The Return by Tyler Kresch

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SUMMARY: A flash fiction contest submission in which a questionably sane ex-soldier realizes the "war" is not over.

It's been four years since I left the corps.

No, not the army corps, you know what I'm talking about. Don't you?

The corporations, of course.

What, you haven't figured it out yet? Just who the hell do you think you're fighting anyway, the government? Hah, good one. There hasn't been a government in twenty years.

Oh, sure, you've got Darin Fischer and Dane Maverick running for mayor again, that has to be legit, don't it? Well let's put it this way. Maverick's with the corps. He'll win. Look for Fischer having an accident in the next few weeks. It'll be a suicide of course, with no other possible explanation.

How do I know? Hah, you're just full of these stupid questions aren't you? That's the vicious cycle. Accidents.


Remember eight years ago when Molotov was killed by a member of his own cabinet? Or the next election when Sweeny disappeared leaving only a note of goodbye to his wife and kids? Accidents of course. Accidents. Accidents I crafted with my own hand.

*You're a murderer*

You should leave. You're in way over your head. The path you're goin' down doesn't ever come back out of the woods.

*You know better than that*

Why the hell did you come the me if you didn't even know about the fucking corporations?

*Nobody knows about the corporations.*

Who said that? Who are you?

Who am I? I'm just a goddamn drunk who lost it after the war. That's what they say, isn't it? Well it suits my purposes just fine. As far as the corps know, John Tell is dead, and I rather like being deceased.

*But that wasn't your name before...*

My name...? What was my name...? What was before?

Why am I telling you all this? Hah, well, to be honest, I don't have a fucking clue.

*But you do...*

I like your face. I'm gonna let you in on a little secret.

*They'd kill you if they knew*

There is a war going on. Right underneath your nose.

*Which side do you fight for?*

I'm done with it all. I finally got out, and I'm happy where I am.

*You're not happy*

But sometimes, I have these dreams...

*But sometimes, I have these dreams...*

Who are you!?

*Who are you?*

What do you want with me!?

*What do you want with me?*

I left the corps, it's over.

*It's not over. It'll never be over*

Who are you?

*Look in the mirror, John*


*That's your name, isn't it?*

John...? No... What's my name?

*It'll never be over*

They took it from me! My name!

*Time to run away again, John. They're coming for you. They'll keep coming for you*

I have to go back.

*You can't go back*

I have to go back.

*I can't go back!*

I'm dreaming. This isn't real.

*Of course not. Things will never be real again*

I have to go back.