By JS O’Keefe

Artwork by Toni Verkruysse“This is gonna be exciting, lieutenant, and I bet they don’t teach it in the military academy. The kinda real action you can only learn in the trenches.”

“Yes, sir.”

“Watch now: Wild West in the East. Sergeant Balik’s climbing up the roof and covering the chimney with his coat. As you can tell already, the idea is that the old rickety farmhouse’s gonna be filled up with smoke. Pretty slick, ain’t it?”

“Yes, sir.”

“Now the enemy’s got two choices. If they stay inside, they’re gonna suffocate to death. If they run out of the house, we’re gonna have a turkey shoot.”

“Yes, sir.”

“The beauty of it, of course, is that I ain’t gonna lose a single one of my guys. When I lead men into battle my primary goal is to keep them alive. That's of utmost importance to any commander worth his rank. Unfortunately it doesn’t always work out that way; we do lose soldiers, and quite frequently. Every casualty on our side is a devastating loss even if we finish off the enemy to their last man.”

“Yes, sir.”

“Any questions, lieutenant?”

“Yes, sir, I do. What about civilians? What if there are civilians in the farmhouse with the enemy?”

“Civilians? You mean innocent victims, right? That kinda talk is for politicians, chickenshit reporters and blasé pacifists. As far as I am concerned, only completely disabled elderly members of the enemy are worth keeping alive. They can do no harm to us and at the same time they are a big burden on their society. I especially love the old geezers with severe arthritis in their hands. They can’t pick up a spoon, much less pull the trigger.”

“Yes, sir.”

“Women, you ask? The gentler sex, those foxy, celestial creatures we go nuts about, and rightfully so in peacetime? The answer is no. Forget radiant dames, forget cheerleaders. Women are not only enemy, each one of them is many enemy. Think about it, in childbearing age every broad can potentially produce several hostile babies. And those babies are gonna suck more and more venom into themselves with the mother’s milk.

“Yes, sir.”

And how about them toddlers and teenagers, you also ask? Well, let me clue you in on kids. They are guaranteed future enemy. After witnessing what’s happened to their people, they’ll grow up with hate in their hearts and become even more ferocious sons of the bitches than their fathers and uncles ever were.”

“Yes, sir.”

“Alright, lieutenant, enough of talking philosophy; seems they’re about to break out of the house. Their lungs and eyes drenched in smoke, they’re gonna be disoriented; the easiest targets. Shoot midriff, and stay covered. It would be a personal tragedy to me if you got hurt. Since the beginning of the campaign I’ve lost three soldiers. I’ll remember their faces and names till the day I die.”

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About the Author

john okeefe 300J. S. O’Keefe is a scientist, trilingual translator and writer.

His short stories and poems have been published in Roi Faineant, Scribes*MICRO, Every Day Fiction, AntipodeanSF, 101 Words, Microfiction Monday, 50WS, Friday Flash Fiction, Medium, Paragraph Planet, 6S, WENSUM, Spillwords, Satire, etc.

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