On my 128th day in Afghanistan, Blackwood and I were relaxing, smoking cigarettes. He said, “I don’t think we’re going to make it out of here.”
And I chuckled. Not because I thought he was wrong, but because I was surprised it took him so long to figure that out.
Chris is a former US Marine who served in Iraq and Afghanistan.
The gun shots ring out in the night.
There is nothing I can do but hide and wait for this hell to be over.
When the morning comes I’ll leave this place forever, become a refugee, someone trying to escape this carnage.
Maybe some day I’ll be free at last.
Scott Gambon is a student at Orion High School in Illinois. He is 17 years old, the youngest of 4 siblings.
“Here’s the hairspring, son: the watch’s clockwork heart. It controls how fast the watch runs, and how long it can go before it stops.”
In the trenches it’s my father’s words that keep me going. Every night I wind the watch, and every morning I wake to face the thunder.
Jeremy Nelson spent most his life in the urban tropics of Hong Kong before life grafted him into the conifer trees of the Pacific Northwest. He received his MFA in fiction from Vermont College of Fine Arts.
Rounds chambered. Safeties off.
We face the wall.
No one’s innocent. Still, one looks twelve, another an old padre… Their stares tear through the blindfolds.
Our weapons rise. I glance at a fellow corporal. He looks away.
Wars are messy, but I didn’t expect to shoot—
Joey thinks he’ll probably be the one to be lined up against the wall when the time comes… Meanwhile, you can visit him at joeytoey.com.
Years had passed since the war, but guerrillas still controlled the city. I snuck through the ruins, hid in long shadows cast by a shy moon.
I heard rubble shift behind me, a gun muzzle pressed at my back.
“Stop,” he said. A child’s voice. Tearful. “Tell me a story.”
The closest Guy has ever been to a war zone was working in a bar on a Saturday night. This is his eleventh 50-word story.
They froze when they realized the dust floating down, piling up all around, was ash from the city’s funeral pyres. “Don’t breathe,” someone commanded. Rather impractical advice for tired, bloodthirsty men. They tore Helen’s dresses into strips, wrapped their faces in the fine linen, and became featureless, rampaging, insatiable ghosts.
Over the years Bob Thurber’s work has received a long list of awards and prizes. His most recent book is a collection of brief stories titled “Nothing But Trouble”. Visit BobThurber.net.
Waiting for the bombers, I turned off the light and the room floated in obscurity. We listened to the buzz of thirsty mosquitoes, the fall of spiders, and the hiss of the melting candles.
The dust whispered in the air and we went deaf, listening to the moon, shining cold.
Azarin Sadegh, a 2011 PEN USA Emerging Voices fellow, and a former student of the late Les Plesko, is working on her 100,000 word novel.
Traps are everywhere. We cannot venture out. We are cornered in this house we called home before the enemy showed its face.
All exits are blocked. Food supplies are dwindling. This is war.
Last night he chased us behind the refrigerator with a broom. Called us vermin.
We are doomed.
Alison Cooper is a UK artist residing in Los Angeles. She loves the challenge of culling words to get to the core, and has had her short stories published in Everyday Fiction and 50-Word Stories.
When darkness fell over the Rappahannock, the guns rested, but fighting continued.
One side fired “Battle Hymn of the Republic”, the other returning shots of “God Save the South”.
They fought until one side played “Home, Sweet Home!” The other repeated. They sang together.
Tomorrow, they’d return to their guns.
Matthew Gregory is a writer and filmmaker living in South Florida. Some of his work can be found at geronimatt.tumblr.com.
The newspapers and newscasts mostly report faceless statistics. But after the war, a letter came. Her brother had survived the blast, but their parents were dead.
“I’m staying with friends now,” he wrote. “And I still get tears in my eyes when I walk by what was once our home.”
Alex dedicates this story to his mother, who received such a letter many years ago.