Down the loading ramp and across the plateau of coffee brown earth, we walk with packs, flaks, and weapons. We have arrived in Afghanistan.
Each step we take along the 'road' towards our camp causes small mushroom clouds of moondust to bloom underneath our heavy leather boots, as if foreshadowing the destruction we've been sent here to bring. An atom bomb goes off with each step taken and we are the fallout.
We're giant alien men in a desolate alien world. Perpetual foreigners. Professional fighters from an immigrant nation, traveling the world to wage war on another man's soil.
Pulling off my sunglasses as I walk, I blink back against the light that spills in from every direction and surges up from the flat reflective ground.
Flat. It's so fucking flat. So barren, dusty and blank. Lifeless, but teaming with movement. Steal freaks outside of nature and utterly removed from the landscape lumber along on treads or soar through the air on tilted rotor blades. Tan clad dead men soar in the skies aboard flying coffins. Others stalk the earth.
In this part of the world Middle Eastern oil is pumped through western machines and used to fuel industry in the lands we've killed and we are utterly oblivious to the fact that it doesn't want the life we're offering it. This land. It's people, they don't want the existence we've crafted for them. Which is probably why we killed them in the first place.
We try unsuccessfully to breathe life back into a corpse, but succeed only in creating a socio-economic monster like some new age Doctor Frankenstein that will one day wake and unleash hell through righteous rage and indignation.
We're laying the foundation for our own destruction with every brick we slam into place. Every building we construct. Every western ideal that we push on eastern land and eastern people serves only to corrupt. We're the greatest obstacle in our own path. We bring American freedom to Afghan people, and never consider that they may want more than the pursuit of happiness. They may want true freedom. Something we cannot offer them.
Tearing my eyes away from the tar-less runway I fall in with the rest of our company and drop my flak jacket. The heavy wool lining is already slick with sweat. It's the dead of winter and the sun bears down on us, causing rivers to run from our brows and make waterfalls off of our chins.
I've finally arrived. I'm finally on the path that will bring me to the door. Right up to it. Knocking at it. Begging to look through to the other side. I'm not ready to cross over, but I want to see what's through the looking glass too badly to stay away.
I will know soon enough, and even now, I'm aware that I won't like what I find. Which only makes me want to see it more.