Fragment IV - A Machine that Fed on Blood (Marcel III)

"They call us filth," Édith shouts, "but they're the ones with blood on their hands! What stains the dear fingers of us working girls is a liquid of another kind, eh?"

Laughter and drunken cheering — then unexpectedly, she turns to me, "What says the old soldier, eh Marcel? Whose blood you spill?"

I give her a puzzled look. 

"A joke," she makes a face, "—herr Marcel; I shan't say you look a day older than me."
"No, that you'd call me a soldier." I say. "I haven't fought in a war, save for the struggle of downing a mug of what passes for beer here. For this they should give me a medal." I say with a grin.

She's not convinced.

"I see many soldiers in my line of work — up quite close and personal I should add — and you hold yourself as they do," she replies, peering over at me, "got that look in your eyes also."

She was right about everything. I had fought, I did indeed have blood on my hands — and if things were to continue as I had set them to, my hands would remain so stained.

While I was stationed with the colonial forces near the Namib, a visiting British officer had told me that the whole project of colonialism functioned on the same mechanism to a weapon they had, called the Maxim Gun. A beastly thing that could tear a man in half, it cemented their rule in terror — and fired with a unique mechanism: each shot would power the action of the next, an eternal cycle of violence. A machine that fed on blood, where the greatest effort on the part of the operator was to release the trigger. 

At the time I considered him an old fool, but here I am — finger on the trigger, hesitant to fire.

-Marcel III : August 2nd, 1907