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Posts from the ‘Fiction’ Category

In the Shadow of Two Mountains

by Martin Nelson

Somewhere in the shadow of two mountains, every Hunter lives. It is a strange place where the inhabitants are bold but most are weak. They want to be strong like us, smart like us, but mostly accepted and bound together, like us. They are more educated and sophisticated but seem to want the experience of everything except sacrifice; which is the difference between us.

The smartest hold their families close and quietly craft rich lives by gathering together the fruit of the land; indifferent to the malicious, who incessantly shout battle cries from their roof tops. The continuous call to arms startle those who have already fought countless battles on their behalf. Together, we three have created a safe, trendy, and bustling little society where the gatherers and protesters know nothing of the evil outside the city walls while the Hunters know nothing of the peace and freedom within.

As time passes, the gatherers have slowly gleaned the fields, leaving nothing behind. In the middle of the night, the sharp eyes of the malicious slowly open and from their perch they abruptly unleash a barrage of pointed words; protesting the inequity of society. The Hunters stir in their beds. Alone they are fighting sleep, fighting in their sleep, until finally they are fighting to sleep. There is no peace. Not even at midnight in their own land.

With a blanket tightly wrapped over sweaty shoulders, a Hunter ventures deeper into the valley. Under a star lit night, the two mountains loom. To the left, the mountains base is inviting and gradually goes vertical. In the Hunters youth, the rocky face was climbed for fun with other young Hunters. Now, the path is more difficult and the trail more treacherous. On these cold nights, the Hunter makes the journey alone, stumbling in the dark. The path has become over grown as the trips become fewer. Thickets that were trodden and beat back in the hunter’s youth, now get revenge by tearing at clothes and flesh as the Hunter passes. With each cut, a memory and each trickle of blood, a face remembered. Some of the thorns stick in the blanket and will provide torment for tomorrow. It’s bittersweet remembering lost hunters, but better to own the pain then to forget a friend. At the trails end, the hunter reaches out to touch the cliff. All the hunters started here, touched these rocks, committed to each other -here. Some went to the top, some climbed for a while and went home and a few fell. Some found trails over the mountains to adventures we will never know, but we all started here. We remain committed here.

Across the valley, the hunter can see the forbidden fires and palaces on the other mountain. It is a decadent land where the tribes thrive with much to eat and abundant comforts. The tribe is said to have left the Hunters own land generations ago, but the Hunter cannot be accepted as a Hunter there. Hunters are disarmed and only welcomed as slaves. As the moon rises, another fire is revealed at the far side of the valley. The Hunter makes his way down the mountain base, through the thickets and rocky paths until the sight of the fire is lost. Guided only by the beat of a drum the hunter creeps through the softening brush. Dew drops roll from tender leaves, slowly soaking the blanket and cloths, but soothing the many cuts and scars. The Hunter presses forward as the music gets louder and familiar voices can be heard.

As the Hunter boldly steps in to the fires warm glow, several of the figures rise. They begin dancing closer, each with a different erratic rhythm. Their faces and scars become visible and they all have blankets riddled with thorns wrapped around their shoulders. Their unique dance steps are products of their unique injuries. They look into each other’s eyes momentarily and know they are all the same. Silently, they return to the fire; the only comfort in the shadow of the two mountains.

Martin Nelson is a retired Coast Guard Aviation Survival Technician and their 251st helicopter rescue swimmer, with over 23 years of open water rescue, federal law enforcement and executive security missions.  He writes fiction and non-fiction pertaining to his military experience, as well as technical and grant-seeking documents. A recent cancer survivor and Texas A&M graduate, Martin now resides peacefully in Corpus Christi, Texas, with his wife Veronica and four children: David, Ian, Thomas and Sydney.

Miss Dial

by Ginger Roberts

The first time I became conscious of the entity named Aunt Nicole was on a cross-country trip that involved my mother, my son, Thomas and my dog, Waffle. We had all the time in the world to sample all the nuances of our trip but the destination was always on my mind. I did not want to go back to work after having a month of leave. I did not want to come back to the United States. I did not want to put the boots on and trudge through the muck or answer to anyone for anything. I wanted to enjoy the freedom a little while longer.

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by Timothy L. Jones

His muscles stretched tight, the bow arced, the knuckle of his thumb resting against his cheek. He blew the call again, a quiet grunt, and let it fall from his lips, dangle by the string around his neck. Burning crept from his spine toward his shoulders, up his neck. Jake’s arms began to tremble, but he held fast, concentrated on the beaten path that cut through the trees.

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Painting the Room Red

By Lea Baker

Louie was standing on the slick trunk of the fallen tree, gripping Doreen’s screen door for balance, when Brena opened the front door.

“No strangers.”

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The Orange Key

by Terry Brunt

“I think I’m going to shit myself,” Clinton sputtered as he tried to escape.

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The Ghost and the Steel Wheel Roller

by Luke Vermeulen

February, 2005

Mosul, Iraq

We have a steel wheel roller in our motor pool that’s haunted.

Usually it’s houses and stuff that you hear about getting haunted on TV but that dumb roller definitely has a ghost hanging around it. I’m looking at the thing right now and the ghost’s right there, standing in front of the big steel wheel staring at me. Probably standing right in the exact spot where it got crushed when the roller was being unloaded at the port. We have four identical rollers all parked in a row in the motor pool and I can totally tell which one is the haunted one from a mile away.

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How Cold? Icebreaker Cold

by Don Robishaw           

It was the dark of the evening and temperatures were below freezing. With an unlit Marlboro between his teeth, the able-bodied seaman turned, bent over, and cupped his hands to block out the wind and seawater.

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A Loadmaster’s Lament

by Fred Fredine

As we taxied for takeoff, I looked out the back of the C-119 cargo area and could see the Army sergeant running behind the plane trying to catch up. The afternoon jungle rain, which only an hour ago sent torrents of water cascading over the perforated steel plate that covered the runway, was now escaping through the holes as streams of vapor carrying the smell of rotting vegetation toward the sky, and leaving the PSP wet and slippery. Using the web straps attached to the side of the plane for handholds I struggled toward the ten-foot opening in the rear of the plane, where the clam shell doors used to be, and stepped over the rollers that we nailed to the floor.

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A Good Old American Breakfast

by Barbara Mujica

Jamali didn’t want to work with the Americans, but he needed the money. He had plenty of reasons to detest the foreigners. His sixteen-year-old cousin Zaid had been caught in the crossfire at an American checkpoint and lost an arm, and Jamali had lost his livelihood because now nobody bought the fine wooden cabinets he made. Americans had brought war to Iraq, and war had left the country in shambles. Jamali thought about it a long time before he accepted the offer from Lieutenant Montez.

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One Year

by Jesse Frewerd

This is just wonderful, absolutely wonderful, just hang on a little while longer, man. Can you believe they fucking extended us for another three months when we are already a year into this deployment? We were in Kuwait, for Christ’s sake; washing our trucks of the desert’s paint and just a couple days from going home. It’s the equivalent of being on the verge of climax only to find out it was just a dream, and you’re alone, on a shitty cot, in a room with ten other guys.… I would have just preferred the damn orders before we got to Kuwait. Extend us while we were still in Baghdad, not with every bag packed ready to go home.

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