Chapter 1 - China's Civil War
Wars often destroyed dreams; a destructive force, breaking men’s strengths and creating monsters…
On August 1st, 1927, the year when the Communist Party launched an uprising in Nanchang against the Nationalist Government in Wuhan, leading to the creation of the Red Army, a civil war between the Chinese Communist Party and the Kuomintang-led government of the Republic of China began.
When the major forces of the Red Army had left Nanchang on August 4th, and headed southwest for an assault on Guangdong, havoc rocked across the country, leaving no stone unturned. Yet, despite the countless deaths of soldiers on the battlefield — of innocent civilians caught in the crossfire, the fighting continued.
Two years onward, the civil war showed no signs of stopping.
Nothing had changed, unfortunately. The streets remain covered in ashes, and all the people still divided themselves against each other. Bullets riddled the plain fields, and military vehicles flooded the roads, too. Nothing changed, nothing except for the bloodshed. The bloodshed turned much greater than before. Blood soaked the streets as bodies of young men littered their wake.
Xiao Fang, a young twenty-seven-year-old doctor who grew up in Chongqing, through his father’s teachings, believed that war was never the answer to humanity’s problems. But when the war arrived as the face of the Chinese Communist Party, banging on his front door like a raging beast, threatening to steal his beloved country, he vowed an oath to fight them until death. So, despite the ache he felt in his heart, the young doctor understood his dreams no longer mattered because China deserved to remain controlled by the righteous Kuomintang-led government.
At the start of the war, Xiao Fang had registered in the Nationalist military, despite not knowing the weaponry. However, luck was not in his favor, and Xiao Fang’s new craving for doing an honorable duty toward his country seemed more of a dream and less of a reality as the Nationalist Headquarters declined his registration.
At the time, the military did not need weaker, unskilled men, but Xiao Fang never viewed himself as inadequate. He had an excellent mind for medicine, and a keen eye for spotting the enemy, and although he might have been on the frailer side of the human population, his fighting skills were beyond average.
But unfortunately, in battle, guns ruled over a thinking mind. So disheartened, Xiao Fang accepted he would be of no use and continued catering to the ill in Chongqing’s main hospital.
However, in a recent turn of events — when the fight against the Communist Party failed to ease, Xiao Fang got accepted. Because of that, the Nationalist military required further human resources. And so, the Chinese Republic Headquarters assigned him to the scheduled date, and his registration letter was finally considered. It was a proud moment for the doctor, despite the daring outcome.
When Xiao Fang arrived at Wuhan Headquarters, he never expected his heart would burn the way it did. But whenever his eyes landed on any war-torn photographs pinned up on a show board inside the headquarters building, a strangled gasp forced its way out of his mouth, and his eyes often doubled in size.
He knew the war was not a pretty picture, but the thought of dying of starvation, losing an arm, or a leg, or being a prisoner of war sent a dread rocking past his spine and making him shiver on the spot. He promised himself that he would fight to the death, but now he felt like a coward for having second thoughts.
A commanding voice filled with authority, snapped Xiao Fang out of his dilemma, almost making him second-guess his decision in joining the fight against the Communist Party.
“Yes?” He turned around, standing tall and proud and showing no ounce of weakness.
“That’s yes, sir,” the older man corrected, though his voice carried no bitterness. A commander, Xiao Fang suspected, judging by the man’s uniform. “I’m Commander Li Tang. Follow me.”
“Yes, sir,” Xiao Fang cleared his throat, fearing he might have angered the commander.
As he adjusted the straps against his duffle bag, the young doctor followed the old commander past a busy corridor of recently enlisted military personnel and veterans alike until they arrived near the end where a registration sign plastered itself upon the door frame, much like the tenth ones they passed by. Inside was rather bland looking. The walls were white, but they must’ve gotten dirty from the years of neglect, not that it mattered when the war was more of a concern.
“You applied earlier,” the commander, Li Tang, stated as he took a seat on the centered desk, his fingers skimming through a stack of papers in his hand, unbothered as Xiao Fang still stood in the corner. “And to my understanding, you’re a doctor, is that correct?"
“Yes, sir,” Xiao Fang smiled — a bright smile that could’ve lit up the room if it wasn’t for the sound of bullets rattling outside of the headquarters building. The commotion, however, seemed to be of no bother, considering it was a frequent occurrence. “I was fortunate enough to have studied medicine since I turned eighteen,” he continued. “And I graduated first in my class with distinction. I’m highly qualified, sir.” A pause. “The Communist Party killed my parents and wants my country. Sir, I’m willing to fight, and I’m ready to make our country and my parents proud, even if that means sacrificing myself.”
When the soldiers from the Communist Party invaded Xiao Fang’s hometown thirteen months ago and raided the homes of the Nationalist supporters, both of his parents were killed in the shuffle for siding alongside the opposition. The soldiers shot his mother and father like they were mere animals being led to the slaughterhouse, and since then, he grew a form of hate in his heart. The type of hatred he feared might never go away. And though he had never held hate; as hate could make a strong man crumble because it was too much of a burden to hold on to… His mother’s teachings. This time, the young doctor felt hate was necessary.
Commander Li Tang was considerate enough to listen as Xiao Fang detailed the horrors he had witnessed and the pain that came along with it. And though it was unfortunate that the young doctor’s words were spoken with bitter pain, the type that burns from within and never mends, Commander Li Tang nodded his head in understanding.
In the end, Commander Li Tang permitted Xiao Fang to enter the war under batch number seven fifty-two, as a field’s medic, to aid his injured comrades in the civil war. Although being a field’s medic wasn’t what he had in mind when he enlisted, he understood the commander’s decision, considering he studied medicine and was a skilled doctor. Such talent, as the commander said, should not go to waste. Xiao Fang agreed wholeheartedly.
Xiao Fang stepped outside the headquarters building. The sidewalk trembled beneath his feet as the second military chopper flew overhead within the passing minutes, stopping him in his tracks as he glanced up in the skies. When the helicopter went away, disappearing past the bomb-riddled buildings, he turned his face toward the afternoon sun and sighed.
Without looking back, he walked near several parked military vans, awaiting newly enlisted soldiers.
The vans up front were already half-loaded with smelly and mean-looking men, so he opted for the last one down the line. As the young doctor took small steps, the reflection of his shadow fell behind him. At that moment, he knew the life he once lived was no more. Bloodshed, death, and chaos were ahead. Nevertheless, he believed that through all the evil awaiting him, good shall prevail.