Welcome to Flash Fiction Friday and the tenth piece of flash fiction in this new weekly series. Tonight Theodore P. Druch returns with a 968-worder entitled ‘Confession’.
I’m dead, and I know it. If I‘m lucky I’ll be gone in half-an-hour. If not, it could take eight or nine. The agony is intense, like burning brands. The slugs had gotten me right in the gut, and unless someone comes soon, there is no help. The rest of the platoon have been driven back down the hill, leaving me and Grayson behind. He’s past worrying about anything. There’s nothing on his shoulders to worry with. He’s lying about five yards off, and I can see the pistol lying near his bloody hand. Mine had been emptied in the fighting.
I look down at my blood-soaked blouse. Every few seconds fountains of red erupt – they are smaller now.
As quickly as the battle had begun, it ended. There was a sudden quiet except for the faraway shouts of the enemy as they routed the platoon. Then more shooting, followed by more silence. I don’t think anyone will be coming back for me anytime soon, and I’m not too fond of the idea of falling into Graak hands. They’ll most likely sit around eating, watching me die and laughing about it. They’ll even do their best to keep me around as long as possible. Dandor once told me that the only thing better than sex for a Graak is the sound of human agony.
I think about Janet and the kids and what a fool I’d been. I’d had it made, but greed drove me, and I wanted to retire at a higher pension.
“Just one more mission.” I told her, “and I’ll be back for good and we can live the high life.”
What a goddamn fool.
She’d begged me over and over to quit, but it fell on my deaf ears. As long as I can remember I’d wanted to be a Trooper. Whistling through space filled my dreams, and every waking moment was spent poring over any vid I could get my hands on. When I was finally old enough, I signed up.
Training was torture, and I loved every minute of it. I’d always wanted the brilliantly toned body of a Trooper, and the thought of finally going on a mission overrode my protesting muscles.
Women had never been much of a consideration, UTO girls were a credit a dozen and that satisfied me between missions. Then I met Janet, and for the first time in my life, I forgot all about the Troopers. For the first time it occurred to me that I wasn’t getting any younger. I couldn’t be a Trooper forever, but I had nothing else to fall back on. I was a self-contained killing-machine, but there was little call for that in civilian life. What work was available could get you locked up for good.
I convinced Janet that I was good enough at my job to stay alive. She resisted at first, but eventually she gave in and we were married. Then the kids came, and the house, and the credits I was pulling down were the only way to pay for it all.
The same old story, I guess.
It got to the point that being regularly separated from them overrode the satisfactions of my job, and I began to think about quitting. What the hell did I need this for, traipsing around the galaxy killing for political reasons that meant absolutely nothing to me, when I had a beautiful wife and good kids waiting for me whenever I got home.
The fantasies of my childhood, and the excitement of my first missions, eventually settled into a regular pattern of mad battles, blood-soaked corpses, and black, empty space. I was damned good at my job, but slowly, the satisfaction turned into boredom.
I began to kick myself for opting out of the Ed program when it was offered, but now it was too late to go back, and there was nothing else I could do. I held on until we wouldn’t have to worry about anything, ever again.
If I’d had any brains, I’d have chucked it all the first time we made love. Now, there‘s nothing left but me bleeding my life away on a planet whose name I can’t pronounce, fighting people I know nothing about. What an asshole.
Pain grips me and drives all other thoughts out of my head.
I look over at Grayson’s pistol lying uselessly on the ground. There’s my salvation – if I can get to it. A quick bullet in the brain would steal the Graak’s pleasure, but I figure they won’t take long to get back here.
I try to crawl over. Blinding pain, and I pass out.
I’m not out long, and I try again. Same results. I haven’t moved an inch. The five yards are looking like five miles, and I figure that I only have five minutes.
I try again, and this time I manage to roll over and get up on my knees before I pass out. Little by little, I drag myself towards what’s left of Grayson, struggling against the pain, trying to shut it out, but it’s hopeless. I just have to work through it and try to stay awake. That seems hopeless too. Crawling towards the pistol takes place between naps.
I hear voices approaching. The Graak are returning. I don’t have far to go, and with one last effort, I work through the agony and grab the pistol. I can hear the Graak laughing loudly. I figure I have seconds.
I lie down on the ground, and somehow, manage to drag the pistol up to my head just as the Graak burst into the clearing and catch sight of me, I squeeze the trigger.
Grayson had emptied his gun too.
I asked Ted what prompted this piece and he said…
The inspiration for Confession came to me after seeing Avatar. I am a big fan of flash fiction. It is one of the finest ways I know to hone your writing skills, and to write, ala Hemingway, the perfect sentence.
And you certainly have a way. Thank you, Ted.
Born in Milwaukee, educated at Brandeis and later at the Timothy Leary commune in Millbrook, NY, Theodore P. Druch, Ted to his friends, spent most of his life in trivial pursuits – like making a living. After chucking it all and traveling around the world for ten years like a dandelion seed on the wind, he settled in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico. He is an active member of the Puerto Vallarta Writer’s Group, and conducts a weekly workshop for serious authors.
In the last two years, Ted has published four full-length non-fiction e-books, and is currently working on his first novel, a historical fantasy of 1492 called King David’s Harp. He fully expects it to be a blockbusting best-seller, filled as it is with pirates, adventurers, corrupt popes and priests, several heroes and heroines, and a search for clues to the hiding place of the harp of King David, the recovery of which might bring about the return of the Messiah.
Footprints on a Small Planet is also available as a trade paperback through Amazon. Ted’s blog can be found at http://selfpublishedandbroke.wordpress.com and you can watch his African Odyssey trailer here.
If you’d like to submit your 1,000-word max. stories for consideration for Flash Fiction Friday take a look here. The blog interviews will return as normal tomorrow with humorous romance novelist Carole Matthews – the one hundred and ninety-ninth of my blog interviews with novelists, poets, short story authors, bloggers, biographers, agents, publishers and more. A list of interviewees (blogged and scheduled) can be found here. If you like what you read, please do go and investigate further. And I enjoy hearing from readers of my blog; do either leave a comment on the relevant interview (my guests love to hear from you too!) and / or email me. You can also read / download my eBooks and free eShorts at Smashwords (Amazon to follow).