The Final Battle, Part IIM. Stanley Bubien
The Steadfast Soldier and Just Cause
Across the country, the call rose: War!
"Finally!" Enneyman saluted the image of his half-deaf king. "A just and noble cause!"
Dutiful soldier, he, Enneyman fought through the years, as both victor and vanquished, yet eternally steadfast for the cause of king and country.
"Chin up, Private!" A battle-hardened Enneyman cried to the recruit, "Pick one of the bastards for yourself, and hit him with all you've got!" With that, Enneyman scrambled up the trench-face, leapt beyond the edge and into the fray.
Such bravery bore him to the very end.
"Target!" Enneyman barked, driving his mechanized monster battleward. "Fire!" he cried, and the Tank's mortar boomed.
"Sir!" screeched the Lookout. "Incoming!"
"Out!" Enneyman ordered, "Go! Go! Go!" He launched himself through the bulkhead as the missile struck.
Reeling beside his freshly-dead vehicle, boots covered in blood, Enneyman eyed the oncoming horde. There, upon a brief rise, fought a hulking figure, muscles flexing and the Green Beret upon his brow flashing in the sun.
"You're mine!" Enneyman grinned, and striding over to the Tank, he ripped a weapon free. With the Gatling gun, Enneyman loosed a barrage of bullets, shredding himself a path of bodies. Reaching the base of the hill, his ordnance expelled its last---but never would Enneyman divert from the target. Dropping the useless weapon, he unlatched his belt, and his blade flashed like a thunderbolt. But a glance stopped him dead.
With a wide, broken-toothed smile, the Beret was waving Enneyman upward.
Enneyman grinned and raised the knife. "Onward!" he laughed, and continued slashing. Fate, however, intervened, and Enneyman's knife became embedded within the jugular of a particularly bony soldier. Thus, bare-fisted, and covered head-to-toe in the crimson of other men, he crested the hill and stood face-to-face with his enemy.
Without hesitation, he leapt---and so, too, the Beret.
The two met midair, the impact resounding like a sonic-boom, and they clasped together in a death-grip, rolling and tumbling into a shallow bunker. Colliding with a wall, Enneyman felt his enemy's breath expel itself in a quick, painful gasp. Taking the advantage, he wrapped the crook of his arm about the man's neck. But in that instant, Enneyman went flash-blind; the ground swept out from beneath him and the roof collapsed upon his head.
At last the final battle fell silent.
Yet, by some miracle, Enneyman remained alive. Hours or days, he knew not, but eventually, his hands cast enough stones aside, and he emerged.
"The sonsabitches nuked us."
Enneyman spun. There knelt the Green Beret, a vision of blood and soil that must have mirrored Enneyman himself. And beyond, where soldiers and mechanized battalions once milled, a barren wasteland as empty as glass lay.
The Beret nodded, understanding Enneyman's expression. "Kinda makes you wonder why." He lifted a canteen. "All this, and for what?"
Enneyman accepted the offer and brought the sloshing container to his lips. But he stopped just shy of swigging. "For me, it was simple," he shrugged. "I mean, I hate peas." And, as his enemy nodded, he kissed the canteen.
Copyright ©2001 M. Stanley Bubien. All Rights Reserved.
Please contact the editor for free text versions of this very short story formatted for e-mail, usenet news, or ftp.