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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."

Thursday, August 6, 2009

The Last War: Chapter 44

"Fire! Fire, you bastards!"

Hearing the sergeant's frenzied cry, Corporal Ricardo Cerdo opened fire on the Brazilians with his AS gun. The smell of sweat, metal, blood, and oil was in the air, but was fighting it's own battle with the pungent smoke. A Brazilian came running at Cerdo, screaming and firing shells at him.

Cerdo swung at the man with the butt of his AS gun, and knocked him unconscious. If one of Cerdo's fellows didn't take care of him, the fire surely would. Cerdo lit up a nearby tree with his handheld, standard-issue flamer.

All around him the rainforest was burning. When the war was over, Colombian farmers would enter Brazil and begin farming this land. In a way, the army was doing them a service. But for now it served to eke out the Brazilians from their hiding places.


Ricardo swiveled quickly to see his sergeant bringing an AS gun to bear and firing at him. He pulled the trigger and a spray of shells came towards him. Cerdo was flung around, as though the bullets had pushed him out of the way. He could now see that his sergeant wasn't firing at him, but behind him, at a clump of Brazilians. Shivering with the release of fear he fired at the Brazilians too. It was only afterwards that he noticed he had wet his pants. He stood there trembling, feeling the warm spot in his pants clinging to his skin.

"Come on, Cerdo," yelled his sergeant, "The only reason I saved your miserable hide is so you can go out there and kill some more Brazilians before you really bite the dust!"

Ricardo nodded and became almost like an automaton, firing, stopping, moving forward, firing, stopping, moving forward. He had already long since used up his allotment of Executioners when he tripped over a dead comrade. He snapped out of his trance.

"Hector," he whispered, "Hector muerte!"

He had known the man. Hector was clenching in his pale, icy hand a black drum marked with a skull.

"Forgive me, Hector," said Ricardo, "But I need these more than you."

With that, he pried the Executioners out of his dead friend's rigor mortis hand and snapped the drum into his own AS gun. He tapped the trigger lightly so that only a single shell went rocketing towards the Brazilian position. It exploded in a blossom of fire that sent a squad of Brazilians flying and ignited a copse of trees.

The Colombians all cheered.

"I thought we'd all ran out of Executioners!" someone yelled.

"So did I," Ricardo whispered under his breath, and then pressed forward.

It was a common lament of sergeants and officers on all sides that troops always used up their Executioners far too quickly in battle. It meant that battles always began explosively (literally) but soon became monotonous and difficult as only regular shells were used.

A private with a flamethrower leaped next to Ricardo. All Colombian soldiers had some sort of incendiary device to burn out the Brazilian rainforests, but a special few had those massive flamethrowers for real slash and burning.

"I'm supposed to cover your flanks, corporal," she said, "The sergeant says for you to push as far forward as you can, and the troops with just shells will follow in your wake."

Cerdo nodded and began to run forward, firing conservatively to carefully preserve his precious few explosive shells. The other soldier followed him, sending sheets of flames in both directions of him to ward off attack from the sides. They quickly became a two person wedge, pushing forward through the enemy lines, and allowing the advance of their mates. Still, the other Colombians were far behind Cerdo and his defender. They were all alone and out front.

The young corporal had just leapt into a Brazilian trench screaming "Die!" when his AS gun ceased pummeling him with recoil. It clicked repeatedly, and Cerdo's heart sunk into his stomach as he realized he was out of Executioners. With a yell, three Brazilians rushed at him, firing, but a wall of flame soon halted their advance.

Cerdo looked up and said, "Gracias," to his companion.

She nodded back and he jammed a round of regular shells into his AS gun. It looked grim, and the two of them began firing wildly as what seemed like the entire Brazilian army came rushing towards them.

A single Brazilian had managed to avoid death at the hands of the flamethrower wielding private, but his gun had become so hot from the inferno that he had to drop it and grapple with Ricardo hand to hand.

The Brazilian had already knocked his weapon out of his hand so he looked up to his defender for help, but she was concentrating intently on holding back the Brazilian advance single-handedly. He tried to scream to her for help, but the Brazilian had already wrapped his hands around Cerdo's neck, and was crushing his Adam’s apple so that no sound could come out. Ricardo vainly flailed his arms, trying to catch the Brazilian, but only succeeded in grabbing a fold of cloth from the other's uniform and quickly losing it.

Ricardo had grown utterly weak from oxygen deprivation in the tenacious, crushing grip of his enemy. Black spots began to appear before his eyes, and he slowly lost the will to fight, and ceased even to struggle. It seemed so simple. Just fall asleep, and never wake up...

His heart beat slower and slower, his lungs ceased fighting, and his mind drifted away from the battlefield and towards a warm, inviting place. He sunk to his knees slowly, and continued to sink.

He was snapped out of it suddenly when the butt of an AS gun crushed the Brazilian's skull and flung him to the ground. Ricardo looked up to see his sergeant, who had saved his life for the second time that day. Dozens of Colombians were pouring into the trench to relieve the beleaguered and almost dead two advanced guards.

The Colombian army, not long ago far behind Ricardo and his defender, had finally caught up with them. The Brazilians were running like pigs from the slaughter. Ricardo managed to crawl out of the way of his fellows' charge. He'd be of no use to them in his current, asphyxiated condition.

Ricardo only managed to cheer, very weakly, for his compatriots, but he was still regarded as the hero of the day. By the end of the week Brasilia was in ruins, and all of the forests were burning. Brazil was taken.

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