This story is by Dustin Walker and was part of our 2017 Winter Writing Contest. You can find all the writing contest stories here.
John? It’s Raina. I know you probably weren’t expecting to hear from me. I don’t have long; maybe ten minutes. But if you are hearing this it means two things. One, I succeeded, and two, I’m now dead. I’m sorry to have to do it this way but I didn’t have a choice.
I messed up John. Real bad, and I need you to know why.
As crazy as it sounds, I’m on the ICBM that is headed for the base, the missile you’ve no doubt detected, which has you scrambling to try and save as many people as you can. Well, as I’m recording this message I’m trying to divert the missile. You always tell me to stop talking when I’m working. You say that it distracts me. Well, if this works, then you’ll be glad I took the time to think about sending this to you. If anything, you get to have closure. Something I never got when my last partner died.”
Come on Raina you got this. You wouldn’t be assigned here if you weren’t good at hacking computers. Okay, the main computer regulates the guidance system through these wires. Let’s see what happens when I attempt to disconnect them.
I know that working with me has never been easy. We always fought on our missions over who was right and over who got the credit. I suppose that is how all this began: with my stupid need to impress those who are over us. You see, John, I was jealous of you. You were always the one who got the attention of the commanders, even when I felt I deserved it. Even when I was the hero, somehow you always got the credit.
You don’t have to say it because I can already hear you yapping about my success. I’ve gotten plenty of credit. I’ve done more than you’ll ever do. I am the reason why we haven’t lost the war. Blah blah blah.
Remember six months ago when you were captured by that rogue Taliban sect? Remember how they beat the shit out of you, and you never told them anything? You were commended for that. I rescued you, and I was told off for not letting them kill you. I don’t know if you knew that, John. Right after your debriefing I was called into Commander Maxwell’s office. He said I had taken an unnecessary risk and I should have evacuated.
Fucking idiot. They would have broken you before they killed you, and they would have taken the launch codes for the cache of nukes at our base. I couldn’t let that happen, and even though I tried to explain it to Maxwell, he wouldn’t listen. ‘What if you had been captured?’ he said. ‘You would have broken long before him and given them the codes.’
He nearly demoted me that day. I couldn’t tell you about what the commander said. I knew you would take it personally, so I told you that Maxwell said good job to me and left it at that.
I lied to you, John, because I wanted to protect you, just like I lied to Maxwell about the reason I went back for you.
Shit. Only seven minutes now, and I still haven’t diverted the damn bomb. Maybe the problem is deeper in the guidance system. I’m attempting to jettison the main computer so that maybe the backup CPU will take commands from me. If I can do that then I can set new coordinates and get this damn thing away from civilians.
You see, John, I know you. Probably better than you know yourself. I know about how serious you take your work. I know how much passion you have for protecting the country. You take any and all criticism as a personal attack against you. You always hold yourself to perfect standards, always bettering yourself. I think that’s why I always was upset towards you.
You never showed that kind of passion toward me, and I was always hoping I’d be the one you’d set your sights on.
I know, right? It’s so shocking. You didn’t know that I had feelings for you did you?
And now I get to make it hurt worse for you by telling you right before I die. I’m at least assuming you had feelings for me too. Which you probably don’t and I’m babbling along like a fucking idiot about having feelings for you right before I die, and you’re just like ‘eh, whatever.’
You’re a dick John. Hope you know that.
But that’s why I went back for you. Not to keep the codes safe. I did it to save you. I hope that and my hatred for Maxwell explains what I did next.
Ah yes! The main computer has been jettisoned. Okay I’m inputting new coordinates. Come on you son-of-a-bitch, take the damn course change. This computer is archaic. It’s going to take at least a minute if not longer to respond. Doesn’t this thing know I have no time for this bullshit? Five minutes to impact.
So now we come to what happened last week. I’m sure there’s no need to remind you. You fucked up the mission and Maxwell sacked me. Me! Not you! I was blamed for the death of Lieutenant Martin. But as you very well know it wasn’t my fault. YOU have a death on YOUR hands. Not me. I never got anyone killed.
But Maxwell didn’t see it that way. He said I should have been keeping a better eye on things, that I was negligent in my duty. But he didn’t court-martial me like he should have. Do you know what he did instead?
He fucking marooned me out in the middle of the desert! He didn’t tell you that did he? What did he say? That I’d been dishonorably discharged? That I had been reassigned? That I’d been captured or went home? Whatever I don’t care.
Come on you damn computer! Three minutes left to impact. If it doesn’t take the course change before the one minute mark, a lot of people are going to die.
Anyway, I was captured by a gang of desert pirates who smelled as though they liked to bathe in each other’s shit.
They raped me, John. All of them fucking raped me.
The fuckers even made a game out of who could last the longest. But I escaped. I don’t even know how. Then I managed to sneak into a nearby missile bunker. I hacked into the computer and used the targeting scanners to locate Maxwell’s base.
And then I launched the missile. I wanted the son-of-a-bitch to pay for what he did to me.
I wasn’t thinking John. I was still in shock from the trauma and grossed out from that putrid smell that was now all over me. I forgot that you were with him. It was fortunate that these missiles take three minutes to prime before launching. But they cannot be aborted when the launch sequence is activated, so I had only two options: let you die knowing that I killed you, or try and get inside the missile and hack the guidance system to divert it from its target. I wouldn’t have been able to live with myself knowing that you died because of me.
So, I hope you know that it was I that saved your neck John! Even though you wouldn’t be in any danger if I had been thinking. For what it’s worth, I’m sorry.
Thank God! The new coordinates took. New heading bearing twenty degrees northwest. Destination: the Mediterranean Sea. Time to Impact: one minute. That was too close.
You’re safe now John. There’s a minute left before I reach the sea, so let me tell you one last thing.
Maxwell was right. You deserved all the glory. I was the screw up. I messed everything up. For you. For us. I hope to God that deep down you felt what I felt for you. I know that I’ll never know if you did, well, maybe I will depending on whether I go to Heaven after this. Do you believe in Heaven John?
I don’t know how I feel about it. But I’ve got twenty seconds to pray I guess. I’m encoding this transmission to send to you as soon as the recording stops. You’ll find it in your personal database.
Do me one favor okay? Make sure Maxwell gets what’s coming to him. Don’t let him get away with this. Remember me okay? I’m so sorry John. I love…