It never occurred to me that I was anti-war, but based on some recent short stories I’ve penned, maybe I am. It’s difficult to say for sure when I support and respect so many people who have served this country, but even my soldier friends tell me tales I’d rather forget.
I wrote my new short story, “Project: Terminated” several months before the tragedy in Paris, but I imagine I was gripped by some level of anger even then over The State of Things. While writing, I imagined a world where dead soldiers are brought back to life and made to serve again. I created a war zone where our emotions have become the enemy. Yet, without our emotions, what are we? Monsters?
Published in the December issue of New Myths Magazine, “Project: Terminated” allows you to make your own decision. Does my heroine, Sasha, deserve another chance, despite all the lives she’s taken? Has war destroyed my Emotive, Tobin, who reads the minds of terrorists like you read the newspaper? Is it too late for them–for all of us?
It’s our decision whether we look at Paris and choose anger and hate, but as I heard in church yesterday, if anger was a useful tool for stopping evil in the world, we’d have had peace centuries ago. Read “Project: Terminated” and make your own decision: will we be monsters, or will we be heroes?
An excerpt from “Project: Terminated”
by Sara Dobie Bauer
Featured in New Myth‘s December edition
The first time they met, he was passed out on the couch in Sasha’s colonel’s office. She walked in, and Colonel White pointed at the gangly mass of wrinkled clothes, shaggy hair, and track marks and said, “We got you an Emotive.”
“Sir, he’s unconscious.”
White, the man in charge of building her team, nodded. “Tobin needs a lot of rest.” He stood: a big man with bulging muscles and hair that matched his name. “He’s the most advanced Emotive we’ve seen, but readings take a lot out of him.”
“Plus, he’s a drug addict,” she said.
“I’m clean,” muttered the wad of fabric, skin, and bones. Tobin sat up and revealed a head-full of curly, blond hair and a gaunt, pale face. When he rubbed his eyes, his fingertips burnt blue.
“Shit,” Sasha said.
“We couldn’t leave him on the streets,” White said. “Not with him manifesting like that. Plus, he volunteered.”
She whispered, “I can’t have a homeless drug addict backing me up overseas. Colonel.”
“I’m not a drug addict anymore,” Tobin said. “And I’m not homeless.” He looked down at the couch. “Anymore.”
“Look. He only used drugs to subdue his powers.” White put his hand on her shoulder. “Now, we’ve got one of the Dallas bombers here—the one who survived. Tobin’s gonna talk to him. Find out their next target.”
Sasha sighed. “How old are you?” she asked the Emotive.
Tobin reached into the back pocket of his jeans and pulled out a smoke. He lit up and looked at her with weary eyes the color of mud. “I don’t see how that matters. Do you know how old your used parts are, patchwork girl?”
Sasha glared at her colonel but followed when White guided Tobin toward the interrogation room. Through double-sided glass, she saw their terrorist: a man with dark hair and bright eyes who’d helped blow up half of Cowboys stadium and killed thousands, along with his buddies.
She was surprised when Tobin went in alone. White made no move to follow, but he watched through the glass, something akin to pride on his weathered face.
The terrorist smiled at Tobin’s entrance, his hands cuffed to the metal table. “What the hell are you supposed to be?” he asked in accented English.
Tobin sat across from the man and sighed. He exhaled smoke toward the ceiling. “What’s the next target?”
Sasha could only see the back of him, but the Emotive was relaxed. In fact, “couldn’t give a shit” came to mind.
The terrorist spit in Tobin’s face.
Tobin wiped at his cheek. “You were supposed to die in there, weren’t you? Why didn’t you? Did you run, like a coward?”
“I am no coward.”
“But you’re alive.” Tobin stubbed out his cigarette on the table and picked at his fingernails. His fingers started glowing that shade of iridescent, underwater blue. “You really should be dead.”
Sasha noticed the terrorist’s face changed. He went from proud and cocky to concerned, worried even.
Then, Tobin’s hand reached out and closed around the back of the man’s wrist. The room glowed blue. “Where’s the next attack?”
“I don’t know.”
“I’ll die before I tell you.”
“You shamed your people,” Tobin said. “You should have died in that blast, but you didn’t. You lost your place in paradise.”
The terrorist winced then shouted in pain. The blue light turned bluer.
“You hate me so much,” Tobin said. “So much hate.” He paused, tilted his head as if listening. Then, over his shoulder, toward the glass, he said, “Chicago. Flight 560 to Phoenix.”
The terrorist shook his head as if willing the truth to not seep into Tobin’s blue light. Then, Tobin reached out the fingers of his right hand and pushed them into his enemy’s forehead. The blue light went white. The terrorist, eyes still wide, fell dead on the tabletop.
The colonel said, “We’ve got to stop him from doing that.”