Seeing the people you've killed is a really good way to ruin a good night's sleep. I just returned from Afghanistan not too long ago. Eight weeks to be exact.
You know what question I'm answering. Two men and a kid. In all honesty, it should have been four. When we were clearing a building I saw a pile of rags on the ground, I kicked it out of the way and with some meaty thuds the object rolled across the floor and began crying. The mother ran over and picked up her baby. The look in her eyes. I've seen the eyes of men who genuinely wanted to kill me. But her's, her's were ones that didn't want me to die. They wanted me to suffer.
Contact left, two males.
I hear yelling in two different languages. All I heard in English was "drop the knife."
All I heard in whatever language they speak were threats.
The knife was still in hand. Inhale. Two in the chest, one in the head. Exhale. Inhale. Two in the chest, one in the head. Exhale. We detain the mother. I walk over to examine the bodies. The man with the knife only had one in the chest. Where is the other round?
I look behind him. I see a kid. No more than twelve. Dead. Hole in his throat. I got the jugular. There was more blood than kid. In the kid's hand was a sandy .38 caliber revolver. I still haven't inhaled...
The night before was the last night I slept. Ever since that mission I had been under a lot of stressful investigations. People questioning if I saw the kid, jesus, if I AIMED for the kid.
Long story short, I'm clear. That's all that matters right? I get to go home and enjoy my fat, American restaurants. I get to see my family. My pregnant wife. I get to look into her eyes. I wish there was a way I could see her eyes without her seeing mine. I don't want her to see what I did. After eight weeks of no eye contact, there seems to be a strain on our relationship.
I glue my ass to the computer chair and let the room bathe in the blue computer light. My eyes hurt. I spend most of my time on Reddit, Youtube, Pornhub. I deleted my Facebook. Solitude and anonymity is the one thing I seek most now. After 89 hours of no sleep, my wife convinced me to go to the doctor.
A new drug. No-REM-No-Problem. I didn't know if it was the motto or the drug, but the doctor assured me it's a drug.
"Trust the name!" was the motto.
I started taking No-REM and this is where things start getting crazy. I pop two pills before dinner and I'm golden. I sleep like it was an olympic event. I constantly have the same dream and occasionally wake up in places I didn't fall asleep. It became a party joke.
"Sometimes I'll wake up and my husband will be asleep in the bathtub and sometimes he'll just be lounging around in the garden next to the tool shed!"
Everyone laughs. But if I told them the dream that preludes it. No one would laugh. No one laughs at the slaughter of a twelve-year-old boy. The only problem with this No-REM is I can't wake up. I HAVE to watch this dream. When it becomes too much, I wake up outside of my bed.
Eventually two pills stopped working. I had to upgrade to three. Then four. Then I started having the day dreams. I don't mean I stared off into space or anything like that. I mean I was seeing shit. Sometimes I would hear the baby I kicked in the distance. Sometimes I would see the eyes of the mother when it got real dark. The one place I could never look, though, was the mirror.
I would see a much happier version of myself, grinning ear-to-ear. At first I thought it was actually me. I thought I was actually happy. But then I him... me, pull out a box-cutter and slash at the arms. When I looked down, there would be nothing. Other times I would brand myself. Sometimes I would cut a little bit of skin off and flush it down the toilet. My other self always told me to wear long sleeves. That he didn't want anyone to see his scars. I listened to him.
For weeks I tried to stay out of a mirrors gaze until I saw my wife crying. She was looking at the mirror and she said he keeps cutting himself. I asked her who, but she didn't hear me. I screamed it, still, she just kept staring into the mirror. I looked in with her, maybe she saw what I saw.
It was the same dopple-ganger. But, This time he was not smiling. He had a cartoonish frown on his face. One you would have to REALLY try to make. Before I knew it he was cutting her throat open with the same box- cutter. As soon as I saw the blood pour out I woke up in the garden next to the shed again. This medication was getting too out of hand. I got in my car and floored it to the hospital, halfway their I noticed I was in the same clothes I wore yesterday, which was strange because I always woke up in pajamas.
After rushing to the hospital and being extremely rude to people I convinced the doctor to see me right away. I tell him everything and the next words he spoke made my heart so audible in my head I would have thought it was behind my ears.
"John, you're in the control group. No-REM should have had no effect on you because it's sugar..."
My mouth was dry, I couldn't even drizzle out a word. I looked down at my arms and instantly felt pain shooting up and down. I rolled up my sleeves and saw the brands. The cuts. The piece of skin I flushed away. I hear the doctor say something along the lines of "Oh, sweet Christ..."
I scramble for my phone and scroll down to my wife's name. I try calling it. No answer.
Yes. In the shed.
That's the answer to the question I know you want to ask.