May 2022 Short

The Machine Gun Goddess I Met On the White Desert Battlefield

Author: XI

*****

This planet knows no morning, but loves the night. And it’s cold. Even when I take a rest at the base camp set up on the rocky shore, I always need a fire.

Why did I come to this planet to begin with? Not for someone. For myself. I wanted a high salary and a sense of tension. I know it sounds like a snobbish idea, but that was really the only reason I came here in the first place. Initially. Yes, at the beginning. It’s different now. Now I find meaning and significance in fighting itself. Fighting is my life. Since I was born a man, yes, as a man, I have to fight to the end. Because I’m a man, I have to pull my chin up and stare ahead. God is always telling me in my head, “Look forward, look forward”. It’s so loud that I can’t ignore it. Fortunately or unfortunately, I have neither a spouse nor a lover. I’m light-weight. So I can decide what to do for myself. Decide for myself. Or perhaps it is safe to say that this is my pride.

We’ve been beaten up pretty badly today. It will take some time for additional troops to arrive―― no, there will be no additional troops. Our side is always in danger, and so, as a practical matter, our lives may be in jeopardy today or tomorrow. I am confident that no matter what happens, I will not regret it―― I’m just confident.

*****

On the night of the day I survived, I received a notice from the top. Since the number of soldiers has decreased, the number of units will be reduced and separated, and the members of each unit increased. A reorganization. However, my unit has only ten people, including me.

With the fire crackling, I gave a brief introduction of myself and returned to my meal. I’ve been eating nothing but corn soup lately. There’s no decent supply route. No wonder I’m losing weight. My ribs have long since floated away. I wish I could eat curry. I know I will probably never eat it again. That’s why I want to eat it.

Sitting on a red rock that is perfect for a perch, I sip the soup from a mug. It’s not very tasty. A black scorpion approached my feet. I ignored it. However, just as it scrambled on to the person next me, it was soon crushed on the bottom of their boot and killed. The person beside me– a woman too young, with a dark brown muffler completely covering her mouth. She was the first woman I had seen, although there were not many soldiers. A beauty with a sharp look in her eyes. Her long black hair was tied up in an updo, and I was tempted to suggest that she cut it short so it wouldn’t get in the way, but that would have been a waste of words, so I actually decided not to say anything.

The woman has been trying to sleep with a machine gun in her arms. There was no particular reason, but I just thought she was beautiful, and even though I decided not to waste my words, I asked, “Won’t you eat?”. Then, the woman nodded a little, but she didn’t smile.

“You’ve got good fuel economy, me too. How to put it, why don’t you just leave scorpions alone?”

The woman said, “They are a nuisance when they sting”. The woman’s voice was higher pitched than I had expected, and it carried well. “It’s do or die. Scorpions are the same,” she continued. Then she asked, “Is it wrong?”.

I shrugged.

“No difference.”

“Is that right?”

“Yes.”

“What’s your name?” I asked, and the woman answered, “Emily.” “I’m Kou, I’ll be in your care from now on.” I said, holding out my hand. She gave me a puzzled look and then shook my hand.

Then the woman―― Emily, pulled down her muffler and exposed her mouth to the air. She had thin, well-shaped lips. When I wondered what she was going to say, she uttered in a childish tone, “Soup, please”. I respond accordingly. She held a mug in her hands and sipped her soup. Her pure white cheeks were as beautiful as porcelain, and I couldn’t help but be entranced. It may sound strange to say, but it was a little surprising that I felt that way. I am not supposed to be interested in other people.

“Why did you come to this planet, Emily?”

“I wanted to fight.”

“For whom?”

“For me.”

“Just like me,” I said with a smile. “When you’re trying to stay strong, being a soldier isn’t such a bad option, is it?”

“I think so,” Emily returned the mug. “Here you go.”

Sipping the rest, I said, “It’s an indirect kiss”, to which Emily replied, “Yes, it is,” and didn’t laugh. She just gave me a blank stare. I was impressed by her eyes because they were so lifeless.

*****

I ran with Emily through the white desert battlefield. We hid ourselves in bunkers, and launched counterattacks when the gunfire and artillery ceased. We would push up the front line when we saw the opportunity. The wind blows up dust, and visibility is very poor. But that’s the way it always is. We are used to it. Eventually, we retreated. There is too much difference in volume. We have to endure for a long time. The usual phrase, “We can’t let them build a bridgehead”. We shoot again. They shoot back. We escape to the bunker while holding our heads, screaming “Hyaah”.

A mortar landed nearby. Not good, not good, not good. Everyone in the unit must have felt the same way. Yet, Emily ran out of the bunker. She ran in a forward leaning posture. I’ve never seen such a daredevil woman before. It’s a little surprising―― or rather, I can’t let my guard down. I can’t tolerate it because she is too reckless. I don’t want to see someone get killed in front of me. Especially if it’s a woman.

“Emily! No, turn back!”

She’s not turning back. It is possible that my voice is being drowned out by the sound of the wind howling in the wind, but―― no, I have a feeling that even if she could hear me, she would just ignore me and keep going. That’s the kind of girl Emily is.

While chasing after her, I shout “Emily!” again. The sound of the explosion indicates that it was a shell from a tank. The round landed right in front of Emily, and her slender body floated away. In a blink of an eye, she was blown far behind me. I turned around in a panic and ran. I looked down at her as she was thrown onto her back. There was a missing part in her body, it was her left forearm. It looked as if it had been torn off with great force.

I carry Emily, who grunts in pain, up on my shoulder and grit my teeth as I retreat. It’s frustrating. Everything about having to retreat, everything about Emily losing her left arm. From behind, the sound of heavy impact landing, again and again. Maybe the unit is no more. Even the frontline will have to be drawn back. If we don’t want to die, this may be the time to turn the tide.

Emily yelled, “Gun!” in the loudest voice I’ve ever heard.

“What about the gun?”

“Machine gun! I dropped it! I’m going back to pick it up! I can still fight!”

What a foolish girl!

But definitely a fighter, beautiful.

Ignoring her words, I continue on. My feet get caught in the sand. It’s hard to run anyway. Still, we keep going forward, forward, forward as best we can. Base camp is still far away. It doesn’t matter if they catch up with us. It doesn’t matter if we are killed. We kept running, even though we were thinking that.

“Put me down!”

“No!”

“Why!”

“Because I like you!”

“Can’t hear you!”

“I like you!”

Then, Emily’s voice ceased.

―― I was lucky enough to make it to camp, and while my arm was still bleeding, I embraced Emily vigorously, yet awkwardly, in the tent. All the while, she kept staring into my eyes and repeating “Why?”. People’s feelings are always impulsive. I couldn’t explain why I liked her, so I didn’t answer, but rather I focused on the matter at hand. I will never forget the warmth and pride I felt when we connected and became one.

*****

I went to the battlefield by day and had sex with Emily at night. It’s too much of a routine, too much of a clerical task, but it’s what we did. During our union, we were eager to find out what was pleasurable for each other, and we tried to understand each other’s feelings. Precious communication. Emily shot a colleague who was drunk and peered into our tent with a handgun. It was an altruistic thing to do, but she killed him. I don’t know why, I don’t know, but I also feel like I understand. At the very least, I can say that Emily’s white, white body is more beautiful than anything else.

Emily, who has rarely slept before, says she can sleep in a tent on my arm pillow. I slept soundly, indeed. I, for my part, could not fall asleep until I saw her peaceful sleeping face. I wanted to feel relief deep in my heart. People’s hearts are always honest. Corn soup that isn’t so bad, and a frayed but warm blanket. That was all we needed, except each other’s bodies.

“Kou, to be honest, it does hurt…”

Even without being told, I could tell that she was in pain. The wound on Emily’s left arm is rotting. That’s why I also have the words I have prepared.

That night, while we were both under a blanket, I told Emily, “Go back home.” She said “Eh!” and dilated her eyes.

“Why so surprised?”

I stroked her hair, kissed her cheeks, and then smiled. Emily hugged me tightly. She clung tightly while refusing, “I don’t like it, no…”.

“Because I met Kou, I was able to confirm myself. I could see Kou, so I decided to love myself. No good? I don’t like the sound of this?”

“Then, let’s go home together.”

“I’ll go home with you. I’m fine with that. We’ll go home now?”

“I’m kidding, I can’t.”

“Why not?”

“Because I’ve killed a lot of people. I’m better at killing people than anyone else. I can’t go back anymore.’

“Then I’ll also ――”

I also kissed her cheek again, and she trembled.

So scared, she said.

“I’m a man, and you’re a woman.”

“That’s not a reason.”

“I don’t need a reason. Go home. Please. Next time I am reborn, I want to marry you properly, and then we can live happily and peacefully, ah, reading books …”

“Kou…”

“Don’t cry, Emily. Don’t cry for me.”

Live.

I’ll come back with an answer.

I told her emphatically.

I had no intention of making her a promise.

*****

Emily returned to her hometown. That was the last spaceship to return to the planet. We, who were left in the white desert, could no longer retreat. At best, we will fight for the country and die a noble death.

I ran. For the umpteenth time, I dove quickly from the bunker to the bunker, advancing despite the pain and firing my machine gun to inflict damage on the enemy. There is no morning on this planet. My comrades continue to dwindle. My spirit continues to wear away. Still I fight. For what? I’m sure, I am sure, it is for myself.

Fight till you die.

It is the God I know who says so today in a clear voice. If so, then ―― I have no choice but to obey. There is no God in this world. I knew that, but I fought. People were born to fight. I am one of them.

I stand on top of the highest knoll around here. My companion came up next to me. He said something incomprehensible, like, “I see golden butterflies.” I asked, “What’s that?” and laughed out loud. The battlefield is a place where no one can be in a normal state of mind. Still, I thought it would be wonderful if what I saw at the end of the battle was a golden butterfly.

A light salvo sound fluttered parapararara. The man who saw butterflies was exposed to bullets up to his face, and he fell to his knees and toppled forward. I quickly got down on the ground. I flatten myself and look to see where the bullet came from. ―― no, we are surrounded. A point-blank shot. I shoot. I make my escape, flee. Flee? For what? To see Emily again? It was a difficult choice. I kept checking it over and over in my mind. I was a soldier and Emily was a woman.

“Don’t fight anymore!”

Suddenly, such a voice echoed. A low voice. But I could tell it was a woman’s voice. Don’t fight anymore, was it? What are you saying now? There is no room to understand each other anymore.

“Don’t fight anymore!”

Persistent. I was irritated and actually shouted, “So persistent!”

“Coming out! Don’t shoot! I’m done killing each other!”

In response, I insisted, “If you want to prove it, why don’t you come out and show your face?”. Then, a slender, tall soldier took off his black helmet and came forward to a visible position. Eventually he walked to the front of me. I thought it was a woman, but he had neutral good looks. He, she – or this person who might not be either – hugged me with tears streaming down their face.

“Let’s stop already…?”

Knowing that these words, while full of compassion, were meaningless, I replied, “OK”. “I’m Jack,” the man cried. In time he pressed his lips against my neck, which made me almost scream out loud in an inappropriately sensual way. Jack smelled so good that it brought me nothing but comfort.

*****

Jack was a man. He was a man, but he wanted to sleep with me, but I wouldn’t have him. I didn’t have much knowledge of “such things”, that is, I did not know “how to do it with men”. I wanted to thank him for having taken notice of my fighting spirit for a long time. I couldn’t be unwilling to be appreciated by others.

Inside the tent, Jack got up, covered his front with a brown blanket, looked at me, and laughed, “fufu”. His thin body is not masculine at all. It even made me think it was a poison to my eyes.

“It’s okay, no matter what you do or what you don’t do, I like you. Kou, do you know? From a strategic point of view, this planet is of no value.”

“Yes, I know.”

I smiled wryly.

I know that much.

“I don’t want to do this anymore,” Jack says sadly. “I’m a captain, I’m in a moderately important position. But I want to stop.”

“Jack is kind,” I sipped some luxury coffee by the bedside. “Your country will win, this planet will belong to you.”

“Kou, if you know that, why do you fight?”

“It’s simple, because that’s the only thing I know how to do.”

“I won’t ask you to hold me anymore. Just come with me? I’ll show you a dream.”

“Dream. That’s a nice word, isn’t it? But no.”

“No matter what?”

“No matter what.”

Then Jack had dark eyes.

“Kou, why do you want to live?”

“Is that how you see it, Jack?”

“Yes. You can’t forget someone you care about, can you?”

I don’t deny it, I couldn’t.

“If you leave me, I’ll kill you.”

When I heard that, I laughed. Even in the thick vinyl tent, the voice echoed with a mad noise.

“Jack, that’s funny. You tried to help me.”

“That’s how much I love you. Kou, you — “

“You are pretty, but you’re not a woman.’

“Are you trying to discriminate?”

“Yes. You are never going to be the one I love.”

I held a machine gun. When I went out, I dressed properly. It was a peaceful night, and when I looked up at the sky, I saw many stars. It was beautiful.

*****

I understood that this was the last battle. I had to do it. The enemy seems to have plenty of money and troops. Finally, they had even deployed humanoid automatons. It’s an annihilation battle. The nameless machines were achieving results that lived up to their name. The bullets from cheap machine guns would never penetrate the machines. Still, I move forward. One by one, our allies fall.

I think back on the time I have spent so far.

I think back to all the people I have spent time with in the past.

I remember that my mother was worried about my recklessness, but she welcomed me with open arms. I remember my father smiling at me and telling me that a man should be that bold. I remember my sister crying when I told her I was going to be a soldier. She cried because she was kind and said that her brother was an idiot. I remember I had a dog. And two or three cats. The dog didn’t like me and didn’t even want to go for walks with me. But the cats were very fond of me. When I was lying on my bed, they would come right up to my nose. Even when I tried to get rid of them with my hand, they would come close to me again.

I have many tender and memorable memories of the cats, but I don’t want to dwell on them. I am alive, so I want to move forward. Forward, front, single-mindedly forward.

We can’t beat the enemy anymore.

I will never see Emily again.

If I can leave only the fact that I kept on fighting, that’s fine.

Emily, receive my feelings―― please be happy.

Run, run.

At the very least, I want to leave a mark at the end.

Approaching, approaching, aiming at Jack’s throat.

Just as I was about to meet Jack’s eyes, I was hit by a bullet from behind.

The bullet hit the back of my head, so I had no choice but to accept, “Oh, I’m screwed”.

I could see Jack’s face twisting in grief. I could see that. Jack shouted, “Kou!”. What came to mind was gratitude for having been loved, and I simply mouthed, “thank you!”. He just said “thank you!”. That’s all we said to each other, “thank you!”.

Jack came running up the hill, kicking the white sand and flapping his arms.

He was sobbing.

I was able to know love in life.

So, I was happy―― it wasn’t impossible.

――I spoke to that effect in my heart, that I was happy, and then I finally ran out of time.

*****

I have moved from planet to planet, and ended up where I am now. I have a child. A strong-nosed girl with eyes and nose that closely resembles him. She wanted to win a lottery for the most popular anime at a convenience store. I roused her to give a pull. She was delighted to win a figurine of the main character. She boasts, “Mama, look, see!”, she was so proud of it.

I once fell in love with a man, Kou, on a battlefield in a white desert. That fact has not changed, cannot change, and should remain unchanged. Even now, I sometimes think of him and I indulge in intense masturbation. The pleasure he brought me can only be brought by him and cannot be reproduced. When I touched my right middle finger to the lips at the base of my legs, I found that the tip was moist, and when I hear my child say in her sleep, “Mama, mama …… “, I can’t help but burst into tears. Really, I really want to tell her daughter this much. Your father was a great man. What is there to be sad about?

This land is called Kamata in Tokyo, Japan of Earth. If the Keihin Tohoku Line is running, the Tokaido Line will also come and go. The area in front of the station is always crowded, and it is hardly safe. Still, it’s much better than “that planet”. No one had a machine gun.

“Mama, Mama, hey mama.”

“Chikusa, what is it?”

“Hey, mama.”

“Like I said, what?”

“Why isn’t papa coming home?”

I answer.

“Because he’s a warrior.”

Yes. His soul is still fighting somewhere far away, without seeing where he will be called.

I look up at the sky

There is no cold air.

It’s already spring.

There is peace and warmth here that does not remind me of the cold desert where we ran around so hard that day.

“Kou …” I look up at many stars and let a tear flow from the left corner of my eye. “Kou, I love you so much …”

The tears didn’t stop, which made my daughter uneasy.

I smile at her and try to make her feel better.

I try to stay positive only when I think of Kou.

“Mama, mama.”

“What?”

“Chikusa is happy, okay?”

“Yes, I’m happy too.”

Kou was kind to me.

Kou taught me love.

However, he didn’t follow me.

Still, I am satisfied.

I live with a sense of pride as the only woman he left behind.

The sigh of the stars.

This planet also carries humans, and repeats deep sighs.

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