Having slowed somewhat in my writing, a while back I sat down to force myself to write 500 words a night. These are some of those word-salads. Unedited, raw, and just done for the hell of it…
Benz waved his arms and screamed to be heard above the thunder of tank fire as a kamikaze drone tore through the air above the squads’ heads. It screamed through a broken window on the first floor of the admin building behind them, shards of glass hanging from the frame like broken teeth, and exploded with a ‘whizz-thump’ that seemed to pull the very air from your lungs before pulling in the walls and then suddenly hurling them outwards.
“Corporal Hill, get your arse out of that crater and over to sat-com,” he shouted, throwing himself to the ground behind the rubble of a small fallen wall to avoid the falling debris of the admin building. Just as quickly he then regained his feet and sprinted across the open ground towards what had once been a wide car park that had welcomed visitors as they approached the long-abandoned robotics factory.
More drones whizzed overhead, cutting through the billowing smoke that swirled around the tanks as they navigated slowly between the falling buildings. Hill pulled his battle jacket tight around his waist as he lay in the high sided crater, still warm from impact with smoke rising up slowly to join the fog of war that lay thick in the air. God only knew why command had sent them this way, he thought to himself. The bots had been waiting for them – as if they knew exactly where and when they would be there, and if they didn’t get out of here soon those drones were going to finish every last one of them off.
“let’s not make this another San Francisco,” Benz barked as he dived into the crater alongside Hill. Three other wide eyed grunts lay across from him with their weapons clenched close to their chests, probably only 16 years old if they were a day. Cannon fodder. There to serve the war effort.
“Evening boys,” Benz said smiling, eyes wild and steely blue. “Enjoying the war are we?”
All three shook their heads and Benz roared with laughter.
“No shit, they never told you it would be like this down in the caves did they”.
Again, all three shook their heads and seemed to shrink even further down into the crater.
For the briefest of moments compassion flickered across Benz’ face before he turned to Hill.
“I need you to get to forward command and let them know just how royally fucked we are. We’ve lost 80 percent of the battalion and it’s turning into a tank graveyard. Visibility is near zero and we can’t stop those kill drones.”
He turned back to the three grunts that were staring intently and listening to the two senior men.
“Oh, don’t worry lads,” said Benz, flashing them a thumbs up. “I’m pretty sure it will be just fine.”
The recruits nodded once more as Benz turned back to hill.
“It probably isn’t going to be fine,” he said as quietly as he could through the din of explosions and gun fire that rang all around.
Hill knew full well fine was the very last thing things were going to be.
“Can you do that for me?” Benz asked, not focussed solely on Hill. “Can you get that message to forward command? All other channels are down. We need air cover and exit or we are toast.”
Hill said nothing. What choice did he have he wondered? What would happen if he said no, if he admitted just how terrified he was and how he really did not want to be a corporal and that he did not even know why they were fighting.
“Hill,” snapped Benz, placing a hand on the man’s shaking shoulder. “So, can you do it for me? While I try help protect those tanks. Can you get that message to them.”
Hill stuttered that he could and scrambled to his knees, ready to leap from the crater. Benz was up in a flash and grabbed a handful of the webbing on the back of Hill’s battle jacket and helped heave him to his feet.
“Go,” he shouted and pushed hill up and over the lip of the crater.
Benz scrambled after him to make sure he had got away and as he raised his head over the lip of the crater he saw Hill ripped clean in half as a low flying drone tore clean through him. He didn’t even get to scream, his middle third was a bloodied mist before he even realised and his top and bottom thirds fell to the floor as his blood seeped into the dust and dirt.
Benz slipped back inside the crater cursing, fists crashing into the steaming earth. For a moment he closed his eyes to compose himself, taking in a deep breath and then exhaling, his breath mixing with the smoke and steam.
He looked across at the three boys across from him, huddled close together, terrified and unable to move.
“Is…is he okay?” one of them asked, a pale faced boy with a shock of red hair peeking out from under his helmet.
Benz smiled. “Oh yes, ran like a whippet after a hare,” he said, obviously lying. He’s probably half way there already.
The three boys eyed him up warily. They were young and naïve, but not completely stupid.
“Anyway, “ said Benz. “Which one of you is the fastest…?”