The Bad Things
by Eduardo Pereira
My name is Sam and I'm dead, or at least I'm as good as dead anyway. I've seen myself die actually. I've seen myself lying there in the hospital dead, the quality of life already gone from my features. The heart monitor flat lines and I die, my heart simply gives up its beating. The hospital has been instructed by my father to not attempt resuscitation. The hospital attendants don't care, really. Death is a common occurrence and they grow hardened to it. Imagine how horrible their jobs would be for them if they cared about everyone who died. I can watch myself at my own funeral to. No one is there but my sister, she was the only one that even really cared about me.
Maybe I should explain myself. I have the ability to see everything. Well maybe not everything, but I can see mostly anything I want to, as long as it happened on earth. I can wander about time and space as a spectral observer; sometimes I forget that I am still alive. I'm actually in a coma, one from which I will never wake. Death is always waiting for me; the darkest oblivion waits patiently to consume me. I am offered no hope, try as I might I can not change anything.
The reason I am in a coma is because of what happened during the War. I was a solider in the New Eden Army during the South American conflict. We were fighting the war with the newly formed Brazilian empire in an attempt to achieve the New Manifest Destiny.
The New Eden Coalition, they told us, was God's instrument of his divine will. Formed in the aftermath of WWIII the remains of Canada and Mexico were acquisitioned by the new government of America under the name, The New Eden Coalition. They promised us that it was God's divine will for us to take over the whole New World, and create a paradise here on earth, a New Eden. I suppose the Old Eden wasn't any good any more as it was probably destroyed in the nuclear fallout.
I had been drafted into the New Eden army at eighteen. I didn't give much thought to being drafted and all; I am used to doing what I'm told. My father didn't really care too much either. He did believe in the war though, so it was worthy cause for his son to die for. My mother had committed suicide a long time ago, so she wasn't around to see her son go off to war. It wasn't such a bad thing being in the army. After all, in New Eden soldiers enjoyed a decent lifestyle. New Eden was a meritocracy, only those that proved they deserved something got anything. Those that served the greater good of the state could expect to be rewarded. My reward was a bullet lodged in my brain and omniscient dreaming.
I can go back and watch myself in the war whenever I want. In fact I can go back and see the exact moment the bullet from a Brazilian soldier's gun pierces my skull and causes me to slip into a coma. I don't know why I see all these things in my dreams. Maybe it's all the chemicals in the air, maybe it's the stuff they put in our food, or maybe I'm simply insane and none of this is true. I think that it is most likely God punishing me though.
I go back and see myself on my first day in the actual war. We had been rushed through basic training and immediately sent to the battlefield. We were mostly all just a bunch of kids, scared shitless. We thought had been desensitized to this kind of horrific imagery through television; there was a lot of this kind of stuff on during WWIII. Still, to be there in person, it's completely different. Not that I saw the worst of it though, my regiment wasn't on the front lines. We did what was called “clean-up”. We went into territories that had already been dominated by the forward units and simply took care of any remaining resistors from the B.E.'s army. Then we rounded up as many surrendered soldiers and civilians who were combat worthy. Then it was the job of the officers, who came in shortly after us to induct them into the New Eden Army. They would be armed right there, and usually they would receive little to no training. It was our job to shoot those that wouldn't fight, or anyone who would retain loyalty to their homeland, rather than swear their allegiance to us. So it goes.
Along with the Recruitment Officers our unit was called The New Inquistioners. We got this name because we were cleansing the earth of the impure. Those that opposed New Eden stood in the way of God's divine will.
Sometimes I like to see what life was like throughout history. I saw a lot of lessons that people didn't learn because we kept repeating the same mistakes. I see the bad things people did in WWII and America's extermination of the Indians. I think maybe we are just designed this way. I think God's laughing at us because he made rules contrary to the nature he gives us, and he laughs and laughs because of how he tricks us.
I can see the first time I killed anyone. We came in to a recently conquered region and through loudspeakers mounted on a tank ordered all the townsfolk out of their houses. Sometimes we'd go into certain and drag them out if we suspected people were hiding in there. Mostly they were willing to come out. Most people are used to doing what they are told. The officers ordered the civilians up against the wall. They Orator came and gave his perfectly crafted speech coercing the Brazilians to abandon their homeland. New Eden was the start of a brave new world, in which everyone would live in happiness. By participating in New Eden's cause they would be doing the work of the lord, not to mention be paid a decent wage and be well taken care of. Nearly everyone joined, everyone wanted to believe that things would get better and most people were used to doing what they were told… There was only one woman who refused to join the fight. She said that she did not believe in fighting or killing and that any paradise created by shedding blood was not worth it, and indeed was no paradise at all because a paradise had no spilled blood in its soil. When it was clear that she would not submit I was ordered to shoot her. Without hesitation I fired a 5.56mm round into her head. There could be no question; this was part of God's divine will.
I watch everything. I sometimes feel bad about those things I did in the war. I used to try, try real hard to see if I could somehow change things and make them better, to stop myself from doing the bad things I did. The whole world was rotten, what chance did I have? New Eden promised us that they would make things not so rotten anymore. In fact they promised us that New Eden would end up being just the opposite of rotten, it would be rapture. I really wanted to believe them. We all did, everyone wanted to believe things would get better and that this world really wasn't good enough for us, God loved us and wanted us to have something better.
Sometimes I think that I am actually dead and I am really just in hell. But, then again, I can see good parts of life as well. I don't suppose they'd let me see the good parts if I was in hell. Then again, maybe they would. I can go back and watch my mom and dad get married. I can see my mom walking up the aisle, bouquet shaking because she was so nervous. My dad was nervous too, but excited. They were both so happy before my dad's failure in life, before his alcoholism, before her mind went bad.
I can also see my sister and I as kids. I can watch the time we walked far out away from the city as possible. We wanted to get far away from the people in the city, and far away from our father. My sister and I were real close since we were the only who really cared about each other since our mother committed suicide.
I can watch that to, my mom's suicide. The doctors had said she suffered from manic depression and schizophrenia. My father didn't believe in all this, said that it was the work of the devil and she could only be cured by the grace of the good lord. I can watch her as she slits her wrists the kitchen knife. She cuts real deep to make sure she dies. My sister and I were the ones to find her lying in the kitchen covered with so much blood, we had seen things like that on TV.
It seems we all get more bad parts of life than good, and I can't help but watch my own bad parts. I should just watch the good things so I could have a peaceful, but it's the bad things we are morbidly obsessed with. We think, if only we could change those things our lives would be perfect. I wonder how perfect our lives would be really if we could just have no bad things happen. I wonder if the good things still be as good as they are? Or do we only see good by looking through the dark?