I am supposed to kill. This is my job. In training they tell me how to kill a man, or woman, then show me. I practice for hours. I stumble down ravines of yellow clay, then run my cold bayonet halfway into stiff tire dummies and flinch when I jerk it out. The pointy end scares my clumsy side. The bright silver winks sideways at me. I shudder with newfound power.

I lie on the green, wet earth, the smell of sweat and concentration billowing around me, and calmly squeeze the trigger. A barely detectable snap of destruction echoes back. A precise hole appears at the center of the head of a man target five hundred yards away. I’m a natural. I have earned my sharpshooter badge. I smile.

Early on, they show me a video of a man being sent to slaughter. He is a British journalist and squeals like a sow when his throat is knifed. Blood spurts high as his heart panics. I nearly vomit on the baby blue carpet.

Nine years later, I watch a Jordanian pilot burn to death in a metal cage sat on moon-dust sand somewhere on the internet. He fights the flames at first, screaming. His melting arms shield his face. He stumbles to a corner, sucks in hot air that does nothing. His cheeks liquefy. His skeleton chars faster than I comprehend. Rage engulfs my fear. If I do not kill first, this is my fate.

[excerpt of Kill Schedule]

Kill Schedule has been published in the Fall 2017 issue of “The Pitkin Review.” To read the entire essay, please buy the issue here.

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