Life's a Beach
Tim Ryan took a final drag from his hand-rolled cigarette and flicked the butt away. The last curls of smoke mixed with the steam from his breath as he inhaled the scent of tobacco and ocean air. On the other side of the pillbox sat his squad mate Naveen, who had his eyes closed in meditation but was playing with the onyx elephant charm on his wrist. Both avoided looking out past the Alaskan coastline to the Bering Strait. There was nothing to see but enemy troop transports out there.
A startling hiss of static preceded the transmission from headquarters. Tim’s squad was to hold the beach at any cost; their sacrifice today would ensure that North America would remain intact. Inside a hundred pillboxes along the dreary beach, soldiers began making their final preparations. The invasion would happen shortly before sunset.
The gray troop transports lumbered up to the beachfront and disgorged obscene numbers of enemy troops culled from all corners of the globe. ‘They really do pack them in there,’ thought Tim as his machine gun caught one of the small vessels with its ramp down. He ignored the sporadic fire that whizzed by his emplacement and focused on mowing down clumps of troops. Naveen was using his assault rifle to great effect by picking off stray enemies that stopped to shoot back. But more transports rolled in on the waves.
‘Rocket launcher, two o-clock!’ Naveen yelled over the din. Tim swung the machine gun around to engage while Naveen carefully lined up a shot. Tim heard the whizz of a bullet and then a thump. He’d heard it enough not to bother looking over at his squad mate’s corpse. There’d be time to mourn his buddy later – he had to survive first. The two-man launcher team finished reloading just as the massive slugs slammed into one of the rockets. The resulting explosion killed a dozen soldiers, and panicked others.
The enemy’s confidence was shattered by that blast. What had been an organized, if poorly executed, assault turned into a panicked rout. Tim quickly realized that his remaining ammunition would be best spent on the few soldiers still attempting to advance. He picked off more than one officer who was attempting to coax a shell-shocked group of soldiers onward. And yet more transports appeared on the horizon.
The screeching brakes of a resupply truck signaled an impending resupply during a lull in the fighting. Four privates wheeled a box out of the back of the truck and into the pill box. ‘Bullets!’ yelled one of them unnecessarily at Tim, who was occupied with kicking the latch on the belt feeder until it sprang upwards. He pulled the almost depleted ammunition belt out and replaced it with the new one, careful not to touch the metal with his bare hands. When he was finished, he glanced over at Naveen’s mangled corpse.
‘Could you guys radio for someone to collect him?’
One of the soldiers nodded. ‘I’ll see what I can do. Do you need a smoke, man?’
‘I got a couple still. You wanna smoke with me?’
‘Can’t, gotta get a move on. Good luck!’
Tim returned to his post and smoked another cigarette as he looked out over the water. The few remaining transports had paused their advance and pulled back out of artillery range. It looked to Tim as though the attack would be called off all together. He wouldn’t mind that one bit.
‘This is such B.S.!’ Kevin yelled as the black die landed with six pips showing. ‘You’ve rolled five sixes in a row; do you know what the odds of that are?!’
‘Hold on.’ Raul grabbed his laptop and typed for a moment. ‘It’s something like .013 percent.’
Kevin was not mollified. ‘This always happens when we play with you, John. Now there’s no way that I can break North America. I give up. Next game, we’re using the online dice roller.’ Kevin stomped off to cool down, leaving John to pack up the game pieces.
Tim was astonished to find himself alone on a suddenly empty beach. The transports, corpses, and pillboxes had all disappeared. His surprise was temporary; however, as he himself vanished a moment later.
NOTE: User was awarded 50 Shmuckers for this post. -Rob