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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, June 25, 2009

The Last War: Chapter 23, Part 3

Qahira entered Morocco not far from Er Rachidia. There was still no sign of the 16th, and Cairo hadn't tried to contact him since Igoumensita's message. Many of the African troops already in Morocco cheered when they came within eyesight. In the distance, guns were going off. This agitated Qahira greatly. He found a gaunt, terrible looking Nigerian officer and began speaking to him.

"Is there a battle going on now?" asked Qahira hurriedly.

A wane ghost of a smile flitted across the Nigerian's lips.

"Sure, I suppose there is."

"Where? Where is it going on?" the Egyptian demanded.

The Nigerian waved his arms in an all encompassing gesture.

"Everywhere," he said simply.

"Well, we've got to go somewhere and fight!" said Qahira.

Now the Nigerian seemed urgent.

"Oh no, you can't do that! You'll be killed. We can't have any real battles around here."

"What? Why not?"

"We tried a long time ago. The Germans and the French, we can't hurt them. They've got some kind of, I don't know, armor. When we first got here, we tried assaulting their position every day. Too many of our men have died. We can't hurt them with our guns.

"It's just...a standstill. Our orders are to keep the Alliance from moving north or east, or well, at all. The big chiefs don't want Allies striking all the way into their territory. They want the fighting to stay here. So we can't let the Allies move. And we can't beat them back."

Qahira took his hat from his head and threw it to the desert sand in disgust.

"Then what the hell did they tell us to come here for?" he screamed, his usually excellent Egyptian diction quavering.

"Well, we need more men to build trenches and, well, sit in them. We were expecting a lot more of you, though."

"Yes, well, some of my men had to go back to Egypt for no real reason."

The Nigerian smiled wanly again, "We also needed you here for supplies. How much food and water did you bring?"

Qahira waved toward his tanks and crates in withdrawn disgust.

"Take all you want," he spat out.

This seemed to ignite a spark in the extant army. Could it really be food? And water, too, no less? Qahira noticed how skeletally thin they all were, as they began to gorge themselves on the meager supplies The Rhinos had brought with them. It dawned on him that it wouldn't be long until his own men were starving and dying. There would be no pitched battles in Morocco. The war in North Africa had ground to a standstill.

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