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Posts from the ‘Fiction’ Category

The Kherwar

by Brett Allen

Nasir ran his finger lightly over the map at his knees.  He was stalling now. Thick dust on the abandoned school house floor made the map seem ancient and it frayed at its folds, like the dogeared corners of his uncle’s Koran.  He rubbed his swollen cheek as he thought of his uncle. Read more

All Up Round

by Jeff Shearer

Thirty-six of us stood at attention under a July sun that felt like the heat lamp at the Stop&Go. Some of us already were starting to look like the shriveled Polish sausages that you find there on a midnight munchie run. Private Boyle was one of us. He’s from Palmer, like me. In fact, exactly a dozen of us were from Palmer. We’d had the same recruiter.  We even all had the same “Today’s Army Wants to Join You” poster stuck up on our bedroom walls back home. The one with the picture of a bunch of guys playing scratch football on the beach. At the bottom it read “Talk it over with the guys. The gang that enlists together, stays together.”  So that’s just what we did–right after graduation. There was only a handful of kids from Palmer headed to college, and most of them were girls. And none of us were ready to go work next to our dads and uncles at the Kaiser mill. We were hungry for some worldly education. So one Monday morning we all showed up at the recruiting station, signed the forms, and then went and got drunk down by the river. Except for Jimmy Boyle. He sat and watched.

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The Braided Brothers

by Hunter Howe

The first drink of coffee is always the scariest. People never know what to expect. They hesitate for a while, then close their eyes and take a sip. The cup is filled to the brim with mystery until it touches their lips.

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Stolen Dreams

by Ryan J. Barry

My trembling fingers grabbed hair and skin and held on tightly as glass rained down on my neck and shoulders. I prayed that the dirty linoleum floor would open and swallow me to provide shelter from the shards. When I looked up, smoke and dust filled the room. The last partygoers ran out through the only door, about twenty yards away. A woman knocked over a candle as she ran out, and an inferno ignited instantly. Panic consumed me. Everything I could see was melting.

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The Spider

by Jim Barrett

I had an opportunity today. I sat in my chair—trying to work out a plot problem when I pushed away from my howling computer (yeah—it howls, even snarls, when I can’t figure shit out) and leaned back in my chair. I looked skyward, really, ceilingward (if that’s a word) at the light above my head. It was then that I noticed a life and death struggle. There was a spider caught in the bowl of the light. I saw it clearly—a black eight-legged outline against the forty watt bulb that illuminated it. I was transfixed.

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Cycle of Violence

by Seabass

June 2004

Husaybah, al-Anbar Province, Iraq

Four of my Marine Force Recon teammates lay spread-eagle in deep sleep on the dusty concrete floor beside me.  As they recovered from physical and emotional exhaustion, Brian and I stood watch, scanning the city from the blasted-out windows of the building’s top floor.  Before dawn, our team had clandestinely occupied the abandoned Saddam-era Iraqi government office, known to us as the “Crack House.”  Miraculously, we had remained unseen from the vigilant civilians and combatants by low-crawling in through a weed- and shit-filled ditch which ran next to our new hide site.  Like hunters eager to kill a trophy buck, we searched the alleyways below with high-powered optics, hoping to catch our prey off-guard as the sun rose.

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Acting at War

by Travis Klempan

Red Merrill chewed the gum not on account of its breath-freshening capabilities, nor because he had food stuck in his teeth. (Protein shakes left behind a filmy grit but he washed this away with overchlorinated Iraqi water.) He chewed with no intention of blowing bubbles—it weren’t that kind of gum either—but just because it gave him something to do, and he’d grown sick of dipping tobacco.

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The New Ship

by Garland Davis

He could see the cruiser in the mists at the end of the pier as he walked toward it, his seabag rocking lightly on his shoulder. Funny he always thought it was heavier than this. Although the pier was in golden sunlight, the ship was blurred, the gray almost silvery in the cloudy mist.

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Twenty-two a Day

by Kama O’Connor

1. He’s been lying on top of his cheap, cotton comforter, staring at the walls that still have nothing on them—what would he hang that won’t remind him of the life he’d given up?—for three hours now. The clock reads 12:01 a.m. He had to stay late at the office to make up for the mistake he’d made on the quarterlies. What a joke, he thinks. None of this matters—the reports that told companies where their fractions of a cent were going, and when those fractions were dropped because of a loss in an arbitrary market half a world away. His fucking twenty-two year-old supervisor, just out of college, who kept coming by his small-assed cubicle, whining about shit he’d messed up…. Sometimes three times a day he had to listen to this desk jockey spout off about the importance of these reports and not shove his fist down the kid’s throat and tell him what really mattered in this world. It wasn’t a fucking report, that was for goddamn sure. So he gets up, walks to his closet, takes down the box he doesn’t let himself open often. His old life, the life he was proud of. Would always be proud of. He brushes the dust off the box with the heel of his palm, unlocks it, opens the lid, and stares. Each piece pokes at the pale, soft man he’s become since he took this job a year ago. His retirement certificate. Twenty years of drills and deployments and killing and not dying and broken relationships and training training training with only half a pension and a piece of paper to show for it. Still, he takes it out gingerly, places it beside him, and uncovers more relics. His service medals. A NAM with a combat “V.” A good cookie—ha! He should show this to his supervisor. Afghan service, Iraq service, OIF, OEF, Desert Storm. All conflicts, wars that showed him what the world really looked like. Ugly. Painful. Unfair. Underneath the medals is his grandfather’s old service revolver. He decides to play a game. Roulette, with only one player. The thrill it gives him sends shocks of an old—almost forgotten—feeling through his veins, charges him in a way he hasn’t felt in almost two years. He smiles, digs for the case of ammunition. Retrieves one bullet. A .22 caliber slug that he places in the chamber. Spins it, locks it in place. Holds the gun to his forehead and closes his eyes, excited that this is a game he can play and win, even if he loses. Because it reminds him what matters. This feeling. This. He starts the game.

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by Elizabeth Hawes Unangst

“Forget it,” the big man said, chuckling. “Out of the question. Far too dangerous for my clumsy little wife. You’re not exactly athletically inclined, you know, babe.” He gestured beyond the villa’s veranda to the lush green terraces sweeping down to the ocean below. “Besides, silly girl, why would you want to leave this gorgeous view?” Without waiting for an answer, he laughed, kissed her on the nose, slapped her on the bottom, shouldered his clubs, and left, calling, “Wish me luck on the links, babe!” as he went.

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