This Is War
The flashes from the muzzles of the artillery very briefly lit the area, serving to let the enemy know that another salvo had been fired. Smaller flares from machine gun nests shot over the distance as the tracer bullets lit the darkened sky. The otherwise brilliant moon couldn’t penetrate the haze of clouds and smoke.
Several men used various objects as cover for their advance, trying to join up with the rest of their platoon and engage the enemy head on. With all the jamming from both sides, satellites and even homing beacons were useless, and no one wanted to send up a signal flare to mark their position. It would probably invite certain death.
Armored boots crunched over the soil and grass and bits of concrete as one soldier came to hide behind what was once a pillar. His elbow pads clicked faintly against the concrete and he slid down to one of his armored knees to peer around the remains. Other men rushed past him, the rustling of their fabric audible to him as they passed. Everything seemed so much louder when they were trying to be quiet. He waited a few seconds, scanning behind him with his helmet – one of the few pieces of tech that hadn’t been jammed in this war – and then moved forwards again, continuing the leapfrog.
They had gained almost one hundred meters of ground when bullets hissed past them. “Close,” the man muttered but continued onwards. They didn’t return fire, for all they knew, the enemy was simply firing at random for targets of opportunity, or to scare them into thinking they were discovered.
But when a bullet snapped right beside him into the former building foundation, he knew that they knew. Crouching again, he looked over at a few of the men he was with who were hiding some meters away under their own piece of rubble. They cocked the hammers on their rifles and readied themselves.
He took a deep breath to calm the shakes that were starting, and as his team swung their rifles overtop of the rubble, he followed suite and they opened fire as one entity. It was blinding and deafening, he could barely tell if his rifle was firing or not amidst the noise. Out of the corner of his eye, he saw a man go down from a shot to the throat – one of the few body parts unprotected – and then somebody yelled “Grenade!”
The explosion outdid the noise and muzzle-flares from the rifles tossing them all. He felt pain all over, and noticed that some of his body was warm while other parts were cold. He felt fragments of metal shift in his body as he sat up. His rifle was nowhere to be seen and his helmet was missing as well. The situation was getting bad, bleeding from wounds all over, few options and fewer weapons.
Boots crunched soil, grass and bits of concrete as many pairs approached the area where he sat. The lit visors that surrounded him weren’t blue like the one he once had, but red. His enemies. They could see him as he pulled a grenade from his vest and hold it out and he could feel the rifles aimed at him as they all waited for what he would do. “This is war,” he said and pulled the pin.
As the grenade dropped to the ground, the soldiers pulled their triggers. It was a nanosecond race between the bullets and the grenade to see which would kill the man first. But with all the light and noise, he couldn’t really tell.
Or even care.
It was war.
NAGASAKA KIYOSHI enjoys writing science-fiction and fantasy, or anything with action in it, and can usually form half a plot based on a
single line of dialog or a simple action. He currently resides in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada, living the lonely long-distance relationship life, while honoring his Japanese heritage.
" I simply wanted to write something short dark, and from the average soldier's point of view. Most definitely I was influenced by the trailer for Letters from Iwo Jima. Just like that."
Contact info: firstname.lastname@example.org.