“General?” My young major asks again. I’m still silent, the officers look at me as if I’m absent from the room. I realize I cannot provide a quick answer, the exhausted group of captains and majors also look at each other as if it’s time to replace me, or ignore me, and have their own consensus on next steps.
How did this happen? We were so close to victory. Defending our turf took so long, the invaders were first kept at bay, then pushed back. And all of a sudden, they’re at our gates.
They have our own weapons, I got reports they concentrated their attacks on my best units. All my experienced colonels and majors are dead or missing in action.
I still have no answer on what to do next, what for me seems like a few seconds, is minutes to my quarters, what’s left of them: I start to realize the enemy knew what to target, who to eliminate. They located and found the way to get to our armouries, they know how to use our weapons, and they knew our weak spots and even our attacking plan.
I’ve been betrayed.
They say the biggest emotional pain one can experience, probably worse than rape, is treason. At this point I’d rather been raped by the entire enemy’s army than to be betrayed. Physical pain would pass, this I feel is unbearable.
If we surrender, the enemy will take our cities, rape our women, and kill our children.
And it is practically children the ones in front of me. How could my army became so young? My colleagues of decades and our best adult soldiers have paid the ultimate prize, all of them. And now their own kids are the ones asking me what to do. Outside my tent, I glance at mortified teenagers that should be dressed in bright colours, playing sports at school, rather than wearing fatigues, being dirty, demoralized, and hungry on a battlefield.
They all sense we’re doomed. They hang on because they know if we falter our entire nation will be finished, and the suffering of our people will be way too much and lengthy.
They will torture us in front of our families, or the other way around, or both.
What was the motive or the reason? How could my closest people do that to us? I’m so tired too.
A quick flash of thought suggests suicide, but how could I just leave everything as it is? What do I do? I’d give my life one thousand times over if that would stop the carnage and we could live in peace, but I know vengeance and misery infliction are our enemy’s only goals.
I feel numb, my mind is a whirlwind, my mouth is open but no sounds come out. I want to provide a good quick pep talk, but my face and body language don’t help. I have no plan and feel so stupid. If I ask them to fight, most of us will die. If I choose to surrender, most of us will die or loose limbs and be made a slave, suffering a long agony.
Retreating and evacuating would be a long runaway, in which we’ll be eventually caught up…
Is this the end?