A quick short story (47/100)

We been at war since the 60s. It’s not one continuous war though. Actually, they’re not even wars, I guess. Presidents have called them a series of extended conflicts or engagements. That way they don’t have to go to congress and declare it war. That’s a whole process. Should have paid more attention in poli sci, but I was only in that class as a prerequisite. Didn’t think I’d had to pay attention or, what am I trying to say, retain it.

I wanted to be an officer in the army. I worked hard to finish my BS in Statistical Models from UTA so I’d get a spot of authority, took my lumps in ROTC (unlike a lot of the guys who’re drafted or enlist) and thought I’d be ready to rock. Hell, I was ready. Tough as nails, my old man would say. Turns out I have type-2 diabetes and all that effort meant nothing. Guess a guy with erratic blood sugar drops could be a liability in combat, I don’t know.

So here I am, talking to one of those empathetic cop bots, describing the scene, when it hands me a tissue. “I’m fine. I don’t need one,” I said. It says, “it’s not for your emotional state but to wipe off the blood from your cheek and forehead.”

I’d never seen the girl before. She wasn’t a regular at the Albertsons that I remember. I work hard to remember names and faces, greet people when they come in. It’s the least I could do as an officer of security. I tell it that.

Man, talking to one of those bots still freaks me out. They’re just recording it, I guess. Maybe some human cops’ll listen to the file or whatever later; get some information out of this stupid looking machine. You know what they look like? Like, you remember those old Keurig machines from the 2010’s? The ones you pop a pod in and get coffee tasting exactly the way you’d think a robot’d make it? It’s like that but with a big, stupid touch panel where it’s “face” should be. Those composite faces they display on those screens, man. That’s some racist shit, right there. Change the face of the person you’re talking to to a race or sex that it assumes is going to be comfortable for you. Fucking dumb.

So I tell the bot that the girl was acting crazy. Kind of crazy you think, as a security guard at an Albertsons trying to protect late-night shoppers, might lead to violence. I didn’t think she was one of those Soviet or Chinese terrorists from the movies. Maybe she was angry because one of those chulo guys who were with her cheated. I don’t know if that’s the right word for a Mexican man. That don’t make me racist though. I just don’t know the term they use.

She was pointing a gun at those chulos — I’m just going to call ’em that. She was screamin’ and carryin’ on. Then she turns the gun on me and my instincts kicked in. I told her to put the gun down but she didn’t listen.

So I shot her.

I wasn’t aiming for her head. Truth is, and don’t tell anyone because I have to keep up my appearances here, I was scared to death. I didn’t know how she was going to behave, what she was going to do. She had those crazy eyes, so I…I put her down.

And now she’s one of those statistics — the ones those Progressives are always going on about. She’s a statistic because of me…

Could you excuse me for a minute? I’m not just now not feeling too well.