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Thursday, April 26, 2018

Microstory 829: Broad Side of a Barn

My squad is by no stretch the imagination an elite team, but we are known for being reckless and crazy. We move into dangerous situations without thinking, we disarm bombs without blast suits, and there was even one time we attached our ankles to the back of a train, and let it drag us. You kind of had to be there for our choice to make any real sense. If we were part of a real military force, we would each and every one of us have been relieved of duty long ago. But this isn’t your average contingency, and we’re not fighting an average war. Technically the people we’re fighting are aliens, but technically they’re not. Experts aren’t sure how it happened, but ancient aliens appear to have displaced half of our populations thousands of years ago. They progressed scientifically faster than us, and recently came back. Their first target was the real military. It was gone before we knew what hit us. Fortunately, their plan to dismantle our government was about as far as they had figured out, so after they succeeded, they didn’t really know what they were going to do, or what they were up against. New military factions sprung up to fill the void, and though we were less trained, our enemy no longer had the benefit of surprise. In response to our persistence, our alien brethren just up and left the planet, and for a time, things were okay. The only active members of the military were people like us, who had grown too used to the life, and fancied ourselves new ad hoc police. We didn’t do our jobs very well, though, because a new conflict began right under our noses.

Known as the Barn Wars, these were fought between opposing factions, many of whom did not personally fight in the Human Aliens War. Resources were thin on our blue planet, and everyone started realizing the only way they were going to live was if they became farmers. The cities were just too torn apart to do anybody any good. There wasn’t enough farmland to go around,though, so the fighting continued. My squad and I found ourselves in the middle of a fight in an actual barn, perpetuating a more literal interpretation of the name of the war. We quickly realized we had fought in this particular barn many years ago. A member of our squad, and one of my best friends, sacrificed himself so that the rest of us could escape. But he was here, alive and fighting, as if no time had passed for him, except now he was on the other side. Though he was completely okay with killing anyone else, he hesitated to do me any harm, so this gave me time to ask him what the hell was going on. All he said was that he had been against us the entire time, but he didn’t say why, or what he was meant to accomplish by infiltrating our group. The battle ended, and we went our separate ways. It was one of the last of the Barn Wars, because few people were even left alive to fight, and those that were had little competition. Anyone who still wanted to farm was able to do so in peace. A few weeks later, my former friend hunts me down, and admits that he was actually a double agent; that he was just trying to gather information for us. I don’t believe him at first, but then he says he’s discovered the Barn Wars were fabricated by the alien humans. They were designed to lower our population, so they could come back, and more easily take over. This is apparently going to happen in only two more weeks, so now I have to decide if I don’t believe him, or if I’m going to agree to work with, and try to warn all surviving factions.

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