Everybody avoided Dadan because he was the loudmouth with a stupid smile on his face. Nobody wanted him around. I thought they had a prejudice towards the guy and couldn’t trust him with their lives when bullets start flying. Natural selection brought him to me, and I didn’t oppose it. I didn’t minded having someone on my flank, someone to look in one direction while I moved on the other.
A week later, I saw why everybody insisted that I take him. The guy couldn’t shut up, not even when he was asleep. Either he talked about his life, or he sang while on the march. He didn’t sing well.
I had a big limit of tolerance and most of the time I was silent, so he spoke for both of us. Others laughed at the most silent and most chatty guy in the company, but I didn’t care. I was here to make a picnic.
– Hey man. Hey. I never asked you before, but do you believe in God? I mean, I am here rambling about Sunday services when I was a kid, the preacher we had in our church. Yeah, that was a fun time. So, do you believe in God? – Dadan made huge steps and stared at me with a smile, while my grumpy face moved at sides looking at the snowy hills where the enemy could be waiting.
– No. – I answered not really interested in talking, which hasn’t thrown Dadan off balance.
– Seriously? You don’t believe in God? So what do you believe in? Come on, there must be something you believe in? How about Jehovah? I knew a guy who believed in him. He was a great guy. He had a really cool bike we took turns riding. – Dadan spoke with enthusiasm I never had in my life.
– Taking turns! – a guy from the back laughed hard, his machine gun clinking in his hands, – Just like we took turns on your sister last night?! – high fives and choir of laughter started following me, where Dadan’s smiling face took that grimace like he wanted to ask “What?”, but avoiding confrontation, he turned toward me like nothing happened.
At this point, I pitied the poor guy. For a second I thought he was mentally challenged or ill, as that would explain his constant smiling and talking, but he wasn’t showing any other signs of the disorder. If someone said to me what this idiot told to Dadan, I would gladly discharge a bullet in the fucker’s head, but this wasn’t my problem, not my battle.
– So, do you believe in Jehovah? – Dadan continued, and my blood boiled because of the persistent questions he posed.
– No. I don’t believe in God, or any other deity. Stop asking me so damn much! – I lashed out at the man jerked back and looked at my angry face, – There is no God! Never did! If it did, why is he doing this, if everything is because of him?! Why do you believe in him, when there are a thousand more deities?! What makes your God so special, huh?! If you were born in some other country, you would have some other God than this! Would you defend that the same way you defend this?! In the stone age, people believed that mammoth was a God and they ate their Gods back then! Why don’t you believe that a mammoth is your God?! Or a bird, or a fish?! If they were fake deities, this one is too. – I grunted the last word and started walking again, not caring about what I did to him.
The column continued to march forward, all silent and focused on the hills around us. Dadan stood there like wet, his mouth finally closed.
– That shut ‘im up. – the asshole of the company said with a smirk and our steps took over to pound in the snow.
I felt bad, but I had to do something about the endless barrage of questions. I felt like I lost my soul back there, left in on the road and never turned back to pick it up. I must’ve been a monster. I shouldn’t have lied to him. I believed in a force, something intangible and ghostly like a spirit that controls the world we live in. Every time some event happened, there was a perfect reaction that never failed to stop the things from getting worse. Maybe people called that a God, I am not sure, but I defied the personification of that power, giving it a human face and a long white beard.
If we were ruled by something, I wasn’t ready to name it God, even if others insisted on doing that.
After crossing the final hill and coming to an edge, we could see the smoke in the village. Instantly, I thought we were late, yet our column moved downhill without stopping to scout or evaluate the threat.
I followed them, and then I saw Dadan pulling his legs like the beat dog. I sized him up, gasped and came to him.
– Damn it, man. Your mind is somewhere else. I need you to get back in the zone and watch my back. Let’s do this. Common. – I tapped his shoulder while he stared at me like a corpse.
No warm smile, no gesture made him speak. He remained silent, and that was just chilling my bones more than the snow we had to go through. Eventually, I just moved to hope that message was clear and that he understood what sort of danger we are about to walk in.
The column was passing the center of the village with flaks spaced out to sides where Dadan and I took the right wing and carefully pushed forward. Heavy snow covered the roofs, so everything seemed the same on a first glance. I didn’t need to turn around to see if Dadan was there, I could just hear his bored sighs and assholish stomps in the wet squeaking snow.
That same squeaking was interrupted by an unexpected sound of a baby crying. Dadan rushed in the house without hearing me yell at him to stop, or at least check for booby traps that enemy might left.
– God fucking damn it Dadan! They could’ve done something to the baby! – I chased him around the house and stopped at the doorstep of a children room where unicorns were dilapidated from the crumbling walls, – Don’t pick it up just yet. See if there are wires around the cradle. You don’t want to kill us all in the room. – I moved aside with my hand stretched at him, my eyes running over the walls, while Dadan smiled at the little one in the cradle and murmured something.
He picked up the baby and started shushing it while smiling and rocking it on his shoulder.
– Alright. You played with it long enough. Leave the baby and move. – I caught my breath and gesticulated him to get out, but he just frowned and shushed the baby.
– What monster are you? It’s a baby. It can’t take care of itself. It misses the mommy. – he smiled and looked at it, – He must be hungry and cold. – Dadan spoke not listening to me.
– Babies don’t feel cold. It’s just hungry or needs a change if diapers. – I pointed at the blanket the baby was wrapped in and Dadan again looked at me.
– Don’t feel cold? I completely forgot about that. I must set up some mnemonic system to remember all of the things I learned about the babies. – he said, acting like a mother, not realizing we could all die any second if the enemy is still in the area.
– Common Dadan. We have no time to play family. Why don’t you leave a baby and do what are you sent for? They could be just behind the next hill, man. – I spoke restless and eager to get out, but he was persistent.
Dadan picked up the bag with all of the things he needed to take care of a baby, and with a wide smile walked out, without even asking me to move out of the way. He was on some other place, totally zoned out and distant from the mission.
– Lets found your mommy. – he murmured when I stopped at the doorstep again and moved looked right to the kitchen where I spotted women’s legs and a red stain on the tiled floor near the counter.
I knocked my head down, took a deep breath and closed the door. Maybe I was a monster, but I wasn’t even close to the monsters we were hunting in the snow.
We debated on taking a baby with us and Dadan won this round. Because of that baby, we left him to follow us, while we rushed to catch up with the monsters who destroyed the village.
Even we were a mile away from the village, smoke was still in our noses, and footprints continued due west. In an hour of non-stop jogging, we came to the slope of a hill. The team divided into two groups and we enveloped the chatter on the top of that hill.
Flash grenade exploded and rifling started echoing in the forest. Snow really made the climb hard, but we all went up and took the raiders in gunsights. After trying them up, the team went through their stuff.
– Where are their weapons? – one of us asked and we all turned to search the area.
The raiders had jewelry and fine things with them. They took all of this from the houses in the village and left, but it was strange for them to abandon their weapons, especially when they knew we will show up to stop them.
– They must have buried them in the snow. – Dadan said, rocking and smiling at the baby, – So which one of you made this kid an orphan? – Dadan gave that weird smile at the hairy bush-people, leaned over to see their eyes, but they hid their faces in fur and grunted for themselves.
– Come on, answer him. – the asshole in the company kicked one savage and he jerked back ready to fight, but calmed down and nervously looked over the team.
– It wasn’t us. We smelled the smoke from our camp and we ran down there to see what is going on. – the dirtiest of them said and spat at the ground.
– So who was then? – Dadan continued and I whipped my gun at the savages sitting in the middle of their camp.
– I don’t know. You call it God. – he spoke and just two of our men laughed, but savage continued, – It was, it was. A tall white man with the long white beard, glowing with light. I saw him. People bowed at him, tried to touch him. Women cried while their houses were burning. Some men shot him, but he didn’t bleed. That’s when he waved his hand and everybody fell on their knees. And then… – he wanted to continue, but his friend kicked him.
– And then what? And then what?! – I raised my weapon, while Dadan shook his head in disbelief.
– He… He killed them all. We ran away, so he didn’t try to follow us. I heard your people call him Demon, some said he was Satan and not a God, but he just, he raised his palm and hissed “Sin” at them and they would bleed. – a savage hovered his hand mid-air, graphically showing us the way the villagers died.
One glimpse on Dadan, I could see him trying to find some logical explanation for what had happened. He mourned for the victims of yet another visit from the being that tried to take over this world and posed themselves as owners of this place, the Gods.
– Bear One to Base. We have another Helion on the planet. We have witnessed from his landing site. I say again, Helion is spotted in Siberia. – I said in the radio and sighed while men around me sporadically nodded.
We had to move and find Helion before that creature does some damage. The last time we had Helions visit our planet, he created a sect and used it to bring slaughter of those that defied his reign. Some other sects were created in the process that looked upon those aliens as supreme being worthy of worship, but the reality is they were nothing more but butchers.
Lucky for us, Helions were most powerful in close range, a sort of “must see it believe it”. Some also compared Helions with Christ, because only those that were close to Jesus were the only ones loyal and believed in him. Some also speculate that the whole religion was fabricated as a deterrent to stop the Roman Empire of spreading due east, but those were speculations.
Walking down the trail, we came to another set of footprints. We followed them further into taiga and saw a glowing man heading south. I took out my spotter laser and took cover.
– Bear One to the base. I have a target in sight. Requesting an aerial strike with the following coordinates. – I spoke to the radio while the rest of the team waited for me behind the mound.
Soon two Su-34 came in and released their missiles on the target. I could’ve sworn that Helion looked at me before a fireball consumed him. Either way, our planet was a little bit safer.
I returned back to wait for a helicopter to take us home and found Dadan trying to put the babe to sleep, but for some reason, the little one objected that. Dadan offered him milk, changed his diaper but nothing worked.
– Helion is dead. – I breathed out the words and made a smile when the team nodded and got back to their meaningless weapon maintenance.
– Guys? – Dadan raised our attention, – Is it me, or this baby is glowing? – he asked and it was true.
A shiny orb was growing from the baby’s head, a radiant light making shadows behind us.
– Kill it! Kill it now! – someone yelled.
– But, it’s a baby! – Dadan yelled back and rocked the baby to calm down.
– Make him quiet! Make him quiet. – I jumped in and stopped the charge at the helpless thing in the Dadan’s hands, – We will take it to the base. They will know what to do with it. – I ordered and held the angry men away from Dadan that turned around to protect the little thing.
– You know what will happen to the damn thing. They will carve it out to see what makes him tick! – the man shouted in my face, – That’s an enemy. – he pointed at Dadan’s back.
– That’s why they were coming here. – our sniper spoke in awe, – They are looking for the baby. A messiah, a promised one. – he continued, his jaw touching the ground.
– Stop speaking bullshit. It’s a baby, nothing more. It’s not a messiah and this is not a second coming, you idiot. It’s an alien. – I slapped his helmet to snap back to reality and approached Dadan.
– Dude. I know this is changing you in so many ways and you’ll never be the same man after this, but you need to let go of the baby and think of humanity. Give it to me. I will take care of it. – I said and Dadan unwillingly handed me the glowing child.
I had a great decision to make. This wasn’t an ordinary baby, and we had no idea of what was the right thing to do. Soldiers, we have no answers on how to react to these things, that’s why I had to give this baby for analysis and hope they don’t kill it.
Maybe someday, this could be our ambassador to the world beyond, maybe this was our God and Hell is close by.
And some other stories that really got you thinking.