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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."

Saturday, September 12, 2009

The Last War: Chapter 59

"I'm bored," Private Aubrey Dansworth sighed heavily.

The PFC next to him laughed loudly.

"Would you rather be dead or bored?" the second soldier demanded.

"Look, I fought in a battle once, and I survived."

"What battle?"


"Ooh, that was a crippler. You have any scars or anything? What did you do at Bayonne?"

"Drove a tank. It was rather boring, actually, but I came under fire."

The PFC grunted. They were stationed at Brighton. They'd come from Soho down to Brighton, way down in Southern England. After Germany had been taken, there was fear of a British invasion by the Eastern Bloc. Free Germany, the displaced German government, was located in Norway, and was trying to regroup for long enough to retake their native soil, but until then England was in peril.

Unfortunately, it was impending peril. Well, not so much peril as danger. Not even danger, really. There was a chance - well, a probability, anyway - well, more of a possibility of an invasion attempt. The truth was if an invasion was going to happen, it would not be for a very long time. And, until then, Dansworth and his whole battalion was stationed here, and bored.

"Drove a tank? How'd you get bumped down to the infantry?"

"Well, I wasn't technically part of the military at the time. You see I was a reporter."

"You're that Aubrey Dansworth?" his friend exclaimed, "I thought your names were just the same."

"No, that's me. Well, was, anyway."

"Bloody hell, it's an honor to meet you, sir!"

The PFC bowed slightly to Dansworth.

"Dammit, we've known each other all through boot camp."

"Well, yeah, but I didn't actually know you until just now."

"Oh, sod it. We've got to find something to do. I'm going absolutely nutty here."

The PFC scratched her head thoughtfully.

"Some of the fellows gamble."

"Have you cards?"


"Have you dice?"


"Then how the hell are we supposed to gamble?" Dansworth yelled out.

The other soldier looked around herself, as though something to gamble with would appear out of nowhere. She picked up a metal mess dish.

"We could use this dish."

There was a brief pause.

"How?" prompted Dansworth.

"Well, we could sort of...throw it. Or, rather...that is to say, uh...I don't know. I'm shooting coalies in the dark here."

"I've got it!" exclaimed the former newscaster, snapping his fingers, "We'll have a race."

"Of what?"

"Of, er, something that comes readily to hand, that is, um, lice! That's it, head lice!"

"Head lice? That's not really a bad idea."

"Of course not. When was the last time you took a shower?"

The PFC pondered thoughtfully.

"A few months. Shame about the living conditions."

"I've not had a shower in an even longer time! We're sure to colonies in our scalps."

Dansworth plucked a louse from his filthy head and placed it on the metal dish. The other soldier did likewise. Dansworth pulled out a book of matches and lit one, then drew a small line on the plate in the charcoal of the burnt match. This was the finish line. The two warriors then watched the dish for a moment, but neither louse seemed very intent on doing anything.

"We can light a match under the tin to get them going," Private Dansworth said, handing his opponent a match, "I'll wager £10 my louse can beat your louse any day of the week."

"You're on."

They each lit a match under their respective lice, and watched the small parasites take off. Dansworth's louse turned out to be the feistier one, and he took ten pounds from the other soldier. A small crowd of British soldiers began to gather around Dansworth and his friend, and money began to change hands in the audience as well.

Boldly, Dansworth declared, "My head lice can beat the head lice of any soldier on the planet at any time, and I'll take on anyone who thinks they can beat me."

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