“I was once told ‘If something feels wrong – it probably is.’ Trust your instincts my friends.
I wrote this story in answer to the following prompts:
Pensitivity’s three things challenge – Verbal – Ado – Dressing
AuthorWorld – First line.
Word of the Day Challenge — Habit
Ragtag Daily Word — Operation
The moon seemed larger tonight. Brighter somehow; majestically hanging in the night sky. Then came the flash.
“Lightnin’! Struth, that’s all we need, Captain Dale. We’ll be lit up like a stripper in a spotlight if we try to complete this operation tonight.”
“That wasn’t lightning, Corporal Alfred. There are no clouds in the sky. Something’s wrong with the moon too.”
The two men lay on a sandbank under the cover of a rocky outcrop.
Dale rolled out and aimed his binoculars at the silvery, bright moon. The celestial orb was pulsing in the midnight-blue sky.
“Foo Fighters?” Alfred suggested.
Dale sighed, “Do I have to give you a verbal dressing down, soldier?”
“What else could it be?”
“Foo Fighters were apparitions seen by many pilots on all sides of the conflict during World War II. They were unexplained nonsense!” Even as he chastised the corporal, he was wondering if a man might be right. How else could the moon be pulsing like that?
“I realise —” Alfred flinched as the lightning came again. “Care to tell me what’s goin’ on and what we’re goin’ to do about it?”
“In truth, I don’t know what is going on. All I know is, the other members of our team, including your brother, have been imprisoned in that compound.” Dale indicated the collection of sandstone structures illuminated by a large fire. “We have no help from other units. No air support. We have to do this ourselves. We have to ignore this weird shit, get in there and save our comrades.”
Alfred saluted with his SA-80 bullpup machine gun; complete with bayonet glinting in the moonlight, “No more ado, Captain. Let’s do this! However, if I see any strange grey creeps out here; I’m shootin’ them between those big, ugly black eyes on sight!”
“Only if I don’t shoot them first.” Dale flipped his night-vision lenses down from his helmet. Taking a breath he signalled and began to commando crawl through the sand and stone. It was still warm from the day’s relentless sun and yet it brought no comfort.
The two men covered the hundred yards like determined rattlesnakes. Flashes continued to emanate from the sky. Each time the men would freeze and listen for a couple of seconds before continuing.
“We made it!” Alfred breathed as their backs found the stonewall of the first building.
Dale was looking at the moon; it seemed to have grown again. He couldn’t be sure but it appeared to be spinning slightly now. “Good, let’s go quietly. Only shoot if you have to.”
Dale crept left around the building. At once the blazing fire in the compound forced him to remove his night-vision lens. The flames were issuing from the remains of a military attack chopper loaded with wood. An old stolen U.S. Army jeep filled much of the gap between this building and the next one over. “I see no movement as yet. These terrorist scumbags must be asleep,” he whispered.
“This is all wrong,” Alfred replied. He slipped around the jeep and pressed himself against the other building. “They always leave guards. I see none.”
“Agreed. This is too easy. I smell a trap.” Dale flattened himself against the wall. Silence fell aside from the crackling fire as he peered around the central area.
The two men looked at each other over the jeep. Exchanging a nod they moved in.
Dale signalled left and right. Moving around his building to the left, he peered through the window. No movement. He slipped through the door. Empty bunks. Guns lay forgotten on the sandy floor. “What the hell!” He breathed as he emerged again.
Alfred had checked his building. He drew a sombre thumb across his neck as he held up four fingers.
“Shit!” Dale took a controlling breath and ran to him. “Did they kill our men?”
“No, but you better take a look at this.” Alfred took him inside what was another rudimentary barracks.
In the flickering light of the fire, Dale saw six military cots – three on each side. Beyond those a small upturned table. Around it, open bags containing rations and munitions.
Alfred nodded forward.
Dale crept between the bunks and came around the table. There in a heap were four dead terrorists. Each had holes burned right through their armour, balaclavas, bodies and skulls. “Ho-lee shit!”
“Bad time for jokes, captain. What kind of weapon does that?” Alfred asked looking as white as a sheet.
“Laser weapon. It has to be. I don’t believe any army has that capability as yet.” Dale eyed some Russian cigarettes on the table. He hadn’t smoked in five years. This place was beginning to make him reconsider the habit.
“Well, somebody bleedin’ does. Look at the state of them!” Alfred coughed, his chest heaving as fear began to set in.
“I know. Stay calm. We’ll check the rest of this place for our comrades and then get the hell out of here.” Dale clapped him on the shoulder and headed out of the building. Around to the right was a large military tent. The imposing form of an AM General Humvee sat inside. The captain knew those could be loaded with missile launchers. Fortunately, this one didn’t have one. Unfortunately, I did have corpses. A terrorist was hanging out of one window. Another lay slumped over the roof.
The two men crept into the tent. Noticing boxes containing rocket-propelled grenades and launchers stacked along one side.
Alfred bent and retrieved a terrorist’s Heckler and Koch G3 machine gun. He pulled the clip, checked, and returned it to the weapon. “Whatever happened here. These guys didn’t get off a shot.”
“Then neither will we. Come —”
A masculine scream cut through the tense air.
Both men flinched as they spun and aimed their rifles back towards the fire.
Dale indicated right as they both charged outside. “I’ve got nothing!” he breathed as they raced around to the next building.
“Me either!” Alfred hit the door and tried it. Unlocked but stuck. Kicking the door open, he stifled a shocked cry. A man fell out and crumpled to the sandy floor.
“Bloody hell!” Dale realised this man had been killed by the same laser weapon. “That’s Alladin, the scumbag who abducted our team.”
“Pity. I wanted to blow his balls off myself!” Alfred stepped over the dead man and checked the building. “Command centre all clear!”
“Roger —” Dale threw himself to the ground. Two terrorists had come running into the fire pit area. Both looking terrified. The captain squeezed off two headshots putting them down hard and fast. “Two deceased, all clear!” he said rising to a knee.
The two men checked the three remaining tents and found nothing.
“Last building. Last chance.” Alfred said as they arrived at the final door. This one had a wooden bar sealing it shut from the outside.
Dale saw a padlock and wasted no time in shooting it off. “I’ll cover you. Check inside,” he ordered having dropped to a knee to watch the area carefully.
“Okay, I’m going in.” Alfred kicked through the door. At once four figures squeezed themselves into corners. “Haha! Good evening, boys and of course Lady Wells. Fancy getting the hell out of here!” Alfred had recognised members of his team with great delight.
“Al, thank the Lord you came when you did,” said his brother Peter running over and hugging him.
“Let’s save the orgy for later and get our arses moving!” Dale demanded although smiling. Above him, the moon was pulsing brighter than ever. Forcing himself to look away, he directed everybody to the Humvee. “Grab weapons, team. Alfred, you drive!”
Five calls of, ‘Roger that, Captain.’ left Dale smiling. That smile only grew larger as a Humvee roared away across the desert. “What the hell happened back there?”
“We were hoping you could tell us,” replied Sergeant Earsham. The team’s sniper.
“Everything was quiet until a strange metallic whirring noise arrived. There was a lot of running and screaming then horrible silence until you came,” put in Corporal Wells. She was the only female on the team but in Dale’s eyes one of the strongest members.
“Whatever the case. I’m just thankful whoever killed them, left you all alive.”
It was then the Humvee’s radio burst into life. “You’re welcome.” It said in a plaintive inhuman voice. The event was so strange; Dale’s team fell into full silence for the rest of the journey home.
The following day, Dale learned there had been no moon last night. It was a new moon cycle; meaning it was invisible. “Unbelievable, Alfred was right. Bloody Foo-Fighters!”
Have a great day!