Tales of the Apocalypse: The Sergeant

“A-at least I made a difference…” The effort sends blood flecking the boy’s lips. His lungs are slowly filling with blood spilling into Sarge’s lap with every cough. No, you fucking didn’t, Sarge screams, you’re just another useless fucking casualty. But the boy doesn’t hear. His eyes have gone out like the night’s last embers.

Sarge gets to his feet, the sack of meat slumping face down into the dust. He walks to the Command tent, passing rows of moaning men with filthy needles hanging from their arms. Brushing aside the tent flap, he takes out his pistol and sends a bullet into the General’s skull. A captain and lieutenant have their guns instantly trained on him. The lieutenant moves his gun hand away and shoots the captain in the stomach, his electric blue eyes inexpressive. Sarge’s moss green gaze flickers to the lieutenant’s bruised cephalic vein. “I shoot up with a saline solution,” the lieutenant says, going outside to see if anyone has heard the shots. He returns shaking his head. “We better get out of here. They won’t be too happy once they find out.”

“There’s something I want to do first,” Sarge says. He sweeps the ringstained maps from a trunk and takes from it a chunk of plasticine. The lieutenant looks at him for a moment before nodding. They arrange to meet at the outskirts of camp in fifteen minutes, and Sarge leaves for the doctor’s to cancel his prescription.

It was a maze of barbed wire and trenches stretching to the east and to the west. It smelled like a latrine. Sentries were fast asleep at their posts, guns pointed at the ground. A dog has died days ago, its bone etched flank squirming with maggots. When Sarge arrives, he finds the lieutenant with some guns, two packs of rations, and what little fresh water he could find. They look at the world their grandfathers left for them. Sarge spat on the ground.

“Let’s go north. I hear elk hunting is good at this time of the year,” says Sarge, pressing the detonator. At the center of camp the dwindling supply of heroin goes up in a pillar of fire, and the traitorous pair can hear the keening moan of the vast junkie army left without a fix. “The fresh air’ll be good for us,” the lieutenant says, smiling for the first time in years.


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