, his legs crossed Indian-style in front of the television. I glance up from the book I'm reading. The Sony reveals a downed soldier lying in a pool of blood, a few splatters trickling like raindrops on the screen.

I look at my son, clutching his XBox controller as if wielding The Hobbit's magical ring and refusing to relinquish its power. Still bent over in defeat, his eyes find my gaze from across the room. The corner of his mouth curls up in a grin. "Care if I try again?" he asks.

I roll my eyes, shrug my shoulders, and return to my book.

"You're going down, lousy terrorists!" my son bellows.

Then I hear the eery background music. Moments later I hear the guns.

Christmas 2010. "Call of Duty: Black OPS Edition."

...Jeez, I'm getting old:)

Thanks for reading.

18 comments:

DEZMOND said...

the part in the end, with your son and what he does and says is sooo indescribably sad on many different levels ....

Donna Hole said...

Yes, the scene at my house all day yesterday too. And every day through this holiday vacation.

Strange what Americans are doing with their free time *sad sigh*

Lets just hope this is not a real scene anywhere in the world right now . .

......dhole

Ah; very appropriate word verif so I had to share: blesses.

Roland D. Yeomans said...

Merry Christmas Day After, Elliot!

Yes, I imagine there is noise and clamor a'plenty today, echoing from yesterday's laughter.

May this New Year find you on the bestseller list! Only the best for you and your family, Roland

Elliot Grace said...

...couldn't agree more, Dez. The violence our youth are subjected to as a form of entertainment is troubling. Under my roof we only allow the teenager access to these games, trusting his maturity capable of handling such foolishness. And well...it really can be a knock 'em sock 'em good time:) Those graphics are ridiculous!
Merry Christmas to you as well, Roland. I'm hoping the coming year finds your name in a place destiny's foretold...on the shelves at Barnes & Noble.
Donna, the interview on your blog was enlightening. Well done:) Wishing you and yours a prosperous and healthy New Year!

EL

Finding Words said...

I'm glad to hear the little soldier is home safe under your his father's where prayers seem to be easily heard as a child.

Anne Gallagher said...

You always write such powerful posts Elliot. And this was no different.

I hope your Christmas was exceptionally fantastic! You deserve it.

The Golden Eagle said...

It's a startling contrast between what's real and what's virtual.

I hope you had a wonderful Christmas weekend!

Jemi Fraser said...

Those games really are realistic! Hope you and your family are having an amazing holiday! :)

Lola Sharp said...

I love playing playing (xbox) Left 4 Dead (2)...killing zombies is very satisfying.

I hope you and yours had a lovely Christmas.

Happy 2011!
Love,
Lola

Ian said...

bravo

Raquel Byrnes said...

Its like you were spying on us. My kids played with their new Wii games all day...thanks to their grandparents we have quite a few more. What fun time.
Edge of Your Seat Romance

Helen Ginger said...

Games have changed since I was a child. They've even evolved (not always for the better) since my kids were little. I'm almost afraid of what will come after I'm gone.

rama said...

Hello Elliot, long time, since we got in touch with each other.
But now is the time to wish you and your family a very Happy New Year.
Have great year, and many more happy new years in your life!

G.~ said...

At first this made me sad, then when I got to the part where it let me know it was just a video game, I had to smile.

Well done Elliot.

"It's not how old you are, it's how you are old." ~Ted Nugent

Happy New Year to you and your family Elliot.

Terry Stonecrop said...

Well done. The ending made me feel better. Well, a little. Too much violence everywhere.

I'm wishing you a Happy, Successful New Year!:)

Elliot Grace said...

...wishing all of you a happy and safe New Year's Eve. Be merry and raise your glasses to a fresh start, a new beginning, yet another chance at achieving your goals, for they're all worth the struggle once lightning strikes:)

EL

JUST ME said...

I picture George Bush playing that same game and yelling the same things...

Adeeva Afsheen said...


Banned complain !! Complaining only causes life and mind become more severe. Enjoy the rhythm of the problems faced. No matter ga life, not a problem not learn, so enjoy it :)

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