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The Retreat 5: Muldoon’s Small Step for Man

“Tenth Mountain!” Cassidy yelled again, just as a crackle of gunfire erupted to the south. That was where Fort Stewart proper lay, and Muldoon felt the little hairs on the back of his neck stand up. He stumbled then, tripping over one of the corpses. It was a still in rigor mortis, which meant it hadn’t been dead all that long. He tried to step around it, but his big boot landed on the bloated belly of another klown which had been dead for a while, and the pressure of his weight forced it to exhale a cloud of foul-smelling gas that erupted from the body’s mouth like one of Satan’s snores.

“God job there, Duke,” Nutter complained. “You’re killing us with klown farts!”

Muldoon was just forming a suitably saucy retort when another corpse in the field of the dead to his right suddenly stirred. With a hitching giggle, it reached toward him as flies erupted from it, their primitive nervous systems startled by the sudden movement. Maggots already crawled over the man; in fact, one ear was essentially overrun by a squirming white mass of larvae that were making a meal of the blood-encrusted appendage. Before Muldoon could do much of anything, the klown snatched a hold of his ankle. Blood oozed from its mouth as it released a gurgling cackle.

Campbell jostled him as she shouldered up to him and fired a single round into the klown’s face, stilling it for all eternity. The grotesquerie shuddered a few times, making a hacking noise before it fell silent.

“Shit, John Wayne. I thought you knew how to do this stuff,” Campbell said.

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The Retreat 5: Fucking Art

The Bushmasters caught the klown element in a slanting engagement from their rear quarter. There were only twenty to thirty of the enemy in the woods firing on the Army revetments across the rail tracks, and they’d had absolutely no rear guards posted. When Cassidy gave the orders to roll up and start dispensing hot hate, the klowns had been caught totally off guard. A lot of that was due to the tenacity of the troops manning the fighting positions they were attacking. But a good deal of that was due to the fact the lightfighters knew how to do their job, and Muldoon made sure everyone was up and on a rifle before the bullets began to fly.

They cut through the klowns with a practiced efficiency that made even Muldoon proud. The newbies like the girl Campbell were as proficient as the most seasoned of the lightfighters, and that left the hulking sergeant with a case of the warm glows. His people were ready, they were experienced, they were fucking killers. When the enemy lay before them, they did not hesitate. They weren’t bound up by emotion or thought. It didn’t matter if the person they were snuffing out had been a gold star dad, a movie star, a renowned scientist who was within an eighth of an inch of discovering a cure for cancer, the first woman CEO to lead a Fortune 20 company, an activist who managed to capture the attention of the media for a nanosecond, a fucking Kardashian. They hosed them all, and did so with discipline and an economy of force that told Muldoon they weren’t just thinking about this engagement, they were thinking about the next one, and the one after that.

Warriors, all.

Muldoon was impressed.

Even the old fucker Boats was a juggernaut, slashing through the infected like a total force of nature. There was no holding him back. He stood and delivered, up to and including war howls that Muldoon was certain would have raised and hairs on the back of even the hardiest mujahedin’s neck. For an old guy—hell, even for a young guy—Boats gave hell like no other, cutting a deep swath into the enemy ranks through which the rest of the lightfighters poured, raining hell on anyone who opposed them. It was beautiful.

It was fucking art.

THE RETREAT 5: The Profound and the Profane

June 13, 2018 1 comment

 

“God damn it, why us?” Nutter said. “We’re always in the shit! This makes my balls retract, man!”

“Hadn’t noticed they’d dropped, sweetheart,” Campbell said.

“Campbell, shut the fuck up,” Nutter snapped as the rest of the troops climbed aboard the truck.

“Hey, take it easy there, Colonel,” Muldoon said. “You know you’re in the Army, right? We’re lightfighters, we always get the shit duty.”

Nutter looked across the truck bed at Muldoon. “It’s getting kinda old, Duke,” he said. His eyes looked hollow, and that worried Muldoon a bit.

“Can’t promise you nothing bad’s going to happen,” Muldoon said. “But I can’t promise you anything good is gonna go down either, so there’s that.”

Nutter slumped back against the truck’s side rail. “You’re a bright beam of sunlight in the darkness of my eternal night, Duke.”

“Damn. That sounded profound.”

“That’s because I forgot to add ‘motherfucker’ at the end to make it profane.”