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Just a note - some cursing behind the cut
***

I look out over the hills, holding my gun close.

My gun…my friend. It never leaves my side. Orders.

We’re all standing in a line, looking out over the landscape, watching the hills burn. We’re not sure how the fire started or why it has spread so far. When we arrived it covered several hills. In fifteen minutes time it has consumed the visible countryside.

Out here the night sky is usually clear and the stars bold. Tonight you can see nothing in the sky save for the light of the fire reflecting off of billowing black smoke. I don’t know what Hell looks like, but I imagine it might look something like this…at least in parts.

When we saw the fire we stopped moving. We could probably make it through, but command has decided not to risk it. So we stopped. We watched. We’re still watching twenty minutes later.



Those are fields burning. Homes. Huts crumbling under the flame. People’s lives and livelihoods. Gone - poof! Vanished in a billow of smoke. No recovering from this.

A couple yards away command is on the radio trying to figure out what started the fire. Was it us? Was it them?

Nearby someone spit’s a long stream of chew on the ground.

“Fuck, man,” says the spitter. “This ain’t no bomb. How many bombs have we seen go off? None of ‘em have done this.”

The spit initiates a chorus of chew-spitting. I am not immune. I spit my tobacco on the ground as well. Like a toast.

“People done this,” the spitter continues. “What else coulda done something like this? Nah…not in this part of the world. This had to be set. Premeditated and shit.”

“How the fuck do you know if it’s premeditated or not?” I ask into the burning scene before us.

“You make this happen, man. Somethin’ on this scale - you make it happen. It don’t just fucking happen.”

I don’t look over at him. The fire is mesmerizing, but even more so its bloody reflection on the smoke.

“You make a murder happen, too,” I say. “But not every murder is premeditated.” I paused. “You know what I’m sayin’, dawg?” I ask, imitating his gangster accent.

He laughs. “Yeah, I know what you’re sayin’.”

Finally he’s quiet. We continue to stare into the fire, listening to the crackling drone of command on the radios.

“We’re not getting through this until it’s burned itself out,” I say. “They can barely fight this shit in LA. There’s no way they can fight it in this part of the world.”

“Not a bomb, gents.”

I tear my eyes away from the fire to look at the Lieutenant as he strides over.

“I coulda told you that,” someone says down the line.

The Lieutenant hears it, I can see, but he doesn’t say anything. Because he knows - it’s the first thing he said when we saw and stopped: not a bomb. No bomb of ours, no bomb of theirs.

“Arson?” The spitter asks.

“No way to know that,” the Lieutenant responds.

“They’ll have us investigatin’ this shit?”

“Nope,” the Lieutenant says to the spitter. “We’re gonna get down for the night. Go around in the morning.”

“Sir,” I say, “it doesn’t look like there is an around.”

“Have faith, gents,” he says, looking from me to the rest of the small platoon. “There’s always an around.” Turning, he headed back to the vehicle, leaving us to figure out where we should be hunkering down for the night.

“There’s always a way around,” someone was muttering. “Bullshit.”

I look back over the burning land. “At least we can see tonight.”

We dig in for the night. But it’s just like any other night - the fire doesn’t change it. No campfire stories.

A couple hours, max. Then up and going - always going. Next mission: find the way around.



Muse: Unnamed Soldier
Fandom: Original Character
Word Count: 650

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