The guards were well-fed and well-rested.
They stood outside a house that can only be described as decadent in its opulence.
The soldiers wore uniforms free of dirt and lacked the worn, threadbare attire of the combatant. These were not fighters. Their sole purpose was to protect whoever was in the house.
I sat on my haunches, smoking my pipe, tired and ragged. For a month, I have traversed this hellish landscape, revisiting horrors I had hoped to forget, and experiencing those which I had hoped to never know. Hidden behind the walls of the home in front of me was someone I needed to speak with.
More than likely, it was someone I would kill.
Time would tell, of course.
The first step was getting past the guards.
I stood up and walked toward the front door. The nearest guard raised an eyebrow, and as he opened his mouth to speak, I drew my Colts.
Whatever he was going to say died with him as the .44s roared in the morning’s crisp air. The other guards, having never experienced combat before, froze, unsure of what to do.
I did not suffer from any such dilemma, and I killed them all.
I stepped over their bodies and went into the house, reloading as I did so. Men and women rushed out of rooms, confused as to what was happening, and they died with looks of bewilderment upon their pale, fat faces.
I climbed the center stairs, killing as I went, the thunder of the Colts a sweet, bitter song a primal part of me adored.
And how could one not love the call of the guns?
In my hands, they rendered justice as I saw it.
On the second floor, an officer stepped out, a bright and shining Colt .45 in his hand. He died with the weapon still unfired.
No one stood against me. They could not.
I was vengeance and death, the rage and sadness of every soldier who has held the body of his brother-in-arms.
On the third floor, I saw the office of the commanding officer, the door to which was open, the man sitting at his desk, a dull look of surprise on his face.
I holstered the Colts, drew my knife, and cut a hole in his belly.
As the sun chased the chill from the air, I choked him to death with his own entrails.