The Final Bullet

“I summon you, the beasts of war!”

One soldier suddenly screamed into the darkening lazuline skies nearly obscured by smoke and flame surrounding them as they huddled in a found trench.

The tokens that had moved around maps in the plotting and paper rehearsal of their campaign in the sterility of the general’s compound, had not lived up to its gritty reality.  If 100 things could have gone wrong, it seemed that 90 of them had. Watson again pushed away the mental reminder that this mission would be his final bullets for a while; he would be on leave in a few days. Having been back-turned twice, this mission was one for the Fail column. Those thoughts did him no good now when the few of them left were simply trying to survive long enough to report this failure of a mission.

“Janssen! What the bloody hell are you doing? Shut it!” Another soldier, Corporal Murray, hissed.

With his rifle raised overhead to the sky in defiant punctuation, Lieutenant Janssen continued his rant.

“Come! Cast your shadows upon my flesh. You think me afraid? Come then! Come find a gallant feast of fear in which to dine and learn that Janssen is a poor man’s buffet indeed for I am not ear-marked to be such food stuffs!”

Captain Watson’s head spun from Janssen’s outcry, to Lieutenant Rupali,  a meter on his opposite side in a clear do you hear this? expression before they ducked from a spray of stone and debris from another blast close to where they were. Blasts that were getting closer and closer as the enemy closed in.

Captain Watson wished he were surprised. He had always felt there was something off with Janssen but had kept it to himself. The man was a decent soldier, if high strung. When Janssen, what they at the time had thought was jokingly, fancied himself a modern-day Shakespearean tragedy in the making and started to sprinkle Elizabethan speech into his words, Watson knew he was no longer the only one who had begun to worry as signs of that off-ness increased. It explained Janssen’s language as the mission and his mind started unraveling. 

They have been on the run for three days straight as they wove their way out of the gauntlet of enemy territory. At times there was no choice but to quickly fish through the belongings of the slain, picking up ammunition and whatever supplies from the fallen who no longer needed them. Leave no man behind, an abandoned concept in their desperation for survival. Watson felt the weight from the collected dog tags of those he could get to that he carried in his med pack.

He knew they were so close to being saved. Their last radio communique before it was shot out had them no more than a couple of kilometers from the rescue approaching on the other side.  The last thing they needed was attention drawn to themselves. It was clear Lieutenant Janssen had not got that message as another grenade blast went off far too close to them. Watson knew the next one would strike true. They had to abandon their position.

“Come you spilled seed! A worthiness for only the lead of my bullets to eat!”

There was no ambiguity about it, Janssen had gone mad; the screaming man rising to his feet now put them all at risk.

“Jesus Christ! He’s going to get us killed!” Rupali swung his rifle around, his intention clear.

It was Rupali’s outcry that made Janssen turn and lock eyes with his fellow lieutenant. Watson and Rupali knew then that any chance at communion with Janssen was gone a moment before he turned and started screaming at a run when he was brought down.

“No!” Watson yelled as he scrambled out of the trench, the doctor already swinging his med pack around for use.

Some part of him registered the increased firepower as his people began to engage the enemy to give him a chance. He ignored it as he made his way to Janssen.   

He dropped to his knees, his mind already in medic mode as he began to triage. It took a moment before it registered that he was too far from his patient. It was another moment before the agonizing pain that caused him to drop his med pack from the bullet that tore through him made itself known.

But Watson knew it was bad. Very bad.

He did not notice that their rescue had finally arrived; his thoughts as he slipped into unconsciousness: Please, God, let me live. Don’t let this be the final bullet.


The Sunday Whirl  | Wordle 509
Language, Eat, Fish, Flame, Feast, Saved, Risk, Unraveling, Spray, Shadow, Stone, Off

Mindlovemisery’s Menagerie | Wordle #249
Gallant, Ear-Marked, Sterility, Fail, Stone, Plotting, Rehearsal, Punctuation, Ambiguity, 100, Back-Turned, Communion

Mindlovemisery’s Menagerie |First Line Friday: July 16, 2021
“I summon you, the beasts of war!”

When A Raivenne Gets An Idea…

It’s October. Halloween is a couple of weeks away. I write Sherlock fanfic. So I asked myself, “Self, what would the classic Sherlock Holmes thinking pose look like on a skeleton?”

Naturally, nothing I wanted came premade, ready to hang. It Joanne’s, Michael’s, Amazon and even IKEA to create it. Even with ample ventilation I feel I will be smelling spray paint for days. It took several passes to get the pieces, especially the hands that dark.

It’s not exactly as I imagined it. And I am not sure, Jeremy Brett, Nigel Rathbone or even Benedict Cumberbatch would think much of it, but I love it.

In Memory of Birds Chirping

The boy liked the sound of the birds chirping in the garden. He looked up into the trees and raised a hand to shade his eyes against the dappled sunlight that partially blinded him through the verdant leaves. He can just make out one of the birds on a branch.

He smiled, the bird sounded happy, but how would he know? The boy knew the normal daily sounds of the pigeons and sparrows, but were they happy or sad sounds? His young mind felt it was a sign of happiness. but was not sure. Maybe when he was older and heard more he could tell.

He knew that would not happen. He had studying to do. He was roped into sitting in the garden listening to birds because his mother had insisted that he take a token break and rest his mind or not have dessert with dinner.

“I am five! I do not need to rest my mind. My mind is perfectly fine.” He had huffed at first, but now happily sat on the bench and listened to the nature around him.

He then remembered the loud panicked caw of a scared bird.

“Mum, remember last week when that crow somehow got its wing wrapped around the clothesline? We had to…” the boy turned to look at his mother. Only she was not there.

The boy gawked at the old man that sat next to him on the garden bench. His face was such that the boy knew the man was handsome when he was young and he had aged handsomely with it. The old man wore a very nice suit under his trench coat. His age spotted hands rested on an umbrella that looked vaguely familiar. He looked up at the birds in the trees as well. Sunlight glinted off the sparse silver strands on his head. The gentle smile on the old man’s face slowly faded as his head turned and a pair of warm brown eyes settled on him.

“Who are you?” the boy asked.

The warm brown eyes in front of him filled with concern. “My…?”

“My name is Mycroft. It is only two syllables. If you are privileged to know the first, please be so kind as to make you way to the last.” The boy said haughtily.

The old man had reached out to touch his hand, but the boy snatched it away from the stranger. “Who ARE you?”

The old man quickly looked across the way behind him and the boy followed the gaze. Two men and a woman sat at a different bench behind them. The woman stood, her kind eyes narrowed as she approached him, the two men rapidly followed her.

He tried to run but his body was so slow to move as though taped to the bench. The three quickly caught up and restrained him by the arms. The old man cringed as he apologized, tears had begun to mist his eyes.

When he felt the prick of the needle in his arm, he had a moment of clarity and remembered.

Middle age, brother mine. Comes to us all. He remembered saying to his brother once and now thinks:old age too.

“Sundowning…” Mycroft whispered to himself.

Mycroft knew this was not the first time. At nearly a century in age, he was still surprisingly strong and had once sprained a nurse’s wrist in his panic between minds. This time the staff got to him before he had become violent. It was happening more and more. The greatest mind of his generation and it was slowly being chopped away in dementia.

Mycroft reached out a hand as his eyes found the teary eyes of his husband.

“I understand Gregory. I love you.”

Greg gave him a wavering smile as their fingers touched over his umbrella. Mycroft heard the birds chirping as the sedative took him.

The boy liked the sound of the birds chirping in the garden.

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The Sunday WhirlWordle 441

wordle-441

Use the following 12 words in a short story or poem:

sign – token – mind – form – gawk – mist
across – tape – chopped – arm – cringe – rope