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GumGuts t1_j1gockb wrote

It was Russia who fired first. When Finland and Sweden were formally admitted to NATO, the Free World began militarizing their borders and funneling in masses of armed forces. We never thought Putin was crazy enough, but we were wrong. Russia declared war, China and Iran quickly followed suit, and the world was dragged into a hopeless war. 

The mobilization of US armed forces created an intractable political divide in the country. Spouts of violence started. First between individuals, and then small militias, and finally entire states. California voted to separate from the Union, followed by New York, then Oregon, then Massachusetts. An already thinly-stretched federal force wasn’t enough to stop them.

Still, the World War raged on. For four years, major battles were fought on every major continent, involving nearly every country on earth. Finally, it seemed the end was near, as NATO forces neared Moscow and Beijing. 

We should have known. Maybe we did, but what could we do. The non-nuclear pact signed at the beginning of the war would never hold. On Christmas eve of the year 2029, a deranged Putin launched every nuclear missile in the Russian arsenal. 

Washington D.C., London, Paris, San Francisco, Seattle, every major city in Europe and North America, was leveled in a matter of days. The retaliation was even worse. Russia, China, and Iran were demolished. Estimates say at least seven hundred and fifty million people died instantly. 

And just like that, the war was over. None of the nations could hope to muster enough forces to continue to fight, and if they could, couldn’t risk the possibility of another nuclear attack. And on New Years day, 2030, a non-aggression pact was signed.

But in America at least, the damage was already done.

I was a nurse before it all happened. I enlisted in the Red Cross, and was deployed, first to a hospital in Germany, and then to a combat hospital in Henderson, Nevada, just outside of Las Vegas. California Separatist and the Federalist would clash frequently there, and it seemed there was no end to the wounded streaming in.

It started when a Separatist, wearing combat fatigues and sporting a rifle slung around his shoulder, walked in with his two young children, a boy and a girl. He seemed confused at first.

“Can I help you?” I asked.

“Their mother is dead and I have to fight. I’m leaving them with you.” And as quickly as he came, he was gone.    

They rarely talked, didn’t like to play, and had to be taught how to clean themselves. They were the only ones the first few months. Then we got a wounded Colonel. I was administering an IV when he pointed at the two children.

“Who are they?” He asked, in a grizzled military tone. The children looked at him sheepishly. 

“Their father left them. We’re looking after them.” I whispered. He humphed. A week later, he was discharged.

And then they started to come. First it was two Separatist soldiers, with five children following behind them, all looking like they were from different parents.

“Our Colonel said we could leave them here.” We now had seven children. Then twelve. Then seventeen. Then word got to the Federalists. By the end of 2032, we had forty two children.

Every month, it seemed there were less wounded and more children. Reserve forces for both sides were drying up, and neither side could risk an assault. Gradually, and not necessarily by choice, we became an orphanage rather than a hospital. 

It wasn’t easy. Food rations from the Red Cross were scant, and many of the children had faced untenable trauma. Supplies always seemed to be running low. Fortunately, the doctors and nurses who had been treating the soldiers found a new calling in the kids.

We did the best we could, but it was hardly ever enough. Sadness and hopelessness seemed to seep in at every corner. Even the staff would break sometimes. These children had grown up in war, seen the bodies and the injuries, had never had a stable home. Many of them didn’t talk, and many liked to fight. They’d often be caught stealing. 

Still, the civil war raged on. We don’t know how long it will be until it ends, or what the world will look like. It’s hard to say the children can even imagine a world that isn’t war. But we soldier on, hoping one day, for peace.