51 – Painkillers

How old was she? Thirteen? Fourteen? He didn’t really want to know. The amber liquid in the tumbler stared back at him with a mixture of pity and remorse.

The glass surface of the monitor made everything appear cold and impersonal, like some sort of gruesome video game. Everything reduced to graphs and statistics layered on top of grainy images from some faraway country.

The bartender refilled him without a word, having learned a long time ago the regulars to this particular bar were never here to chat.

He just wanted to serve his country, to make his mom and dad proud. He wasn’t even allowed to tell them what his true job was… and the saddest part was this made him feel relieved.

His orders were always clear and simple. A set of coordinates and a description of the target. All he had to do was fly the drone and pull the trigger.

He saw the sheep first, two, four, a whole flock appeared behind the white-walled house. And then he saw her, a mere fraction of a second after his finger released the deadly cargo.

The tumbler kept staring at him, its gaze becoming fuzzier as the night grew old.

The barman kept quietly refilling without even being asked.

He didn’t want or need to know her story, he just knew we all have our own way to kill the pain.

Or at least numb it.