Monday, October 21, 2019

War orphan


Sherman was a G.I. fighting behind enemy lines in a war-torn country, ravaged by civil war. He found a war orphan in a burnt-out village. A young boy named Jason. At first the boy was terrified, until he saw that Sherman meant him no harm. Sherman gave him a pat on the head and some chocolate, which the hungry boy wolfed down. The boy was hoping Sherman was his rescuer. Sherman looked into his trusting, pleading, desperate eyes. He felt a strong instinctive pull to take the boy back with him. 

But attempting to rescue the boy would put Sherman at risk. The boy would slow him down. They were surrounded by the enemy. 

He hated the idea of leaving the kid behind to die–or worse. But he knew that was just his evolutionary programming. He was being manipulated by blind evolution to be altruistic and sacrificial. 

Fact is, the kid was just a temporary biological organism like the rest of us. Eminently and ultimately replaceable. One child is pretty interchangeable with another. What difference does it make to world history if there's one more child or one less child, a thousand more or a thousand fewer? It's all so random and arbitrary. 

Why should Sherman risk the only life he's got to save a child's life? Sure, he'd feel rotten if he abandoned the boy, but that's just evolution guilt-tripping him. Why should he let himself be suckered by his biological brainwashing? It's like a phobia: you can't shake the feeling, but you know it's irrational, so you have to override it to do what's necessary.

It reminded him of the movie he saw one time–Screamers–where killer robots disguised as war orphans clutching teddybears mimic vulnerable children. They emit plaintive cries. But underneath it's just a heartless machine, like evolutionary psychology in camouflage. 

Regretfully, he turned his back on the boy and walked away. The boy was later captured by combatants from a rival clan. They took him to a compound with war orphans of all ages, whom they rounded up. The older boys brutalized the younger boys. And the guards brutalized all the boys to toughen them up and turn them into the next generation of soldiers for the revolutionary cause. Jason grew up to be a pitiless killer who massacred old men, mothers, daughters, and young children from the wrong clan, raping the women before shooting them in the head. 


In a parallel universe Jed was a G.I. fighting behind enemy lines in a war-torn  country, ravaged by civil war. He found a war orphan in a burnt-out village. A young boy named Jason. At first the boy was terrified, until he saw that Jed meant no harm. Jed picked him up in his arms and hugged him. 

There was no question about leaving the boy behind. Here was a child with an immortal soul. Yet Jed knew that attempting to rescue him was very risky. They might not make it out alive.

As much as possible they had to avoid public roads and open fields where they might be spotted. Stick to the woods. But that made for slow going. Hunting slowed them down. Often Jed had to carry Jason in his arms through the underbrush. Sometimes they shivered in the rain. While hiking, or huddling before a campfire, Jed told Jason Bible stories about creation; the garden of Eden; Noah's flood; Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and Joseph; the Exodus; King David; Daniel–and especially the Gospels. He taught Jason the Lord's Prayer. Every night, Jason slept in Jed's arms. 

They had many miraculously narrow escapes as they were pursued by the enemy. They sometimes used streams to cover their tracks, and mask their scent from dogs. One time, when the enemy sent hunting dogs to track them down, Jeb had to shoot them. That wasted bullets he might need for self-defense, and the shots gave away their location. Thankfully, the enemy was far enough away that it couldn't find them. 

This went on for weeks. As they were approaching the border, the enemy finally caught up with them. Jed and Jason were cornered. Jed figured it was better to die together than for them to be captured alive. The enemy had a terrifying reputation, confirmed by firsthand observation. He prayed the Lord's Prayer with Jason. Then he pulled out his revolver. It was empty. All the bullets were spent from shooting game and killing the dogs in hot pursuit. But the enemy didn't know that. He pointed the revolver at the approaching combatants. They machine-gunned Jeb and Jason, who died in his arms. 

A moment later, Jeb and Jason stepped out into an amber-lit garden. They heard unearthly music in the distance. Then a nimbic Jesus came to them. He embraced Jeb, then took Jason by the hand, and led them towards the music.