by Daniel Arenson ©

On a cold night, Private Jordan fled through desert sands. His M-16 rattled against his back, and his helmet fell over his eyes. His heavy boots, too big for his feet, rubbed relentlessly against his blisters. The monsters' howling was close now, so close he almost smelled their foul breath on his nape, stinking like gasoline and putrid olives.

A dark shadow - a dune - rose before him. Using both arms and legs, Jordan scurried to the top. He spun around, faced the half dozen beasts clawing their way up, and aimed his gun. He flipped the switch to semi; he was on his last magazine, and had no bullets to spare. Orange light flared as he pulled the trigger. He shot again, and again, taking them down like carnival ducks. His lieutenant would be proud. But suddenly, the gun jammed. An anguished cry escaped his lips.

Two of the beasts were still alive, clawing up the dune. Jordan dashed down the other side, frantically shoving his finger into the gun, blowing away sand and prying the jammed bullet loose. Suddenly, the terrible putrid stench washed over him, and pain shot through him as teeth sunk into his shoulder. A claw shoved him face down into the sand.

The gun's barrel hit the sand, too, and its hilt slammed up into the beast's jaw. For a second, Jordan was free. He flipped himself over onto his back, and pulled the trigger. A spray of bullets cut open the beast's head. Jordan cursed. The weapon must have switched itself to auto as he fell.

A second monster leapt at him. No bullets were left, but Jordan held the gun firmly before him. The beast lunged itself onto the barrel, cracking open its chest scales.

Jordan rose to his feet and sliced down with the gun, hitting the beast's shoulder. He pulled up and backwards, slamming the hilt into its jaw. The beast howled, and Jordan slammed the barrel right down its gullet. He pulled upward, the aim piercing into soft flesh, then pulled back hard.

Blood and saliva sprayed over his arms. Again he slashed, beating the beast relentlessly. He kept slamming long after it was dead, and then fell to his knees.

Blood covered him, but most of it wasn't his. He had killed the monsters pursuing him, a full half dozen. Him, the private with the clumsy boots and the helmet that kept falling over his eyes. What would the lieutenant say, he wondered with a smirk.

But the lieutenant, and the rest of his platoon, were dead now, ambushed on a trek north. He was the sole survivor, but he had won the battle. Ignoring the pain, Private Jordan rose to his blistered feet, and resumed limping northward.

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About the author, Daniel Arenson:

Daniel Arenson writes to us from Haifa, Israel. This is his first appearance in Anotherealm.

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