Karma’s Ripples

He knew exactly what’d taken place.

The firefight wound down. Adrenalin still scorched his nerves, numbed his muscles, and drove instincts and senses. The others were in front of him. “Rat-a-tat-tat,” he said, shooting into his comrades’ backs. Laughter poured out of him as they jerked. “Rat-a-tat-tat.”

That was it. They were dead. He was alive. He’d enjoyed it, to be truthful. Killing felt good. Killing was the best way to set yourself free. He put his rifle in another dead man’s hand. “Bang, bang,” he said to the dead man, what’s his name? Why’d the dead have names? They’d never use them.

One sat up to his left. He didn’t see. Later, he knew, because he was the one, the one who’d killed, the one who was the killer, and the one who came back to kill the killer. Karma’s ripples were bigger than he’d known or suspected.

Sitting up, a temporary life in a dead man, he watched himself laugh as he remembered laughing, and then pointed the assault rifle at himself and emptied the magazine into himself, regretfully smiling as he jerked, gushed blood, and finally sank to the floor. Even so injured, he managed to turn his head and look at him. His lips moved, but he didn’t speak. He remembered, though, that he’d been about to say, “You,” because he knew, he knew.

It was really a mercy. With that done, he left the dead man and the site, returning to the bardo from whence he’d come. At last, he felt peace. At last, all the voices in his head fell quiet. At last, all the dead left him alone.

At last, karma’s ripples died.

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