Dear Diary

The mystery is solved. Now I know that the snipers find their way back to the new camp simply by taking a longer route around the perimeter so that they enter from the opposite side. 

I know because I have tried being left behind as a sniper to shoot one or two enemy soldiers. I actually hit three of them but I think the bullet just grazed one of them.

We don’t have many maps of the area and they aren’t really any good to us here in the jungle where everything changes all the time. When you get to be the sniper, you get shown the route and the placement of the next camp on a map that our commander carries. I still haven’t figured out if there is a functioning ranking system or how to find the next superior in the command chain but somehow we just know that this commander is in charge of us.

The Dane as the sniper in his unit
The Dane as the sniper in his unit

So you get to see the map and then you just have to try to remember where the new camp is going to be and where the traps are going to be placed on the way there. After that you are on your own. You have to find a good spot and then you wait. 

I found a tree that had fallen over halfways and was stuck in another Y-shaped tree. It wasn’t going to fall any further right away. The trees here are often a lot bigger than we are used to in Denmark, so I could easily just walk up the trunk without fear of falling. I walked up to the first branches that were quite thick. Here I could be hidden while still having a good view of the area in the direction that the enemy would be coming from. 

It took ages.

I was prepared for waiting and didn’t expect anyone to show up for at least a day and a night. We are used to being ahead of and faster than the American soldiers who have to carry their heavy equipment. But still I seemed to wait forever.

I’m used to the sound of the jungle by now and I’ve become pretty good at handling the different snakes, lizards and bugs, so they weren’t the problem. The waiting was the hardest part for me. It isn’t hard to kill someone when you are in danger of getting killed yourself, but when you just sit around and wait for your prey to show up, all kinds of thoughts pop into your head. 

I thought about the war and the power, own will and destiny in the bigger picture. We are not all volunteers in the war and the ones of us who are here by choice are so due to other circumstances. 

War is horrible to be in, but it is even worse to be waiting to kill. I just sat there in my tree and waited and listened and thought. 

to avoid chickening out of what I was going to do, I started thinking about all the disgusting things the enemy soldiers had done to this country. I thought about all the murders, about burned down villages and fields, about dead children, about dead women, about death. Most of all I thought about the bonfire of corpses and the exploding eye staring at me from within the flames. 

everytime I started to lose my nerve, the thought of them killing off an entire village – women, children and old folks – and burning them in a huge pile, almost made me throw up out of anger.

Nearly two days went by before I heard the characteristic sound of American soldiers in the jungle. I haven’t been here that long myself, but I am just about 100 times more quiet than an American platoon.

The Dane waiting for a long time in the jungle
The long wait

It started with a lot of animals, especially birds, desperately fleeing the noise. Then the Jungle became a little too quiet and all you could hear was the insects, who didn’t know they were in danger, and the wind in the treetops. 

Soon I started hearing twigs and branches snapping and cracking and voices swearing. You would be amazed at how much you can hear, when you are used to being silent in the jungle and have been waiting alone for more than a day.

They were still some way off, but close enough for me to see the foremost two soldiers. 

I had been told not to shoot the first ones that I saw. They were usually scouts and would duck into hiding as soon as they heard the shots. You should at least wait until you see number three soldier or even more than that. 

I waited and thought about the bonfire and the eye. I waited and let myself get filled with hate. When I saw the fifth soldier, I took aim and shot him. I don’t know where I hit him, but he fell down and started screaming. The one, that had appeared just before him, hurried back to help his buddy. I got him too. 

They both lay in a spot where I could easily see them, so instead of running away, I waited to see if I could get one more of them.

I did it. One soldier came out to try and help the two others who were screaming for help but couldn’t get out of there by themselves. This time there is no doubt in my mind. I hit him right in the head. He just fell over and didn’t say a thing.

I knew that they had to be scared by now. They would have to regroup so that they could fire in my direction to provide cover to try and save their wounded. I wasn’t sure if they knew where I was hiding, but since they hadn’t started shooting, I assumed that they didn’t. I took the opportunity to run. I ran as fast as I could to get away from there. It wasn’t until I had run through the jungle for an hour that I started to slow down and begin to cover my tracks and be quiet again. I had to make sure that I didn’t reveal the location of the next camp. 

I have returned to camp in one piece – which kind of goes without saying – since I am writing this now. 

My comrades celebrated my return and I got an extra serving of meat that night. The creepy thing is that it was rewarding enough in itself that I was allowed to shoot some of the enemy’s soldiers. It took a while for me to calm down after the intoxicating experience of getting away with being a sniper. Even now, after it is over, I still don’t feel bad or guilty about what I have done.   

I don’t know if I’ve turned to stone inside or if my morals are completely corrupted, but I do fear the part of me that had to admit that I enjoyed shooting another human being.

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