I haven’t really had to make a difficult decision, because in hindsight, the decision was always made for me.
Circumstances demanded that I choose the path I decided to take; whether those circumstances were to do with pride, anger, the desire to impress people (all shitty reasons), because somebody else made the decision for me, or because my awareness at that time limited the options I could see, so I picked what most made sense at the time.
Some decisions are made with thought, others with feeling. The best decisions are made with a balance of both, although sometimes I don’t have time to think and I just shoot from the hip so to speak.
The most difficult decision I made was back when we were mining on Koi.
Fucking company told us that there was nothing to worry about, the planet would probably not support any life except bacteria because of the temperature there.
They were wrong.
We’d all had basic training in what to do if we ever came across aliens. We’d been schooled in various types of life that we might encounter on each of the planets we mined on before we left town, but still…
It didn’t alter the fact that the boffins at head office had completely fucked up. Sure, the climate wasn’t friendly to Earth life (not that I’d know, I’ve never been there), but underground was a different matter.
What we’d found, you see, was a network of warrens filled with great hairy albino moles, with big claws and big mouths full of sharp teeth. They didn’t take too kindly to us digging into their tunnels, so we stopped the machines and shot the living fuck out of each one of them when they charged at us.
Well what else were we going to do? We were scared shitless; we acted on instinct.
We had no idea what level of intelligence they were, we didn’t see anything artificial or anything resembling what we’d call civilisation, but the foreman said we couldn’t take any chances. Got to follow the rules she says, got to follow procedures.
After the hubbub died down, we moved everything and set up camp somewhere else. That night, we all sit around the common room in the module and talk about what happened. We decide that we can’t shoot any more of those things unless they charge us again, and we’d use a low energy pulse so’s not to kill them. The foreman needed to contact the company, and ask what to do next; that was the protocol. We all agreed that the moles were probably just that, moles, so the most we’d have to worry about was fending them off rather than them following us off this rock and attacking the rest of us.
I was woken up by the screaming, never heard anything like it in my life, still can’t get it out of my head. It was pitch black, the lights wouldn’t work, power had been cut. I could smell blood and the stink of mole as I sat up in my bunk, looking around the blackness of my mind for what I should do next; use my hands or find my gun. The crew in the other dorm rooms were screaming, the metal of the module was screaming, the moles were screaming…everything around me was screaming.
I got out of my bunk and got into my suit, then used the pulse-hammer on my arm to punch a hole through the dorm wall and then ran through every wall and every thing in my path; I didn’t stop until I was outside and into the moonlight.
I saw somebody being dragged into the ground feet first, it was the foreman. She was screaming her lungs out, scrabbling around and digging her fingers into the earth, trying to hold on. I knew she wouldn’t make it, knew I probably wouldn’t be able to run in time.
So I shot her, blew her fucking brains out along with her head and most of her upper body; it was the right thing to do. Fucking hardest decision I’ve ever had to make, but I wasn’t going to let her be torn apart under there by those things.
There were people running behind me, one or two wearing suits but the rest were running in their long johns; they must have been fucking freezing. We all ran for the shuttle and took off, headed back to our ship which was waiting in orbit for us.
I thought back on that job, wondered what I’d have done differently. Sure, I could have gone back and shot at more of those things, maybe saved more lives; or maybe if we hadn’t have taken off the moles would have torn up the shuttle and we’d all be dead. They gave me a medal for getting us all out of the module, quick thinking in the face of danger and all that.
I sure as fuck don’t feel like a hero.
Based on a prompt from CreativeWritingPrompts.com