PVT Vincent "Lucky" Arnold

Member of the Angry Birds' Army

War.

Such a horrible word. To this day, it makes me flinch when I hear it. So destructive, so devastating. Especially one as pointless as this one.

Of course, I didn't think that at first. I was young and naïve, a young and starry-eyed Red Bird who fully believed in his own ability to save the day. Those green bastards stole our eggs, and by god, I was going to get them back. So it was at the young age of 16 (in bird years) that I enlisted into the ABA—or the Angry Bird Army. And after two months of fast-forwarded training—at that time, we didn't have many troops and we needed more out there—I was right where I wanted to be. In position on the slingshot, anxious to be fired into those pigs' poor excuse of a building.

I was the very first one shot, and at first, taking off through the air, it was amazing. Then I hit the side of the shaky structure and sent it all tumbling down, crushing the two ugly ass pigs sitting inside, the oblivious bastards. I got a black eye and countless bruises from that shot, but it was victory, and with all those cheers swirling around me, I was proud.

And that's how it was for the next few battles. We easily took them down and celebrated our victory. It wasn't always me, but I was eager to jump into the sling and get catapulted into the pig's attempts at fortresses. I was nick-named Lucky because I always seemed to hit the building in exactly the right spot to either send it down or cause enough damage as to where it would tumble down on the next turn. My squadron took down by far more pigs than all the rest.

But then something happened, and the tide shifted. The pigs learned how to build.

One day our squad took down yet another of the measly forts, and the next, we had to actually take out a half-assed building. It took us longer than usual and maybe even a bit of strategy, but we took it down. The next was better built than the last. It seemed like the green bastards had taken a crash course in carpentry. And it happened almost overnight.

Sometimes it took us forever to take down one of their buildings, that could actually be called a building now. Sometimes all that we had achieved by the end of the day were broken bones and bruises. For the first time, we actually had casualties. We shot ourselves at the forts again and again, hitting steel and not even cracking it.

Sometimes the only way that we could bring down a fort was to send one of our men flying into a crate of TNT, and the cruel green bastards knew it. What they didn't expect was us actually being gutsy enough to do it. We'd get up early in the morning and take turns volunteering to hit it. The bird that got picked wrote a letter to his family right before being catapulted, since it was likely that he wouldn't live through an explosion like that. I lost many a friend that way. We destroyed the buildings, but there was no pride or victory in it, at least not for me. Those birds had lives outside of the army. They had wives. Families. Brothers and sisters and mothers and fathers and aunts and uncles and friends who would never hear from them again.

Finally I couldn't take it anymore. When you're in the army, friends are all you have. They're like your family. You have to rely one another. And now, all of mine were dying, and I didn't see a point in my own existence. I felt as if I had let them down because I couldn't save them.

And so, one morning I jumped up to volunteer to be shot at the crate of dynamite. Everyone begged me not to, telling me that I was too valuable. But they were talking about Lucky, and I didn't feel like Lucky anymore. I just felt like plain old Vincent. And Vincent didn't feel like living anymore.

So I wrote my letter to my mom and dad and baby brother, I thought briefly of what would happen to them when I was gone, but I couldn't conjure up emotion to feel sad. I felt like I'd let them down, too. We'd been out here for a while now, and we still hadn't gotten our precious eggs back. There didn't seem much point in bombing buildings if we didn't get what the whole war was started over after doing so.

I got in the sling one last time and was shot at the dynamite. There was only one thing wrong, though. I didn't hit the dynamite. I was supposed to, but my squad had failed to correctly measure my trajectory. Instead of hitting the crate dead-on like I was supposed to and be blasted into smithereens, I hit a piece of plywood right above it, and sent it falling down, right on top of the TNT.

I guess that's why they call me Lucky, but I didn't feel very lucky at the time. Actually, at the time, I was scared shitless.

It took less than ten seconds, but it seemed like eternity and then some. Time slowed down to a crawl as I watched the piece of wood tip over and fall onto the box. Then it exploded, and I was flying backward. My vision went black and a loud ringing filled my ears. I felt myself making contact with the ground and rolling backward. Then came the pain. It was from all over, and I felt like I had died and was now in hell. I heard someone screaming, but it didn't occur to me until later that it was myself who was doing it.

I don't know what happened after that. I fainted, and the next thing I knew, I woke up in the hospital, much to my dismay.

The first night in the hospital, I tried to get out of bed and throw myself out the window. I was screaming my head off at the nurses, who held me down as I tried to writhe out of their grasp. But it was to no avail, because in the next few minutes, I was stuck by a needle and faded into unconsciousness quickly.

While I was passed out, I had horrific flashbacks. Explosions. Destruction. All of my friends, poofing into nothing more than a bunch of lifeless colored feathers right before my eyes. And those green bastards, laughing at me. Mocking me. I'm sure those nurses thought I was many cards shy of a full deck, what with all the yelling I was doing in my sleep.

I was diagnosed with PTSD (post traumatic stress disorder) and depression. My family came and visited me while I was still in the hospital nursing my wounds, but at first they seemed like strangers to me. I didn't do anything but glare at them until they left that first day.

Slowly, though, it got better for me. I finally realized that I was no longer on the frontlines anymore, and that these people weren't the enemy—in fact, they were my friends. I still wasn't very stable, though, and I still had a death wish. So when they finally told me I could go home, I wasn't free by a long shot. My family hovered over me, watching me carefully and making sure I took my medicine and didn't do anything too rash.

One thing was for sure. I was never going back to the army. Lucky was no more.

However, things did get better. Bit by bit, they did. I realized that I truly was "Lucky" for still being alive. It took a lot of convincing myself that not everyone on the street was a green bastard in disguise. And slowly but surely, joy returned to my life, even though I would still wake up some nights screaming my head off.

But the war still rages on. And despite my best attempts, I can't stop it. I try to convince others that it's a fruitless war, that the pigs have already probably made our eggs into omelets and there was nothing we could do about it, but nobody will listen to me. I've also tried to explain to them that if we really wanted to get back at those green bastards, we should steal some of their kids and make them into bacon, but they won't listen to me on that point either.

Hopefully, one day, they will see the truth and get our troops out of there. They'll see how stupid this war is. How it's ruined the lives of many birds like myself. And how war, in and of itself, is just not worth it.