Before The War
“aren’t we all just/ Looking for a little bit of hope these days?/
Looking for somebody you can wake up with?/ Looking for a little bit of
hope these days?” -Bastille, “Those Nights”
Everywhere he looked, the party raged. People around him drank, danced, fucked as if war hadn’t just been declared that morning. As if the announcements of military head of the United Nations had just made the decision to post a global draft against that which threatened humanity. Everywhere he looked, distraction and drugs were becoming one with each other. No one wanted to admit that the impending war terrified them. No one wanted to admit that humanity’s chance of winning against enemy forces were slim to none. No one wanted to admit that humanity’s own enemy was itself. Humanity created their enemies. Created their own demise when they decided DD-BAST3 (or Earth 2 as it was nicknamed) was suitable for life, despite the life already on it.
With a heavy breath and a pounding headache, Riley entered the second-floor bathroom. Any minute his parents would be home. They would discover the party in full swing. His mother’s face would turn a vivid shade of tomato red. His father’s face would be bright scarlet. Riley didn’t care. So many thoughts were going through his mind. He had always been on the side of humanity. He had always been “loyal to Earth.” He went to rallies; he donated money. He was the first to say “I want in” when a global tragedy nearly put humanity on the edge. Because of his limp—one of his legs was shorter than the other—the military had told Riley that his service was not needed. A nice way of saying, “you’re useless.” It hurt to hear those words. It confused him that no other positions he applied for denied him. It made him angry that people thought to be disabled or getting denied by the military meant he was “dumb” or “completely useless.” He wanted, no needed, to join the fight.
He’d been denied so many times in the past months by so many people. But with the chances of winning so low, was it a risk he should take? Was it really worth risking his life just to lose? He understood why the enemies of Earth did what they did. Humanity invaded Earth 2 without any regard of the life already there. Humanity saw nothing but a home that was ruined by their greed and a home that was brand new, with blue skies and crystal waters. Riley’s life wasn’t so bad. He managed to, somehow, find a girl that was interested in him. Her father worked for a factory which tested and assembled various weapons. Perhaps, if Riley talked to him, he could get a job there.
Riley ran a hand through his hair and gave a frustrated sigh. “If” was a word that ran through his head. If he asked her father—if he got that job. If he really thought it was necessary even to support the war effort. If he really thought it was worth it when humanity was likely to get its ass kicked.
“Why can’t I figure this out?” Riley asked his reflection. “I can have the life I want. Why am I hesitating?” Naturally, no answer. If there was, Riley was likely to question his sanity. He was now, as, outside his door, the house was silent. Were his parents home? He didn’t hear the familial pounding of his father’s footsteps on the stairs. He didn’t hear his mother’s angry voice. With as much caution as possible, Riley opened the bathroom door. As he opened it all the way, something heavy fell to the bathroom floor.
It was a dead body. Riley froze. His pulse pounded like drums in his ears. His hands shook. Just down the hallway was the retreating form of the very thing Earth was going to war with.