Thank You for Your Service

by Steven Lord

 

The crosshairs rest just above the target’s spine.

Cold zero.

That’s what we call these shots. No chance to learn the pull of the rifling, or the lie of the scope.

The flag flutters slightly in the wind. I adjust my aim half a degree left.

I’ve scored seven kills this way in Afghan. A lifetime of war, Medal of Honor to show for it.

I exhale halfway out, gently squeeze the trigger.

You thanked me for my service, then sent me out again. And again. No more.

I turn and walk away as the crowd’s cheers turn to screams.

 

Steven Lord

Steven Lord is a fantasy and sci-fi author from the UK. After spending 16 years travelling the world, he has settled down a bit, taking advantage of the change of pace to follow a long-held ambition to write fiction. His influences include Neal Stephenson, Stephen King and Iain M Banks.

Dani West

orn and raised in Saint John, NB. Dani West has popped up in countless anthologies from short stories to poetry.

The Gate to the Underworld by E.L. Giles – Launches 10th September 2021

Anything can inspire me. Movies, series, or a well composed soundtrack. Music in general. It can even be a single word I like, or a sentence. Sometimes it’s a sensation I want to recreate and build a story around. It’s rarely the same.

Dual

by Pauline Yates

 

Why’d you bring me home, Jimmy? Couldn’t hack a third tour of duty? The war ain’t over. You and me, we make the best team. But you’re a coward, ain’t ya, Jimmy? Shit, if it wasn’t for me, you’d be rotting in a body bag.

Is this how you repay me? Drag me into fucking therapy, get drugs to stop our nightmares? I don’t want them to stop. They keep us wired and fired, Jimmy. Wired and fired. Get that into your chicken head.

The war ain’t over, Jimmy. It will never be over. Not while I’m in your head.

 

Pauline Yates

Queensland writer, Pauline Yates, loves exploring the dark side of humanity through her stories. She has published works with Metaphorosis, Aurealis, Redwood Press, plus others, and is the winner of the 2020 AHWA short story competition. Links: paulineyates.com.

Battle of the Bands

by N.E. Rule

 

On her patio, Linda’s jaw clenches in determination as she starts her classical music. Exactly one minute later, punk rock blasts back at her from her enemy’s yard.

She storms onto his deck. His words strike first from his hot tub, “Dumb bitch, stealing my batteries is the best you got? Here’s a shocker, I got a cord.” He nods to the boombox plugged into an exterior outlet.

Linda smiles, “I hoped so. Here’s another shocker.” She tips the boombox into the water. His music stops dead. Wide eyes slip below the surface as Tchaikovsky’s 1812 Overture hits a crescendo.

 

N.E. Rule

N.E. Rule attended Toronto’s Ryerson University for both creative writing and business communications. Her writing portfolio includes software specs, marketing copy, and training materials, however, her passion is fiction. The characters in her head are getting louder and refuse to wait for her spare time to come out and play.

My Body

by Marion Lougheed

 

I float above the body that used to be mine, imagining I will break free if only I tug hard enough. Our corpses blanket the field, our blood already drying. Our enemy has slain us all.

“Help me!” I call, but I am voiceless. The survivors straggle up the hill. A chill replaces the heat of battle.

An enemy soldier passes close enough for me to touch with my ghostly fingers. He shivers and a spasm shoots through him. He falls. My ethereal grip sinks into his warmth, then I am pushing his essence aside.

This body is mine now.

 

Marion Lougheed

Marion Lougheed is a writer, editor, and cultural anthropologist whose words have been published in print and online by Gypsum Sound Tales, The League of Canadian Poets, and The Capra Review, among others.  She grew up in four countries and currently lives in Canada. Twitter: @MarionLougheed

 

Private Edad

by John Lane

 

Before the commencement of Operation Overlord, the newest soldier of First Infantry Division composed a letter, an effort to reassure his mother. She feared losing him to a bullet like her father during “The Great War”.

In writing, Private Joseph Edad promised to see her again.

Then, on D-Day, as he marched up Omaha Beach, several rounds of ammo from a German’s MG-42 drilled into his neck. The soldier was the first to fall.

For his last seconds of life, he never thought about his fellow soldiers silencing the German gunners.

He only hoped he didn’t make his mother angry.

 

John Lane

John Lane’s fiction has appeared in Black Hare Press, Ghost Orchid Press, Black Ink Fiction, Dark Dossier Magazine, Six Sentences, The Disappointed Housewife and other venues. In 2020, John’s story, “Dimension Traveler,” tied for Rejected Manuscripts’ third most voted entry out of 130 stories. 

Army and National Guard veteran.

 

Nancy Pica Renken

Nancy Pica Renken is an emerging writer in Boulder, Colorado, who enjoys reading, ‘riting, and running.

Abraham and Isaac

by James Rumpel

 

Daddy, can I have a gun?” asked little Isaac. “I can shoot the monsters just as well as Jimmy.”

“I’m sure you could, son. But you have a much more important job to do. The government says this is the best way to defeat the invaders. We have to slow them down. Otherwise, they are too fast and we wouldn’t have time to get our shots off.”

“Okay, but I want a gun next time.”

Abraham smiled, though he felt no joy. “Sure, you can have a gun next time. Now, go sit on the rock and close your eyes.”

 

James Rumpel

James Rumpel is a retired math teacher who enjoys spending some of his free time trying to turn some of the odd ideas in brain into stories. 

 

Phoenix Fighters

by Dawn DeBraal

 

Thousands of them, dead. Commander Helmet observed ravaged bodies as far as his eyes could see. Total devastation. His exhausted men sat, welcoming the reprieve while fresh recruits took up the grave detail. The men dug trenches, throwing dead bodies into them, while great fires rose, hot enough to burn the corpses.

A scream in the night. Helmet mounted his steed, riding out onto the battlefield. Even though his men had annihilated the enemy, the dead were coming back to life.

Soldiers screamed, running off. Mesmerised, Helmet watched the jerky movements of the newly risen, willing to do battle again.

 

Dawn DeBraal

Dawn DeBraal lives in rural Wisconsin with her husband Red, two little dogs, and a cat. She has discovered that her love of telling a good story can be written.  She has published over 200 stories in many online magazines and anthologies. Falling Star Magazine’s 2019 Pushcart Nominee.