The Third Party
Copyright © 2012 by Alex Rosaria
This e-book is a work of fiction. The names, characters, places, and incidents are products of the writer's imagination or have been used fictitiously and are not to be construed as real. Any resemblance to persons, living or dead, actual events, locales or organizations is entirely coincidental.
All rights are reserved. No part of this book may be used or reproduced in any manner whatsoever without written permission from the author.
THE THIRD PARTY
Their last brigade got destroyed yesterday. He gritted his teeth at the thought of that night. It was an utter defeat, all death. His comrades-in-arms, his friends, were dead in minutes. He only survived because he ran. He balled his hands and looked over his shoulder, the sun rays blinding him. There was no point in going back; they would be waiting.
With each step he took, dust puffed up. Nobody knew how much nuclear waste was mixed into this dirt. Each step he took was more than likely killing him little by little. Looking ahead he saw a field of more rubble where once houses, factories, and other buildings had stood. A little farther down there were patches of dirt and charcoaled stumps of trees stretched out towards an incline. He was sure he would find more rubble beyond the slope, and if unlucky, a sentry, gun-mounted watchtower that would make minced meat out of him.
Looking up the incline, he ascertained the best path to take. He slung his rifle on his back, the belt crossed over his chest. The previous night he had packed light for the assault: standard issue desert fatigues, body armor strapped tight underneath his jacket, and a utility tool belt with ammo pouches and holster. The grade wasn‘t that steep and was manageable for him with his current load.
Dangling from his belt was his empty canteen. He smirked. At most he could go three days without water. While touching his blistered lips, he imagined the agony of dying of thirst. He unbuttoned his jacket to help his body cool down a little.
Brick checked if everything was still in place: half a dozen rifle clips tied together in pairs, his pistol snug in its holster, six more clips for his gun, three grenades, and his bowie knife in its scabbard.
His equipment was Army issue except for the body armor, which he bought himself, and his rifle. The body armor was the latest high-tech, civilian gear available, more advanced compared to what the Army had available for its grunts. Its fabric was made of a material that hardened on impact, but otherwise stayed malleable, and fitted snugly and light to the body. With his sergeant pay he could only afford the chest armor and not the complete body suit.
They had been loaded and stocked for an assault on a Russian base when they got ambushed. It shamed him that he did not even fire one shot; he just fled. The ambushers wore black, and bullets bounced off their armored truck. They came in quick, and it was over and done within mere minutes. Brick shook his head in a vain attempt to shake off the memory.
Climbing up the hill, huffing with each push and pull upwards, the energy seeped out of his body. Had he more food and water in him, he would have crawled up the incline in a heartbeat. Brick crawled over the ridge instead, licking the salty sweat on his blistered lips. It stung, but still felt uplifting, knowing he at least kept some fluids from leaving his body.
At the top, after a ten-foot stretch, it sloped steeply down. As far as the horizon, he saw tree stumps intermixed with patches of rubble where houses had been and roads had snaked the landscape. You could not tell if it was the Russo-Chino alliance that did the leveling or the Army. So many battles had happened that one couldn‘t know for sure. They were senseless battles in a senseless war to control a dying world.
They had destroyed his part of the world, while Russia and China only got partially scorched. After years of secret preparations, the sneaky bastards caught the world with its pants down in a surprise attack. It wouldn‘t stay like that for long; something more terrible was coming. However, the world he and everybody else knew was already gone.
He crept closer to the ridge, hugging the ground so as not to stick out and give any sniper a chance to blow his head off. He inched ahead, his rifle leading the way. The sun stood high just behind him, so it wouldn‘t reflect off his scope, but anyone looking in his direction would see him. He had to be fast, because soon the sun would shift and whoever was out there might spot him.
He quickly scanned the ridges and creases for life and saw none. What he did see was a former lake now filled with mud and a stone outcropping surrounding it. Beyond that, at the horizon, was a wall with sentry towers running a mile apart. A cloud drifted in front of the sun, casting the area in front of him in shadows. Slowly, it drifted away and released the light on the landscape. Something glistered far away. He swung his rifle up and pressed his eye against the scope. A Russian military vehicle was parked under a rock outcropping, hidden from view. It was a scout vehicle, looking for people like him. It was their bad luck he had found them first. Making as little noise as possible, he chambered a bullet.
He scanned the area in close proximity to the vehicle and found the body of a Russian soldier on the ground. Someone might have gotten to them before he did. Only one body, he thought, there had to be more. He looked again, but found nothing. He returned his attention to the vehicle. He couldn‘t see inside the slit in front because the sun reflected on the glass. Brick waited for a cloud to pass in front of the sun or for the sun to move past him. He wiped the sweat from his brow. If fluids kept draining from his body like this, he wouldn‘t last long. It was a good thing he might soon find water on the dead soldiers.
Shade fell over them. He saw some movement behind the slit. A dark face and eyes, a woman going by the shape of the eyes, probably a Cuban. Some of the bastards had stayed friends with the damn Russians even after the Cuban embargo got lifted in 2020. His trigger finger tensed.
Gone World Episode Two (The Third Party) is available at:
To be the first to hear about new releases, sign up for the newsletter.