Tag Archives: war

Killing Oliver Twist

I cannot forget the first man I killed. That instant is trapped in my memory, as if in jagged-edged crystal.

I was eighteen and manning a machine gun. He emerged from the morning mist, searching the ground for something.

I fired.

Life over.

I killed countless soldiers later, but I only remember him. He was British, so I named him Oliver Twist.

I kept wondering what he was looking for.

After the war, I went to London. I stopped a woman and said, in halting English, “I am sorry for Oliver Twist.”

She stared at me, but I felt absolved.

 


Outside the Window

Well, for the first time in quite a while, I’m actually posting this on Wednesday. Despite this being exam week, I’m actually not as busy as I have been in the past few months.

FF158 Rochelle Wisoff-Fields

copyright Rochelle Wisoff-Fields

 

A bomb exploded. Amna saw the orange death-flower blossom a mile away.

She ran water for dishes—

A helicopter thundered overhead.

rinsed a plate—

An angry line streaked from the ground.

washed the cutlery.

The helicopter exploded.

She refused to hide. This had been her home for her whole life.

Somewhere nearby, she heard the rattle of rifle fire.

They won’t change me, she thought savagely. They won’t win!

Her favorite cup, which she had been gripping unconsciously, shattered. She stared down at the blood dripping into the dishwater and realized, suddenly, that nothing would ever be the same again.

 


The Submariner’s Dream

Let me tell you the account of trying to bring light to a Friday Fictioneers story this week. I had an idea I liked and wrote the story this evening. It came out to 119 words and I couldn’t reduce it without sacrificing vital parts of the story. So I wrote another one, which I liked even better. That one came out at 128 words and again, I didn’t want to sacrifice any of it. So I wrote a third story, which luckily came out to 100 words. That’s the one below, but if you want to read the other two, I’m going to post them on my blog tomorrow and Saturday. This week’s picture is thanks to Claire Fuller, the author of the award-winning novel, Our Endless Numbered Days.

copyright Claire Fuller

copyright Claire Fuller

The Submariner’s Dream

I dream the alarms sounded. I ran to battle stations, shoving past fear-sweating men in claustrophobic hallways.

I dream they waited for me at the missile room door. I had the keys. Buttons were pushed, codes entered, access granted: all perfect protocol.

I dream the Beatles’ “Yellow Submarine” lilted around us as we shot our world-ending payload out into the frosty Arctic night, leaving us empty, spent.

I awake, feeling hollow. I go to the bridge.

“Any contact yet?”

The captain shakes his head, despair in his eyes.

I take two more pills and sleep.

I dream the alarms sounded . . .


The Kiss War

I was lying on the couch reading one afternoon when my wife walked by and blew me a kiss. On instinct, I dodged it. She looked affronted but kept walking. I went back to my book, but several minutes later, I looked up to see her standing over me. Quick as a bullet, she smooched twice and blew them at me. Double tap to the forehead. I didn’t have a chance.

 

lips

War has never been so schmaltzy.

 

I might have let it go at that, but the next morning I saw that she had written 2:0 on the whiteboard in the kitchen.

“Oh, that’s how you want to play, is it?” I asked.

“Bring it on, jerk,” she said. I made as if I was going back for the cereal but then turned and blew her a kiss as fast as I could. She caught it and threw it back at me.

“Hey, no kissbacks!” I said.

“Sorry, them’s the rules.” She smirked and changed the 2 to a 3.

I entered by the garage that day when I came home from work. I could hear her making dinner in the kitchen. I took off my coat and boots and then crept noiselessly into the kitchen and up behind her. She was chopping carrots at the counter.

“Kiss kiss kiss!” I shouted. “Three points for me.”

She screamed and spun around, throwing the knife at me. It shot past my ear and hit the fridge, clattering to the floor. “Don’t ever sneak up behind me! Are you crazy?”

I assured her I wasn’t. “At least I got three points.” I went and changed the tally on the whiteboard.

“Who cares? I almost killed you.” Then she relaxed. “Sorry, you just really scared me. Welcome home.” She gave me a kiss, then grinned. “One more point for me.”

“What? I kissed you back.”

“But I kissed you first, so I get the point.” She went and changed the tally to 4:3, then staunchly refused to let me kiss her until dinner was over.

“We need to make a rule,” I said when dinner was over. “Contact kisses don’t count. I don’t want to be keeping score all the time.”

“Fair enough,” she said. Then she dove behind the table and fired a kiss at my leg. I ran into the hall and for the next half hour we ran around the house like kids, firing kisses at each other. By the end of it, the score was 54:42 for her.

The next day at work was exhausting and I forgot about our little kiss war as I staggered through the door. “I’m home!” I shouted. The house was quiet. I was just wondering where she was when I saw a bunker of couch pillows built in the kitchen. There was a smacking sound and then another.

“Got you!” she shouted.

It was a bloodbath of affection. I was pinned down by the doorway, still in my boots and coat. I had to take them off before I could even get down behind the couch and take cover. I finally charged the kitchen but it cost me dearly and by the time I reached the bunker and we declared a truce, the score stood at 93:44.

I had to end things once and for all. I went down to my workroom that evening and with a box and a length of wire, I started to create my ultimate project. I brought it up as my wife was in the bathroom brushing her teeth and when she came out, I was standing there, box between us, button in my hand.

“What’s that?”

“It’s a kiss nuke,” I said. “15 million kisses at the push of a button.”

“But, but you’ll be kissing yourself too,” she protested.

“I’m willing to do that.”

“There’s no way this house can withstand 15 million kisses all at once. You’ll be kissing all the neighbors with this. I won’t have you kissing the neighbors!”

“Sorry,” I said. “This is the way it’s going to be. Now kiss this contest good-bye.”

She suddenly started laughing. She laughed and laughed until she fell on the floor. I went over and helped her up.

“Come here, you dork,” she said. She gave me a real kiss and a hug and we stood like that for a minute.

“So what now?” I asked.

She looked up at me. “I don’t know. Wanna have a hug o’ war?”


The Battle of New Semester

I’ve been busy lately with work so I wanted to write a post explaining why I haven’t been around as much as I would like to be this week. This is what came out of that. My wife says I’m being silly and, of course, she’s right.

(For those of you who don’t know, I teach ESL at a university.)

Destination: Inbox (Source)

Destination: Inbox (Source)

The Battle of New Semester

I knew it was coming for months before it hit. I watched it appear on the horizon like a tsunami viewed from the relative ease of a tropical island beach. Over the weeks and months I watched it get closer, with anticipation at best and at worse, resignation.

Then, on January 5, it hit.

The invasion of the new semester.

It started slow. The first wave was mostly Administrative Duties, buzzing in from above, peppering me with emails. “Re: re: re:!” went their machine guns. “FYI! FYI!” They were slow moving and I could pick them off easily enough, but as the week progressed, each progressive wave got thicker and closer together.

The 5th Division Placement Tests made an amphibious landing on Thursday and I was busy for two days putting down that threat, until finally everyone was in their place. Unfortunately, we weren’t without casualties. Our general went down with the flu and a few NCOs as well.

Of course, this was just the vanguard attack. The main invasion force came the next week and the battle settled down into the daily slog.

The Class artillery is not that bad. Every morning at 8:30, the shelling begins, with 30mm Grammar shells coming in from the right and Writing mortars whistling in from the left. You just have to endure and after a couple hours they slack off before a shorter American Culture attack in the afternoon.

Worse are the Lesson Plans. The sneaky blighters sneak up and sabotage your defenses and equipment, making you unprepared for the daily Class shelling. Sometimes I can pick them off with a few well-aimed shots but other times I spend hours hunting them down, the battles going on into the evenings and spilling over to the weekends.

It will get better though, after a few weeks. I’ll set up anti-aircraft batteries to knock down the Administrative Duties and dive-bombing emails as they appear. I’ll establish a wider perimeter to take care of lesson plans from a greater distance and the daily shelling of Classes will become routine. Things will settle down soon. Soon.

That’s teaching for you.


Approaching Storms – Friday Fictioneers

Copyright Kelly Sands

Copyright Kelly Sands

Approaching Storms

A storm was coming.

Rebecca stood, tied to a stake, on the uncannily silent beach, watching coal-black clouds gather and build. She had deserted. Tomorrow she would be shot.

Lightning blazed through the approaching tempest. In its fitful glow, a warship appeared, then many more. They were not friendly, Rebecca knew. The invasion had finally come.

Darkness thickened but still no alarm sounded. The sentries must be asleep.

She imagined herself raising the alarm, being pardoned—a hero. She pictured the invasion force rescuing her. The calculating wheels of  self-preservation spun. She opened her mouth to scream, but still hesitated.

 


The song of the old country

I’m lying in a hospital bed after having had knee surgery, writing this on my phone. That’s right: nothing stops me from doing Friday Fictioneers!

image

The Song of the Old Country

“At first it was a scuffle, and then a big kerfuffle. How we all did grieve when we had to leave.”

Grandpa’s songs always started like that. Then he would sing about the paradise of the old country before the war.

Grandpa’s light-hearted songs could not prepare me for the reality. Even as an adult and wearing a radiation suit, my eyes filled with tears as I looked out over the blighted wasteland.

I turned to go when a flash of green caught my eye. A clump of clover had burst from the poisonous ground. Grandpa’s old country was returning.


Homecoming – Friday Fictioneers

Copyright D Lovering

Copyright D Lovering

Homecoming

The whole town was there, standing in hushed anticipation for the return of Senor Najera’s son from the war.

“He was wounded,” someone whispered. “Hit by the enemy’s new weapon.”

The ship approached, the gangplank descended, and Mateo Najera appeared. The crowd gasped.

The rags of the once-proud army uniform were stretched over the misshapen, hulking figure that shambled off. One huge eye lolled at them, roaming witlessly.

Senora Najera tore from her husband’s restraint. “Stop!” he shouted. “What if he’s contagious?”

“He’s still my baby,” she said and ran to embrace him until her tears wet his festering skin.

 


All Wrung Out

This story deals with somewhat disturbing material. Just a heads up. It’s a story for Al Forbes’ Sunday Photo Fiction. A bit over the word limit, but please forgive me this time.

All Wrung Out

I feel wrung out, with a soul like an old dishrag, flapping in the burning wind. But you gotta keep on, so I flip a smile, crack a joke and pretend. We all do.

“We got a drill hole on 10th Avenue,” Marc calls. “A real slip-n-slide.”

“And here I forgot my bathing suit,” I say, climbing into the truck.

There are no survivors, of course. The laser beam drilled a perfect hole down through the 20-story building, gutting it and disintegrating everything in its path. Nobody calls us when there are survivors, only when there is “organic material” to clean up. I don’t mind the “organic material”; it’s picking up the body parts I can recognize that gets to me. Nobody said war was pretty.

“Do you ever wish one of those lasers would get us?” Marc asks that evening. “Just erase the memories and nightmares forever.”

“What, and leave this dream job?” I say, laughing and taking a swig of beer.

He looks at me with pain in his eyes, pleading silently for me to be serious, just once. But I can’t do it, because I feel so thin inside that if I stop smiling, I’ll shatter.

I’m just all wrung out.


Xerxes’ War (Part 1)

After the disastrous dinner with the Hendersons, Xerxes didn’t see them anymore. Even Obsequious Otter didn’t come by anymore, although Xerxes’ Prescient Pigeon said it saw the otter around sometimes. Penelope, Xerxes’ ex-girlfriend and current laundry room wall, didn’t mention if his trip to the Hendersons’ had affected her relationship with their dining room wall Bumble and he didn’t ask. He just wanted to be left alone.

One morning, Xerxes was eating cereal over the kitchen sink and staring blearily out into the eternal, empty grey, when a huge parrot landed on his windowsill.

“Awwk! Can I borrow a cup of sugar?” it asked.

“I don’t have any sugar,” Xerxes said automatically, wondering if he could kill a parrot with one punch.

“Liar! Liar!” the parrot shrieked. “You have at least four cups left.”

“But I’m going to make a cake today and I need it all.”

“Liar! Liar!” the bird yelled again. “You’ve never made a cake in your life.”

“Let me guess, you’re Polygraph Parrot,” Xerxes said. He had dealt with novelty pets enough to know how things worked.

“My owners call me Polygraph Polly,” it said. Xerxes ended up giving it some sugar, just to make it go away.

It wasn’t just Polly either. Over the next few weeks, other animals appeared at the house, sometimes just to say hello and sometimes to ask for things. There was Gregarious Goat, who always wanted to talk for hours; Haranguing Hamster, who squeaked up at him about the lack of hamster representation in politics; and then there was Malicious Marmoset. Xerxes found the marmoset chasing his ShyPhone 4 around his bedroom. It hissed at him, then stole the book he was reading off his table, tore the cover, and threw it in the toilet.

That night, Xerxes pulled out the house manual and figured out how to lock the doors and windows, something he’d never done before. After an hour, he got them all locked, ending with the kitchen window, which was how Prescient Pigeon usually came and went.

“You don’t have a ceiling,” Mr. Pettyevil, Xerxes’ kitchen wall, whispered.

“What?”

“You don’t have a ceiling,” Mr. Pettyevil repeated, and smirked as only a wall can. Xerxes looked up. Dang, he was right. He had forgotten there was no ceiling. It had cost extra and Xerxes had just assumed he wouldn’t need one in an empty dimension where his house was the only thing in the whole universe. Plus, he liked the idea of his walls appearing to go up and up into infinity.

The next day, Prescient Pigeon arrived with a gun, just as Xerxes decided that one might be necessary. He wasn’t sure what kind he wanted, so he was curious what kind the pigeon had brought.

“It shoots gummy worms,” Prescient Pigeon said proudly.

“What?”

“That’s not all,” the pigeon said quickly. “There’s a selector knob here. Let’s see . . . It also shoots gummy bears, gummy spiders, gummy amoeba, and gummy Ten Commandments. See?” The pigeon aimed the gun at the wall and fired with his foot. There was a bang and Mr. Pettyevil shouted in irritation. Xerxes picked up a tiny, gummy copy of the Ten Commandments. It was perfectly readable, or would have been if Xerxes could speak ancient Hebrew.

“Nice,” he said. “I wish I had a porch, so I could sit out there with this and shout, ‘Get off my lawn!’”

“You’d need a lawn too,” Prescient Pigeon said, “but I’m not carrying that here for you.”

That night, Xerxes woke up in darkness to hear something crawling down his wall. It must be that Malicious Marmoset! he thought. Slowly, he reached over and picked up his gummy gun. He flicked on the lights and there was the marmoset, dumping melted lemon sherbet into his sock drawer. Xerxes fired a burst of gummy amoebas at it and it dropped the bucket and darted to the far wall. Xerxes flicked the selector switch and strafed the fleeing marmoset with gummy worms. It screeched as it was hit and finally fled back up into darkness.

Minimalism

The next day, Xerxes coaxed his ShyPhone 4 out from under the bed and called Conrad, his real estate agent.

“Conrad, this is insane. When I moved here, you promised me total isolation. Now I’ve got marmosets dumping lemon sherbet into my sock drawer in the middle of the night.”

“Just wash them. The washing machine still works, right?” Conrad said.

“Well, it turns out the Cereal Python really loves sherbet,” Xerxes said. “He ate it all. Unfortunately, he ate all my socks too.” At that moment, Prescient Pigeon arrived, gasping and clutching a 12-pack of socks. Xerxes took them with a nod.

There was a knock at the door. “And now there’s a knock at my door!” Xerxes shouted over the phone. “In a dimension where I’m the only person, I should not have people knocking on my door.” He hung up and flung the door open.

There was no one there. Instead, there was a note taped to the door. It said:

How dare you attack our cutsey-wootsey marmoset! You, sir, are no gentleman. This means WAR!

For some reason, this cheered Xerxes up. No one had to be polite or make small talk during a war.

house

(to be continued)


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