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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."

Monday, July 6, 2009

The Last War: Chapter 29, Part 1

The Animal had been waiting for this day for a long time. Oh yes, today was the day. He’d been waiting for longer than he could remember. And now it had finally come. Today was the day he got breakfast.

He hadn’t realized the kind of crappy food they got at the front. One almost never got hot food, and cold food was a rare occasion. Mostly they got rations that made granite seem a delicacy.

But he’d called in favors. He knew a few people from logistics. He had some back pay. He’d managed to procure for himself ten strips of bacon, six eggs, some biscuits, and a small, precious amount of tea. He carefully bore these items to a trench where he was staying in lieu of his tank. Jonesy and the new gunner, Daltrey, were both there.

“Today is the day, gentlemen,” said Arrington, holding up the food.

The crew clapped Arrington on the back and exclaimed their thankfulness, but not too loudly in case others may have been listening.

“Did you two get the water boiling?”

“Indeed,” said Daltrey, pointing to a pot which they were using in the absence of a proper kettle.

“Good. Now, as for cost. Who's the man with money?”

Jones and Daltrey both groaned, but they were willing to forfeit their pay for a chance for a real breakfast. They both handed over a few pounds to Arrington, and they set to work cooking it. They had considered soft boiling the eggs but in the end Jones fried them with the drippings from the bacon. (Butter was a laughably rare luxury.)

When all was finished cooking, all three of them sat down with their tin plates and their thermoses partially full of the carefully rationed tea. Each of the three soldiers savored the moment before ravenously digging into their food.

Arrington slowed down quickly, and by the time Jones and Daltrey were done, his plate was still three quarters of the way full. They both drooled, watching him eat. He stopped, finally, and waved his fork as though it were some great weapon.

"Neither of you are getting any of mine, so you may as well snap your tongues back into your mouths and go away. Why don't you fellows start getting the lay of the land? You'll need practice driving a tank with only a crew of two anyway.

"What?" Daltrey said angrily, "Why do we have to do that?"

"Military insurance or something. It's a legal matter, I think. All I know is that word has come from on high that all crews need at least two dozen hours of practice without their commanders. Now get out of here! Run, run, run!"

Arrington waved them out of the trench. Grumbling, the driver and the gunner left. The Animal leaned back to savor his breakfast and was about to take a bite when an explosion went off not far above him. The distinctive shrapnel of a coalie mortar rained down around him.

"Oh, bloody hell," he said, "Now I will not get a chance to finish my breakfast. Ah, forget them. I'm eating anyway. And nothing's going to stop me."

There came a long string of cursing and yelling in Spanish, and suddenly a Spanish soldier in armor jumped down into Arrington's fox hole. Arrington swiftly grabbed up an AS-gun and put a huge, blood soaked hole in the Spaniard. He set about eating his breakfast.

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