End of Story

Raph al Guul

“It’s them – I know it!” Romul knew that their chances were at an all-time low right now. He had to do something before it was too late.
“Don’t shoot, for fuck’s sake. I have a passport! I can prove that we are not the ones you are looking for!” It was time for a desperate move.
“Why didn’t you say so before? Come on. What are you waiting for? Show me your identification already!” The guy who seemed to be the group’s leader was angry. Good. Angry people are bad at aiming.

He slowly moved his hand behind his back to reach his gun. They didn’t seem to suspect anything. In a sideward skidding motion, Romul drew his m1911 and started shooting. This was a moment of exhilarating intensity. He only heard the men scream in surprise and pain. He felt the slow motion of the moment, ticked off targets on his imaginary list: One, two, and a third one. He was aiming at their torsos. Sure, the body armor would protect them from most of the damage, but Romul had to make every shot count just so they couldn’t shoot back. Shooting at the torso was the natural thing to do. He could finish them off afterwards.

He was still moving to the right side, building up momentum, and he started feeling like he was about to fall over. That’s when he was hit in the shoulder. He noticed and he screamed in reaction to the pain, but somehow, it didn’t seem to matter in this moment of life and death. Popping the forth guy – and the fifth – straight to the chest. Romul was good at shooting. Gravity had pulled him down to the ground, but he immediately got up again, ignoring the burning pain that was running down from his shoulder and his neck. Time for the dirty work. He carefully placed a bullet in all the five guys’ heads. Just making sure.

“Timbo!?” Romul turned back to his assistant. Well, he preferred referring to him as his “partner”. The two had been through quite some stuff. They had become a dynamic duo at this point; an old couple – a perfect match. “Timbo, come on! Get up!”
Timbo didn’t move. Romul noticed that he didn’t breathe, either. Shit.
“Come on, man! You can’t give up! Fuck, not now!” Romul didn’t know anything about resuscitation. Somehow blow into the mouth, or something. He knew that he wasn’t able to do anything. He figured he’d check Timbobulus’ pulse – but he was unsure if there wasn’t one or if he just wasn’t able to find it. Romul felt helpless. And angry. And sad. He knew that he had to keep moving. And that his shoulder hurt like hell.

“Timbo- Timbo… I’m so sorry. I guess this is it, buddy. It was nice knowing you.” Romul felt a bit silly. He wasn’t the sentimental type, but this fucked up situation kind of got to him. He was sorry. He felt that what happened was his fault. He got up and heard a crackle from one of the dead men’s radios: “Come in, Charlie squad. Over.” An explosion nearby. A frag or flash grenade, maybe. Those two sounded surprisingly similar. Romul started moving. East of the village, there was a military base that they hopefully had managed to keep secret. In the cover of crumbling walls and collapsing structures, Romul made his way eastwards.

While anxiously trying to stay in cover and move forward, he tried to get his shoulder to stop bleeding. He ripped apart his shirt – he had seen that in some movie once – to make an improvised bandage. It was pretty difficult to tie it around his own shoulder while also applying pressure, especially considering that, at this point, he was hardly able to use his left arm, as it was numb from pain. He eventually crouched behind a burned out car and managed to get the bandage stabilized. It first started soaking with blood, but it seemed to work. For now.

Romul soon found that the entrance to the underground base seemed not yet to have been discovered by the task forces that were crawling all over this god-forsaken place. This was one of the secret weapons- and vehicle-stashes that were scattered across the country. It was no longer guarded. Romul found a working jeep and just when he wanted to turn the ignition, he noticed the RPGs that were stored in one corner of the garage. He grabbed one and put it in the back of the jeep. Just in case. Russian anti-tank grenade launchers could come in handy more often than one might expect. He started the jeep.

His destination was the eastward border. He would act like just another fugitive of war; he would be able to escape the same way his people had managed to cowardly desert Romul himself. He used small roads and pathways that weren’t guarded. From time to time, he heard or saw military choppers at the horizon. But by adjusting his course or simply hiding out for a while, he was never actually encountered by those patrols. His shoulder was on fire; Romul knew that he was up against time. He had to get this taken care of before it was too late. After about three hours of driving, Romul reached the border post weak, exhausted, and hungry. He was aware that he was looking like a crazy homeless person, but that would serve his intentions well.

A bearded guy came from the little border patrol building and approached Romul’s jeep. “Where do you think you’re going?”
Romul answered with a deliberately sobby, dramatic voice: “Please, I just want to get away from here! My wife, my children, they were killed mercilessly. I have nothing left but my own life!”
The words seemed to have their effect. “Another fugitive, eh. Do you have a passport or any means of identification?”
“I… all I have is this jeep I stole from a group of vandalizing, raping, murdering soldiers. I couldn’t pack anything. Please don’t send me back! I have been shot…”
The bearded guy glanced at the jeep and then at Romul’s shoulder. “Alright, then. We will have to take your information anyway.”
He turned his head back to the building and yelled: “Charlie! Come on out here!”

Romul suddenly felt like the world around him had started spinning, jumping up and down, himself in the middle, trying to hold on for dear life. The pain radiating from the tiny bullet stuck in his shoulder numbed his senses. His conscience started circling the drain, which made way for blind, utter anger. An uncontrollable fury took hold of him. Everything he had worked for his entire life had been destroyed, taken from him. Even his own body was about to break down, give up. It was true that all that was left was his mere life. And these assholes, the beardy guy and this… this Charlie… they were the epitome of his failure. He, a fugitive in his own country, was at the mercy of two foreigners, two self-important chinks. And Timbo. Timbo was gone. And suddenly, Romul couldn’t help but feel like it was Charlie’s fault.

He didn’t know what he was doing when he reached beneath the seat and pulled out the RPG. The bearded guy wasn’t paying attention and didn’t immediately notice Romul pointing the weapon at Charlie who had just left the little building. Suddenly improbably cold and calm, he fired the RPG. With wide open eyes, Charlie saw the imminent death that was flying towards him at almost 300 miles an hour. At this point, the bearded guy had finally reacted. Before Romul could set down the discharged weapon, he already felt the impact of several bullets in his chest. The RPG just fell off his uninjured shoulder. He clenched his fists, bit down on his teeth, closed his eyes, fell over, and died.

No one could ever know if Romul, like Timbobulus, went to a place of peace after his death.

But it seems rather improbable.

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