26 Sentence Story – A to Z – The Deserter

My response to “The Daily Post” Daily Prompt:

The Deserter

Alfie knew that he was in big trouble. Both of his compatriots had run and left him when he fell and broke his ankle. Conscripts to the army, and now deserters, he didn’t really blame them for looking after their own hides. Deserters were usually shot on sight, there was no room for heroics in the military state that was the UK.

Even before the coup, use of tactical nuclear weapons had laid waste to much of the country. Fighting in the streets had done for even more. Great chunks of the mainland were irradiated and lethal. He was lying in a foxhole now, in one of the fallout zones with, by the sound of it, dogs and men searching for him. Imagining the bullets striking his body, he shuddered for a second, and tried to burrow even deeper into the muddy ground. ‘Just pass me by’ he thought, praying for the first time in years to a god he didn’t believe existed anyway.

Knowing how close he was to death, Alfie’s thoughts seemed to speed up. Like he had suddenly recovered from a bad migraine, his mind cleared and he found himself able to think clearly about his options. ‘Make the most of it’ he thought. ‘Nothing is over until they find me.’ ‘Observation, that’s the key to survival’ he remembered the words of his drill Sergeant; he tried to move to somewhere he could see the approaching men. Pain shot through his damaged ankle, he caught his breath just managing to stifle a scream. ‘Quit and die’; another of the Sergeant’s favourites, so Alfie ignored the pain and moved until he could see the approaching men and dogs.

Rebels!. Soldiers always wore some variety of uniform. These weren’t soldiers they were rebels. ‘Unbelievable’, Alfie thought to himself, ‘I might still be saved’! Very carefully he poked his head above the edge of the foxhole. Waiting, still half expecting to hear a shot or a dog bark, instead he got a wave and a hand signal to stay down. “X-Ray papa to Zulu control” his saviour spoke into an old shortwave radio set. “Yes X-Ray papa, this is Zulu Control, go ahead”. Zulu control from X-Ray papa, we’ve found him, tell his two friends they got to us in time, we got to him first”.

(c) Chris Johnson 2013


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