Matt woke up from his sleep like a dead man coming back to life. He is short of breath, his body shivering and sweaty. He reaches for his inhaler haphazardly. The short burst of air from the inhaler seems to give Matt a new life. It is not his asthma attack that woke him from sleep. It is that child and his mother, they appeared in his sleep again. “What was my sin?” the child questioned Matt. His mother stood there without saying anything. The mere thought of their visuals sends shivers across his body. These visuals are becoming more frequent and terrifying each day. With the hope of not waking up to such sights, Matt goes back to sleep once again.
Retired Major General Matt Houston was once a part of the fifth battalion of the United States Army. He served for over twenty five years in the army. Initially admitted as a cadet, Matt rose to higher ranks rather quickly, due to his passion and commitment to serve his country. But when he didn’t wear the uniform he was a different man altogether. Alcohol was his best friend, and he was famous for creating havoc when he was intoxicated in parties and gatherings. This even led him to some edgy situations in the Army with his uniform at stake, but he was let go considering his passion and commitment to work. When the US army was fighting a war in Vietnam, Matt was serving as a Captain.
The next day, Matt woke up early morning. Last Night’s events were still fresh in his mind. His eyes were sore and his face was weak. He hadn’t been able to sleep much since these terrifying visions began to appear in his dreams and his conscious state. His wife had passed last year and since then he had been living alone. He sat in his rocking chair, his eyes closed and his mind dated back to the night that changed his entire life.
It was the night before Matt and his brigade were to leave Vietnam, the war was over and their brigade was the last to leave. The troops were having a small bonfire, having alcohol and listening music on the radio. As the night went on the troops were heavily intoxicated and lost control of their senses, they began acting like a bunch of teenagers on the street at night with no one to stop them. They danced, broke glass bottles and damaged some public property. But this was not it; a few of them including Matt entered a compound where Vietnamese families lived. They barged into an apartment which belonged to a man, his wife and their eight year old son. The soldiers seemed like barbarians, dreadful and inconvincible by anything. They put a knife next to the man and raped his wife in front of him. She pleaded for mercy and her husband panicked like a bird being slaughtered, shouting and trying to break free. Matt stood there with the bottle of whisky in his hand, laughing like a dead soul. When the soldiers were leaving, the husband of the woman pounced on them from behind and got hold of Matt’s gun. In an attempt to free the gun Matt wrestled with the man grabbing his forearm. Suddenly, a shot was fired. There was utter silence in the room and their ears were deafened by the loud bang of the gun. As Matt looked down he saw the bodies of both the man and his eight year old son with a small puddle of blood beside them.
This incident has been haunting Matt ever since. He retired from army soon after returning back from Vietnam.
He opened his eyes. He saw the child sitting at the edge of his chair by his feet and looking up in Matt’s eyes. Matt was struck with terror he got up from his chair and ran towards the bathroom. His chest was moving up and down from the heavy breathing. He opened the tap to wash his face, instead of water; he saw blood running from it. Matt pulled back from the sink almost falling towards the door. These visuals were frequent with each day gone by; it was becoming difficult for him to cope.
The following night Matt had been up all night in his bed. The face of the woman couldn’t let her sleep. She looked at Matt and shouted for mercy. Her scream, her pain and her face all echoed in his mind, he then remembered the child. The way he was looking at his mother with his eyes still trying to figure out what was going on and then his body as it lay on the ground with blood spilling out from his chest. Matt couldn’t deal with it anymore, he thought to himself. All these years of enduring this guilt and terror. Death was his real medication; he slowly put his feet on the ground as he stood up from the bed, dragged himself towards the cupboard and took out his revolver.