Manuscripts Burn


"Manuscripts don't burn"
- Mikhail Bulgakov

Hi, I'm horror and science fiction author Steve Kozeniewski (pronounced: "causin' ooze key.") Welcome to my blog! You can also find me on Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads, and Amazon. You can e-mail me here, join my mailing list here, or request an e-autograph here. Free on this site you can listen to me recite one of my own short works, "The Thing Under the Bed."

Thursday, July 2, 2009

The Last War: Chapter 27

***Hey, kids, here's a Manuscripts Burn first. I was on the fence about how to post this chapter because it has 8 parts, but each is no longer than a few paragraphs. Normally I would post one part a day, but that seemed a bit ridiculous. In light of the 15,000 or so hits the blog has gotten in the past 3 days, I decided to post the whole chapter at once as a thank you to the lurkers out there. This may set a precedent for future choppy chapters, or it may not. The best way to find out is to keep the hits up.***

Beshu smiled broadly. He was very wily. He was wilier than Yuan Timur had been, although that could have really been said about anyone. He was the Mongolian equivalent of what the Americans called a Navy SEAL, called a Special Forces Commando. He was the leader of an elite covert operations force, and they were on a pretty damn covert operation.

None of them were wearing scuba gear, or any other kind of gear save for long knives. They were all extraordinary swimmers, and any given one of them could hold his breath for five minutes or more at a time.

They had been literally smuggled onto the American coast. They had been hiding in boxes on a neutral freighter. They all stealthily left the boat when it docked, and took to the water.


Captain Carl Leonard was deeply concerned. He was back aboard his destroyer, the Farragut. Things had been going well since he had been returned to active military service and taken out of the police force. Up until now.

The freighter from India had arrived just a short while ago. India was a neutral country, so that was nothing to worry about. But then the American frigate which had received the supplies the freighter had been carrying had cut off communication. Leonard had been watching the whole thing.

He hoped it was just an equipment malfunction.


The bodies of many of the crew had been strategically stuffed in lockers and out of sight so that nothing would seem amiss to someone passing by, except, of course, that the crew members that were not there.

The Mongolian Special Forces Commandos was slowly spreading out through the cruiser. Luckily, the frigate was already stocked with tons and tons of explosives and fuel. This was a once in a lifetime opportunity for Mongolia.

Beshu reached the bridge. His silenced pistol made short work of everyone on the bridge save the captain. He pulled out a knife and held it to the captain's neck, and placed his hand over his mouth.


"Try to raise that frigate on the radio again," said Carl Leonard.

Something odd was going on. Carl intended to find out what it was.


An American ship was trying to hail them. Beshu panicked and nearly slit the captain's throat. He realized if he played things very carefully, he might be able to pull this thing off.

He shoved the captain into the radio area. He released the man's mouth.

"Answer them," said Beshu in poor English, "Nothing is wrong. I'll kill you if you act stupid."

The captain nodded.


"I repeat, this is Captain Carl Leonard of the U.S.S. Farragut."

"Ah, hello Farragut. We're here."

The man on the other side of the line sounded like anything but sure of himself.

"Is everything all right over there?" asked Carl.

"Affirmative, affirmative, everything is fine."

"We've been trying to raise you for a while. Did you have an equipment malfunction?"

"Ah, yes, that's an affirmative. The radio was on the fritz. Just needed to repair it, that's all."

"Need a hand with anything?"

"Negative, negative. We're just fine. We're really under a tight schedule, captain, so if you don't mind..."

"Certainly. This is the Farragut, over and out."


The captain placed the radio back in it's holder.

"There. Happy?"

Beshu reached out and slashed the captain's throat. The man fell to the floor dead. He walked over to the intercom system.

He said in Mongolian, "We're clear. Let's begin to move toward the Indian Ocean."

He had managed to pull it off.


Something was definitely wrong.

"Something's definitely wrong," said Carl.

He saw the frigate beginning to move. He made a snap decision.

"Inform command that we may have found a ship that's been taken over by enemy forces. Tell them we're in pursuit," he said to his radio man. Then, to his helmsman, "Follow them. Try to stay a good distance behind them, though. We don't want to let them know that we're on to them."

The helmsman nodded and began to slowly follow the frigate.

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