Walter the Warmonger is a Short Story written by Lisa Fingleton and recorded for Culture File, RTE Lyric Fm.

The Background to the Story

The artist is horrified by the wars around the world and the profiteering from war through arms sales. She cannot understand warmongers who inflict such relentless violence and aggression on innocent victims with no apparent remorse or hesitation.

She finds herself asking questions.

Is there any way to reach warmongers and those entrenched in battle, to change the trajectory from war to peace?

Is radical transformation to a more peaceful existence on earth really possible for people?

What could she do as an artist and writer to help?

This character Walter came to her and she was not impressed. He is a mean and miserable man intent of profiteering from war. But worse, he is infiltrating minds and hearts around the world brainwashing people into believing that war is somehow ‘normal’. He is ensuring that children from a young age are playing war games which become more and more violent as they age.

She asks if it is possible to overcome the Walter within us all to create a peaceful world?

How do we demilitarise ourselves?

How do we keep our hearts and arms open to those fleeing war and seeking refuge?

After writing the story Lisa looked up the meanings of Walter and warmonger:


It derives from the Old High German Walthari, which is composed of the root words walt—”power”—and hari—”warrior.” Together, these create Walter’s meaning, “commander of the army.”


A person who encourages or advocates aggression towards other countries or groups

Walter The Warmonger_Ink on Paper_210mmx297mm_c_Lisa Fingleton_2023

Walter the Warmonger

Once upon a time there was a mean and miserable man named Walter. He lived in a huge, boring white mansion on a hill behind ginormous steel gates.

He had two cross dogs named Max and Shirley. They weren’t born as cross dogs but they were very unhappy in this non-home and really wanted to escape.

Anyway Walter was mean. He spent all his time counting money and trying to figure out new ways to make profit. He sold guns, tanks and all sorts of war weapons.

He loved working on weapons that hadn’t even been developed yet. He loved thinking of new ways to kill people so that he could add more money to his bank accounts.

Walter was very aware that to keep building his empire, he had to convince children from an early age that war was normal. He spent a lot of time figuring out how to get children used to war.

He had to make sure that they would grow into adults who accepted that war was a natural part of life. He knew he had to be clever with this and not make it too obvious.

Walter The Warmonger © Lisa Fingleton, Dec 2023 1

Thankfully two years old were already using smart phones. They were playing simple games with a cat and mouse who were always trying to kill each other.

Obviously he had to be careful as most children were still living in homes where gross things like love and kindness were still being forced on them by parents. Love and kindness were not things that Walter could make any money from so he had to find ways to undermine them.

Walter was mean but also clever and it can be dangerous when mean and clever people have power too. Walter loved working with young designers who were clever and mean too. They were able to invent games that could make other young people do nasty things too.

What he loved most was that children didn’t even know this was happening. They thought they were just playing games and that it was all just for fun.

Once the children got to five years or so, they started to play a building game. The company who designed the game, sold it to parents as educational and a modern version of a building block game they played as children.

Parents gradually got used to leaving their children on tablets. It was a win-win. The children seemed happy and the parents got time to catch up on jobs like making dinner, washing clothes, cleaning, making lunches, travelling to school or work and all the other jobs associated with life.

The children didn’t think about the fact that these worlds were full of buildings, human avatars and pets with little thought for wild creatures. They could instantly destroy buildings with bombs and dynamite sticks and protect their new world with toy guns.

But Walter and his teams has a clear vision where all this was going. By ten years old, the children were virtually connected with their friends after school and could shoot and kill others freely after homework.

They could work in teams to ward of invading zombies and terrify themselves before bed time.Then as teenagers the visuals on screen became more violent. Young people spent more and more time in their rooms playing war games and drifting in and out of real and virtual worlds. Boundaries between worlds were blurring all the time.

Walter was simply delighted with the way it was all working out. All the money he made from war games was going into his business that make real weapons. By the time the teenagers were playing with Rambo-like army rangers, Walter was ready to sell real arms.

Unfortunately for Walter there were still too many countries who didn’t allow children to carry real weapons but he was working on that. According to Walter, children needed to be able to protect themselves from zombies in the real world.

Walter was so rich that he has a lot of connections with other rich and famous people including presidents and politicians. He liked to see the world as a huge real life game and played on lots of big screens on his walls and desk.

That way people had to keep starting over again and had to keep buying new stuff. All his friends then made money too.

He and his friends often decided to start wars. They liked selling guns and weapons to one group and encouraging them to do something bold until the other side felt the need to fight back.

Walter and his friends then sold weapons to both sides. They were always ready with a huge supply of guns, tanks, missiles and aircraft.

Walter’s friend Eddie bought a lot of media stations in different countries. Sometimes they spent hours talking about the best images and messages they could use to create the most fear around the world.

Fear sells. The more war, the better for business.

Individuals, groups and countries felt the need to buy arms to protect themselves and that was good for business. Of course war also released loads of carbon into the atmosphere which caused more climate chaos. Again this was a win-win for Walter and all his friends.

They sold advertising for insurance and security systems and they saw their sales literally rocket over the years!

There was no profit in peace! Walter knew he had to keep wars going all over the planet so he could keep making billions. He ate, slept and breathed war.

But today he wakes to hear the dogs barking. Shirley and Max never bark as there is never anything to bark about. Nothing ever disturbs the quiet and he rubs his eyes feeling very confused. The mansion is on a high hill and is made from reinforced glass and steel. They built a facade on the front to make it look like a real house but essentially it is a future proofed bunker.

“The dogs must be barking very loud if I can actually hear them”, he thought. “What is going on?”
His phone rings by the bed. It is the security guard at the gate.
He sounds very nervous and can hardly speak.

“Ammm Sir very, very sorry to disturb you but there is a woman here at the gate. She mmmm says mmmm she is your daughter’”.

Walter The Warmonger © Lisa Fingleton, Dec 2023 3

Walter drops the phone to the floor. This can’t be possible. He had completely forgotten that he had a daughter. She left with her mother when she was five. He never allowed himself to think of either of them since. He reaches to take his phone from the floor.

“Ridiculous tell them to go away. I don’t have a daughter”. He hears the guard relay the message. He hears her voice. “Tell my father that my mother was killed in the war.
We lost our home, our school, our hospital”.

The security guard repeats what she said.

Walter says nothing. Instead he jumps out of bed to look at the security gate monitor on his desk. And there is her face. Hazel brown eyes, dark skin and she looks just like her mother. Walter can hardly breathe.

“Sir” the security guard asks again “Sir what do you want me to do?”.

“Tell her to leave my property”.

His daughter speaks loudly so that he can hear.

“Tell him that his grandchild Raisa walked three days to the border and that we have travelled for seven weeks to get to this gate.

We are hungry”

Walter thinks he going to throw up. He zooms out the screen and there is a small girl, just a little younger than his own daughter when she left. Maybe three or four?

“We are very tired and we have nowhere else to go”.

Though she is trying hard not to cry, Walter can see tears starting to roll down her face. Walter can’t stop the flash backs. He sees his wife standing at the door of this very room. She has his daughter by the hand and the tears are flowing down her face.

She says, “We cannot live like this. We are leaving”

Walter remembers trying to ignore them. He was in a meeting with the designer for the new season’s war game for 12 year olds. It was set in the Amazon rain forest. It was all about an indigenous tribe trying to defend their home using new technology against the illegal loggers. He loved the idea and didn’t have time for more domestic disputes at that moment.

At that time his wife and child were living in the far side of the mansion anyway, so them leaving was no big loss. He turned to them and said, “Don’t ever come back”.

Walter The Warmonger © Lisa Fingleton, Dec 2023 4

He did look briefly to see them walking down the corridor but he never thought about them since.

That was over 20 years ago. Today he feels irritated and cross by this disruption years later.

He snaps at the security guard.
“Tell them to leave my property and to never come back”.

With that he throws the phone across the room and turns off the gate security screen on his desk.

He makes himself a coffee from the machine on his desk and opens a spreadsheet to review profits across his different companies. He sits back in his chair, trying to feel the usual satisfaction he experiences when business is booming.

“Dammit”, he can’t concentrate

He turns back on the screen, just to check that they are gone. No there they are still standing at the gate. He zooms in on his daughter’s face. Zena, yes that is her name. He remembers the day she was born and the first time he held her, smiling and so relieved that the long labour was over.

He was crying for the one and only time in his life. Happy tears his wife said as she wiped them away gently. Now he can see the pain in her face as she looks down on her own child. He is glad that she is hurting. He is enjoying the feeling of power and is glad to feel in control again.

But then her face shows something like relief and she reaches out towards the gate. He zooms out and there is the security guard, handing her two cups. And are they sandwiches and cakes on a tray?

A rage rises inside him. He runs for the door, tapping each door in succession with his security tab. He charges down the stairs and in a fury unlocks the four bolts on the enormous front door.

The fresh air nearly knocks him over.

How many years has it been since he left the confines of his mansion? He has everything he needs, a pool, gym and virtual golf course. He has never needed to leave.

Yet here he is standing outside the front door and feeling drops of rain falling from the dark clouds. He hesitates slightly but the rage propels him towards the gate.

Within seconds the dogs, Max and Shirley run towards him and pin him to the ground. Walter screams. “Get off me you idiots you are meant to be protecting ME”.

Walter The Warmonger © Lisa Fingleton, Dec 2023 5

But of course they have never met Walter. They snarl at him until the security guard whistles and they return to him. Walter, now covered in slobber, drags himself off the ground and continues toward the gate.

“What are you doing?”, he screams at the security guard.

“You are fired, fired, fired”.

Instead of looking afraid, the security guard shrugs his shoulders and looks relieved.

Walter screams at Zena, “Leave me alone. Stop eating my food”.

She and Rasia keep eating and he feels they are ignoring him. He can’t bear being ignored.

“Leave me alone, leave me alone.

I have worked hard all my life so that I could be left alone.

Just leave me in peace”.

“Peace?”, roared Zena back at him with the ferocity of a lioness.

“How dare you use that word”.

Walter is taken aback. No one has screamed at him since his wife left all those years ago.

“Peace” she continues.

“You have caused all this pain, all this war. I have watched with shame for years, while your awful companies have ruined lives all over the world. Raisa lost her grandmother, your wife, in the war”.

Raisa starts to sob.

Zena lifts her up and holds her close. The rain is falling heavier now and they are all getting soaked. Walter is afraid that he might catch a cold.

Zena speaks more quietly this time.

“Stop bullying people and let us in. Raisa is exhausted and she needs to sleep. Let us in.”

Shirley and Max are staring up at him. The security guard stares at the ground, not knowing where to look. All their clothes are wet and Raisa is holding her hand to Zena’s face.

“Go home mommy. Let’s go home”
Walter The Warmonger © Lisa Fingleton, Dec 2023 6

“One night”, Walter finds himself saying out loud.

“You can stay one night”.

Still scowling, he beckons to the security guard to open the gate. Zena picks up their small bag. She walks through the gate with Raisa in her arms. Shirley and Max follow them towards to house.

Walter is worried. Worried, that the world he so carefully constructed, to ensure his own peace and quiet, might start to unravel.