On a hill full of fire is where I spoil. For 500 shekels less a month, they make sure I take my turn watching. Watching over what? Fighters who shoot themselves because they’d rather be in charge of their own lives for once? Sit for more than ten minutes and they make me stand for an extra hour. After a while I can’t even tell if it’s sweat or urine running down my leg. Does it matter?

Swallowing pins does nothing to send me to the front of the line. It just invents another way to observe. Only this time I’m not guarding anything. I watch the laggardly diminishing line and wait for hours for a pill. They don’t believe me, but they give me one, thinking I’ve gone mental talking about pins in my stomach when I’m showing signs of anxiety from knowing every single patient in front of me is getting looked at first, as if inhaling fumes of malodorous flatulence stamped across souls afflicted with the desire to dissipate like a cloud of dust had nothing to do with it. If only it were a pill that would put me to sleep forever. No such luck. I’m still here, ain’t I? Where are those pins?!

Anywhere…anything…is better than being here. Even an insane asylum where we would be treated like live dolls, not knowing the rules of the game and how many days had passed and if your friends were still alive. Where it was up to some Doctor if we received a glass of water or we would go without.

I can’t talk to anyone while I stand guard alone or they scream in my face until I feel the spit spewing from their drip coffee laden tongues. How much I would enjoy cutting their tongues off and watch them howling in painful silence. Nowhere to run. Nowhere to hide. Just golden jackals chasing their tails on a Möbius strip.

Above the hill I am face to face with the kill fence—you touch, you die, they said. Once I saw a striped hyena burst into flames as soon as its fur came into collision with the razor wire. As if they really need us to stand here. They sit behind four layers of plexiglass that traps a .357 Magnum’s bullet, not that you will see one of those here. Some fighters swallow spiral springs and get sent back to the tents with the same pill they send you to treat insomnia.

We are Dalí clocks covered in crawling ants, every last one, counting down the minutes to the end of our training, the days to the end of our service, and at the same time, praying we will not wake up the next morning. Time has no meaning beyond carrying us to our next duty or cutthroating us to our punishment. We are here—to think of ways to pass the time or think of ways to end the passage of time.

What’s 500 shekels to me? Send me as a fighter—anywhere but this place where I stand and rot and imagine ways ligament by ligament to disappear into the hill full of fire.

The remaining shekels will travel home and it’ll still be just 300 because it’ll take 500 to bury me in the ground. Then and only then is pazam over.

YuMin Ye

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