The Mission is the seventh of ten short stories published as a collection by writer and filmmaker Christopher J. Aran in his book, Awake While Dreaming.
A sniper sent to eliminate a target in a rouge jungle growing on Mars, discovers his true self on the journey in solitude.
Ever since we left Earth, they’ve sent me to clean up after their mess as far back as I can remember. Mankind, the great race who lived alone in the universe. Somehow, this idea made us think we could do whatever we wanted. It started out as exploration. Trying to see how far our bodies and minds could reach out into the darkness and understand it. When observing wasn’t enough anymore we started taking things. Picking the pieces from the heavens like greedy little children left undisciplined. If history ever taught us a lesson we’d serve ourselves proper to remember when explorers would venture to new countries during their day. They called these “undiscovered” continents “New Worlds.” These pioneers brought back gold and spices and mysteries unknown coupled with unintentional sickness and death. They brought their own contaminants into virgin lands. If enough people got sick or died then someone would take a stand. This is how people are divided and wars are declared. So we dub it progress. Words, blood, and then silence. Which is where I come in.
Today after centuries of evolution, mankind hasn’t changed one bit. We’ve just expanded. Stretched ourselves past the rolling green hills and deep blue seas and floated into the void. Into the permanent night sky whose boundaries seem unreachable by any vessel manufactured to date. We’ve staked our claim in worlds baked red or trapped in eternal storm. We’ve planted flags in places where grown men act like children, using bigger toys to find more efficient ways to get rid of the opposition. Behavior that creates rebels. Actions which cause them to flee. Some of them are criminals for sure. But many are free thinkers. Scholars. People with an opinion. These days a strong enough opinion is deadly. In my grandparent’s time safe havens used to be places like Mexico or the Middle East. But now they seem to favor remote villages on Mars or on Venus. Thanks to my job I stack up frequent shuttle miles to the best places in the Milky Way. The catch is I have to snuff the light out of someone with that strong opinion. Their weapon of words and ideas fall victim to my government issue rifle and her band of merry bullets. If this week it’s not a body I have to bag, I’ll have to chase down some experiment gone wrong that my government doesn’t want anyone to know about. I was born and breed to be a living eraser …