Monday, December 26, 2016

Pugnata Est

     Standing in the middle of the kitchen with a steaming cup of espresso, Jougs asked, “how much longer do you think he needs?”
     Vorant laughed. Then, laughed harder when he realized Jougs was serious.
     “Why ya laughin’?” Jougs asked.
     Without answering, Vorant crossed the kitchen to the espresso maker, took a cup out of the cupboard, and set it in the cradle. He’d managed to calm himself down a bit, but still wasn’t quite prepared to answer. After adjusting the dials and pressing the start button, Vorant turned to face Jougs. He shook his head, smiled lightly, and put a finger to his lips. Taking the cue, Jougs closed the distance between them and leaned his right ear toward Vorant, who promptly hissed, “the safe houses are rigged for sound. So, quit bitching.”

Monday, December 19, 2016

Lege Teneri

     The tears wouldn’t stop flowing. She’d ravaged her swollen eyes and raw nose with half a roll of toilet paper, but still, the damnable salt water and mucus trickled down her face. Her ass hurt from prolonged sitting, the ceramic toilet seat offered her no comfort. Her temples throbbed; each beat sent a shockwave through her nervous system. Holding onto the bathroom wall, to keep from falling off the toilet, she sunk into the cold tiles. The position was awkward, but the cool tiles soothed her burning skin. When the urge to vomit finally passed, Tokus Cassius, Mercury’s Messenger, climbed off the toilet. She slowly navigated the bathroom to the sink, where she turned the cold water tap on and began a two handed shoveling maneuver, slapping her face with the ice water. She gave no thought to the water that jumped over her shoulders to land on her back. Right when she was starting to feel like a functional human being, her stomach flipped. She lunged back to the toilet, where she barely made it before—Oh, sweet mother of Mercury! That’s disgusting!—hugging the porcelain goddess. In her painful state, she did not hear the thrice knock of the Mercury’s Elite Guard.

Monday, December 12, 2016

Scholam Frequentare

     Standing in the Observation Tower listening to Major Derrick Peters’ monotone lecture on the importance of proper documentation was enough to make Tech Sergeant Rydel question his will to live, but more importantly his loyalties. Since Major Peters’ father happened to be the General of the Southern Battalion—renown master of the fine arts of diplomacy and deception—it had seemed like a good idea to ingratiate himself. But, every good idea comes with at least one moment of doubt, and in the weeks since the prisoner’s disappearance Rydel had found the doubtful moments were adding up at an abnormal rate. Whatever feud existed between the major and the commander had only been exasperated by the pothole’s disappearance, the recovery drone’s bird strike, and the commander’s psych-eval (meant to be a private affair, which naturally meant that the entirety of Camp Polkner knew). Rydel stared out the western window at the snow-capped, rolling blue and purple Iphigenia Mountain Range. Somewhere in those hills was the escaped prisoner. For the umpteenth time since the disappearance, Rydel longed to be anywhere but Camp Polkner. The hair on the back of his neck came to attention seconds before a private barged into the room bellowing, “ATTENTION ON DECK!” Without thinking, Rydel and the rest of the soldiers popped to and swung toward the door where Commander Randle Dante, Sr. entered.

Monday, December 5, 2016

In Somnis

     Former Private Willy Jessup sat on the edge of his bed, naked save his dog tags, his heart racing and his eyes darting around his mother’s living room. He’d always been paranoid, that was nothing new. But, this. He grabbed his pants from the floor, slid them on, and buttoned up while looking for his shoes. He’d never understand where shoes walked off to when he deliberately sat them down out of the way. He retrieved his shirt via his left shoe and his socks via his right. Then fell into his grandpa’s recliner, where he groggily shoved one foot after another into his socks and shoes. Half-awake and half-dressed, he stumbled over to the coffee table where he’d fallen out with a mostly full beer and a half-smoked joint. He shoved the joint tip into his mouth as he clumsily patted around on the coffee table until he found the lighter. Once he was smoking, he picked up the beer and raised it in salute to a mantel filled with pictures featuring his uniformed forefathers. After swallowing warm, flat beer, Jessup took another hit, and then stood up in a fog. Somehow keeping his balance, he waited for the fog to pass, and then crossed the living room to the mantel where generations of uniformed Jessups stared at him. He frowned, the proud, brave Jessups never had a military fuck up before me. What’s my legacy? With the joint between his lips and his beer in one hand, he managed to get his dog tags off and hung them from his own military picture. He stared at his reflection, ran a hand through his slightly grown out hair, pulled deeply on the joint, and then laughed, “aw, fuck it. An oath’s an oath. Ain’t it, Commander?”