• TS document

    I’m working on two novels at once (again…), this is a section from my military sci-fi novel about Nazis and their hidden base in Antarctica. True story, in 1946-47, the US Navy and US Army performed Operation Highjump, a mission to dislodge the Nazis from Antarctica.


    06 July 1945

    Davis Sea, Antarctica

    Oberleutnant Wermuth took a deep drag from the cigarette, relishing the heat in his frozen lungs. After a full month underwater, his boat had reached their objective and he’d ordered the signal sent to the waiting troops. Below decks, resting in the cabin that had once been his, the Führer continued to plan the war with his closest advisors.

    In addition to the Führer, U-530 carried the sum total of Nazi scientific experimentation for the past two decades. Hundreds of boxes, filled with blueprints, plans and in some cases, prototypes of equipment filled the holds where the torpedoes would normally have sat. His boat carried the future of the party.

    They were still two miles from the beginning of the ice, but if the Führer’s plan was to be believed, U-530 could show no signs of run-ins with the floating ice. So now they waited—for what, Otto had no clue.

    He’d been shocked by the order to throw all but a few of their torpedoes into the harbor at Kristiansand, more so when they were ordered to dismantle the deck gun and shove it over the side. Shortly after those tasks were completed, the documents began to appear. A large contingent of Waffen-SS worked tirelessly to load case after case of paperwork and materiel.

    Once everything was loaded, the crew was ordered to the dock. Otto watched in mute anger as eighty percent of his men and all the officers were sent off in trucks, replaced by SS men who reportedly knew how to sail. The remaining sailors, who held specialized positions that weren’t easily replaced, were directed to surrender their soldbüchers, which contained information on their identity, a photograph and pay information. All very strange, indeed.

    Before he departed, the SS-standartenführer pulled Otto aside. The standartenführer ordered him to sail exactly twenty-four miles southwest into the North Sea and surface for an exchange at midnight. The final thing he said before leaving was that the crew of U-530 was not to record a ship’s log for the upcoming patrol.

    The plane that landed effortlessly on the water beside U-530 had been something that he’d never imagined possible. It was hard to see against the dark ocean, even with the half moon above, but what he could see was a marvel of engineering. The plane resembled a kite, similar to what he’d flown as a child in Württemberg. It seemed impossible that something like that could fly, let alone operate as soundlessly as it had when he first spotted it in the sky above.

    He’d almost ordered the men to open fire on it, but held the order as a light began flashing from the foundering plane. This was the rendezvous contact they’d been waiting on. It floated close enough to see several men standing on the top of it, although he hadn’t been able to see how they got there. Otto ordered the gangplank lowered and four men came aboard his boat—correction, three men and one woman.

    He’d been shocked to see the face of the Führer, his hair soaked in the sea spray and his jacket crumpled from the trip. The man had returned his salute crossly and staggered toward the hatch to take him below decks. Rounding out the party was a dark haired woman named Eva, the Führer’s secretary, Martin Bormann and a Waffen-SS officer named Metzger.

    The plane sank into the sea and U-530 followed suit, sailing around the British islands and commencing a few torpedo attacks off the coast of New York as a ruse before making way toward Antarctica. Now they were here.

    Two lights appeared on the horizon and he brought the binoculars to his eyes. They were still too far to see what type of boats the men from ____ sent. He called below to tell the men that their mission was ending and they’d need to transfer the boxes to the boats. The order was repeated below and soon, the Führer’s face appeared at the hatch.

    “They are here?” he asked.

    “Yes, Mein Führer,” Otto replied nervously. “Those lights are the boats from Neu- Schwabenland.”

    “Good.” The Führer slapped him affectionately on the back. “You must carry out the rest of your mission, Oberleutnant.”

    “I will, Mein Führer.”

    The shorter man squinted at Otto. “You do know why you were chosen for this mission, don’t you?”

    “To be honest, no, Mein Führer.”

    Hitler waved his hand to encompass the boat. “This boat has had limited success in the war. Did you know that it has only sunk two ships?”

    Otto nodded. “Yes, I did. She’s been plagued by misfortune.”

    “Bah!” the Führer chopped the air. “That misfortune as you call it will be the crew’s safety net. They haven’t taken part in the sinking of many ships, so they will not be punished upon your surrender.”

    The young captain nodded once again. “You are correct, Mein Führer.”

    “Of course I am. You were also chosen specially for this mission. You’ve been in the U-boat force for how long?”

    “Six years, Mein Führer.”

    “Yes, that’s right. In six years, you’ve never sunk a boat while in a leadership position. This will serve you well when they try you in court. You can claim innocence, ignorant of the war’s ending, and you will be released shortly. Take a woman and remain faithful to our cause.”

    “Yes, Mein Führer.”

    “The key to making this work is that every member of your original crew pleads ignorance and remains silent about the nature of this patrol.”

    The task is much easier since only eight of my original men remain, he thought wryly. “I will ensure that it is done, Mein Führer.”

    “Good. I knew you were the right man for this mission.”

    The lights had gotten much closer and Otto could make out two large flat-bottomed craft that had giant fans in the rear to propel them. They didn’t appear to be touching the water underneath; it was almost as if they rode on a cushion of air instead of their rubber hulls. What an odd contraption, he thought.

    Once the boats were beside the U-boat, they settled down onto the surface of the water and the sound of hidden fans underneath the skirting ceased. Men from the craft scurried across to secure lines and used their own gangplank instead of the U-boat’s to begin offloading the boxes.

    “Remember, Oberleutnant, you chose to ignore the order of surrender from Dönitz. You and your men continued the fight. It is of utmost importance that you not mention the Antarctic expedition.”

    “Yes, Mein Führer.”

    Hitler clapped him on the back once again and then followed a man in a snow-white uniform wearing the rank of an SS-standartenführer. It was an odd sight compared to the normal, deep black fabric of the SS uniforms he was accustomed to.

    The Führer and the other three special passengers disembarked to one of the boats and it then the strange fan noise resumed, raising the boat about a meter off the surface of the water. The large fan in back engaged and the hovering craft shot off across the sea toward the ice shelf.

    Unloading took the rest of the night and U-530 had to sacrifice one of her lifeboats because the remaining craft was full and could hold no more.

    By morning, U-530 was alone in the sea. Otto ordered her back under the waters and began a slow trip to South America. He’d been told to surrender in Uruguay, but he knew that if they did that, they’d be executed in the public square.

    Oberleutnant Otto Wermuth exercised his first and only act of rebellion against the Nazi party and the Führer’s orders. He directed his crew to sail to Argentina instead of Uruguay. If everyone kept their mouths shut, the port of surrender wouldn’t matter.

  • Washington, Dead City

    GNASH and REND

    My “Washington, Dead City” series has been described as a blend of Tom Clancy and Stephen King with just a dash of Dan Brown added for intrigue.
    Available for Kindle, Nook, iBooks, Kobo and in print wherever you prefer to purchase your books.
    GNASH, book 1 is available now: www.amazon.com/dp/B01ACTBBZQ
    REND, book 2 comes out on March 2nd: www.amazon.com/dp/B01AYEQRUI
    SEVER, book 3 comes out on April 5th (pre-order link coming soon)
    Also, I’d love to interact with you on my facebook page www.facebook.com/BrianParkerAuthor

  • Updates!


    I’m hopeful that I’ll be able to share the cover for “Dark Embers” in the next few days with everyone. The novel is coming along nicely, the three story arcs are coming together in the next twenty or so pages and then the climactic finish to the Path of Ashes series! I want to be complete with the rough draft by the time “GNASH” comes out from Permuted on 09 Feb.

    Audiobook production is moving along on “The Collective Protocol” and “Fireside” and I anticipate both being available sometime in Mar/Apr. Unfortunately, I decided to go a different route than planned with the producer for “Battle Damage Assessment” so I’ll need to find a new voice actor for that book.

    I’ve been sketching out some ideas and I’m very excited about my sci-fi noir thriller “The Immorality Clause” which will be the first book in my new Easytown series following a homicide detective in a futuristic world that resembles America in the 1950s when gadgets were all the rage (even though half the time, they didn’t work) — I’ve even began writing a few scenes, but I’m trying to not distract too much time away from finishing “Dark Embers”.

    Packages went out yesterday with some promotional material for my series “Washington, Dead City” to all the folks who volunteered to be a part of it, so check your mailboxes in a few days. Thank you, again!

    Finally, wow. I had no idea how popular audiobooks were, and I’ve only got two of my books available right now… I’ll just leave it at that!

    Thanks for all your support and continued interaction! Oh, and of course: Please help spread the word about me and my writing!

  • Zombie Crawl!

    scary zombie on orange sky background


    Ack! I got so busy with the weather and traveling that I almost blew it! Here’s my post for the BOD Zombie Crawl 2. Links to the other participating blogs are listed after this section. I’m giving away free eCopies of my book “Origins of the Outbreak” so don’t forget to visit the BOD facebook page and the website!

    This is a section from my book “GNASH” which will be released by Permuted Press in February as book one of my “Washington, Dead City” series.

    What’s that? Why are the Brits fighting in Indianapolis? You’ll have to read the book to find out!

    07 December, 1759 hrs local

    North Willow Farms

    Indianapolis, Indiana

    Corporal Saith Walker sat heavily against the wall and wiped the grit from his forehead with the back of his gloved hand. He’d been slogging through this bloody city for three weeks, fighting non-stop against the zeds. Even though he grew up on the outskirts of Brecon, Wales he swore that this was the coldest he’d ever been. His unit fought hard all day long, then slept wherever they could secure while another company moved forward and continued fighting all night, then they would leapfrog with that unit again the next day and do it all over again.

    Along with most everyone in his section, he had developed several illnesses that seemed to plague infantryman throughout history. He had the runs, which sometimes hit him so quickly that he didn’t even make it around the corner for decency before he had to drop his trousers and go. He also had a wet, raspy cough that was worse in the mornings, but his ailments were not any worse than what everyone else in the regiment had, so no one was evacuated out because of their illness. They all smelled horrible, regular hummers, which was worse than anything else. They usually didn’t notice it themselves, but every few days they would get a visit from the Regimental Sergeant Major and the men knew that they must appear absolutely disgusting to him by the crinkle of his nose. The RSM promised that when the offensive was over he’d bring up a few fire engines and have a regimental bath to clean away the weeks of dirt, grime and blood.

    Corporal Walker sighed as he leaned against the wall and was grateful for the momentary reprieve to the constant movement and fighting. He was exhausted and his grollies were hitched up annoyingly into his arse crack. In only an hour, his section would find a nice home, break in, clear it and then get a spot of tea, a plateful of scoff and much needed rest. He was especially excited about the tea tonight. His sergeant borrowed a large batch of a special Irish breakfast blend from a coffee shop that they’d cleared earlier in the day. It had been ages since the men had gotten anything besides the Army-standard Earl Grey. It’s the little things in life, after all, he mused.

    He just closed his eyes for a moment, but before he knew it, his mate Alfie was slapping his helmet. “Let’s go. I’m in the bushes too, but we’ve got about one more turn, then you can break out your bag and get some sleep, aye?”

    “Crack on,” Saith muttered. “Let’s get moving then.” He heaved himself up as he spoke. He was so tired. They’d forsaken most of the normal kit they took on regimental yomps, but they’d quadrupled the ammunition that they usually brought with them. Even with that, there were days when the section killed so many zeds that they ran out of ammunition and needed an emergency resupply. Saith figured that starting off each day, he had at least forty-five kilos of equipment in his pack that dwindled to less than ten as they fought.

    Saith and Alfie edged around the building and came face to face with a shambling zed. Before he could even fire a shot, it reached out and grabbed the poor chap who’d just woke him up. Saith sprung into action and used the stock of his rifle to beat the creature off of his fellow soldier and then fired into the face of the thing once it turned on him.

    “Hold on, Alfie. I’ll get the medic for you!’ he cried to his mate. He yelled for the medic over his shoulder and saw the man running toward him with his kit bag.

    Saith’s sergeant ran up as well and asked, “What’s the SitRep Walker?”

    “Alfie’s fucked, Sergeant. We turned this corner and the zed attacked him. I’m sure he was bitten,” he told his superior. The medic looked over his shoulder and nodded that he had been and pointed to the teeth marks near Alfie’s neck.

    “Shite. We’ll have to evac the poor bastard.” He pulled out his radio and called for the bodysnatchers to come up to his location for another casualty and then called the CO to let him know that the section had taken yet another casualty.

    Saith said a quick prayer for his mate, whom he knew would be dead before dawn tomorrow. Then he cursed his luck at joining the one division in the entire army that was here in the United States fighting alongside the Yanks in the bloodiest battle of all time. He wondered how many more of his friends would be killed before they finished their mission and could return home.


    The Schedule:

    OCTOBER 22 – Thursday
    Band of Dystopian Authors & Fans (Party & Grand Prize Host)
    Jo Michaels Blog (author)
    Rissa Blakeley (author)

    OCTOBER 23 – Friday
    Claire C. Riley (author)
    2 Girls & A Book (blog)
    Emily Shore (author)

    OCTOBER 24 – Saturday
    Kathy Dinisi (author)
    Us Girls & A Book (blog)
    The Voluptuous Book Diva (blog 18+)

    OCTOBER 25 – Sunday
    Casey L. Bond (author)
    THE KATY blog (blog)

    OCTOBER 26 – Monday
    Saul Tanpepper (author)
    Warren Fielding (author)
    The Leighgendarium (blog)

    OCTOBER 27 – Tuesday
    Kody Boye (author)
    Rhiannon Frater (author)
    ER Arroyo (author)

    OCTOBER 28 – Wednesday
    Allen Gamboa (author)
    Armand Rosamilia (author)
    Ethan @ One Guy’s Guide to Good Reads (blog)

    OCTOBER 29 – Thursday
    Kate L. Mary (author)
    aftershockzombieseries (author)
    Eli Constant (author)

    OCTOBER 30 – Friday
    Aria Michaels (author)
    Brian Parker (author)
    Mama Reads Hazel Sleeps (blog)

    OCTOBER 31 – Saturday
    Cindy Carroll (author)
    M. R. Pritchard (author)
    Toni L.H. Boughton (author)
    Digital Dirty Girl (blog)

    To learn more about Band of Dystopian and/or to enter our Grand Prize Giveaway, visit BandofDystopian.com and don’t forget to join the group on Facebook!

  • Melee Weapon?


    I’ve discussed the ideal weapon for the everyday, average person at length with folks and I still believe an aluminum baseball bat is the best choice for a melee weapon in the hypothetical zombie apocalypse.

    Think about it. Everyone’s go-to is to say that they’d use a sword. #1, how many people actually have a sword (that isn’t one of those cheap decorative things that would break quickly)? #2, how many people know HOW to use a sword (it’s not as easy as you think and you’d be more likely to injure yourself or your team as you swing, thrust, put it in a scabbard, etc)? and #3, what about maintaining it (keeping the edges sharp, free from rust, not cutting yourself again)?

    An aluminum baseball bat is virtually indestructible, can be used as an offensive or defensive weapon, can be slid through the handles of certain types of double doors to keep them closed, doesn’t need any maintenance, no skill required and can be found just about anywhere. I choose a bat…how ’bout you?

  • Sneak Peek of REND for BOD Zombie Crawl!

    Alright, here’s a section from my upcoming zombie thriller “REND” which will be released by Permuted Press in March 2016!

    *Not edited yet!

    22 March, 2349 hrs local

    The Wall Security Checkpoint #17

    Mechanicsville, Maryland

    Private First Class Jeffrey Callahan leaned against the brick that made up this section of The Wall and lit up a cigarette to feed his habit. Man this blows, he thought. He’d joined the Army right out of high school with the expectation that he’d be able to see the world, but he was stuck in the middle of some godforsaken backwoods in Maryland. What really sucked was that all of his friends in the unit had deployed and been in combat. They all wore that sweet combat patch and had also socked away a lot of cash while they’d been deployed. Now here he was, working mind-numbing twelve-hour guard details every day and they didn’t even earn any additional pay. Fuck the Army.

    Jeffrey had volunteered for everything that a first-year soldier could sign up for. After Infantry training at Sand Hill, Fort Benning, Georgia he’d volunteered to go to Airborne School and gotten himself assigned to the 82nd Airborne Division at Fort Bragg. Once he got there, he’d been able to attend the division’s Pre-Ranger course and was approved to attend Ranger School once he got promoted to Specialist, but then this “deployment” order came down and put a halt to all of his plans.

    The division was given a 72-hour notice to deploy to The Wall a little over a month ago and now, here he was. It was midnight and he had another six hours to go on his guard shift. His hand idly brushed against the rough cinderblock surface behind him as he contemplated what it meant. The Wall had been a part of his world for over five years. Construction started when he was in seventh grade, right after the nuclear blast wiped out Washington, D.C., and was completed in a little under a year.

    The Wall allegedly acted as a barrier against the zombies trapped inside. What a load of shit, he mused. He’d watched the “true story” about the nuclear attack on Washington and the part about the zombies was such a bullshit Hollywood addition that most people actually believed that there were zombies behind The Wall. No one in the unit that he’d spoken to “fought” in the zombie war, everyone had been on humanitarian aid missions or construction crews. He’d been on this assignment long enough to realize that nothing was alive in there; it was a total wasteland. The government just made up those stories and manufactured some news footage to keep people from venturing inside to take stuff.

    The detonation point for the nuke was Bowie, Maryland and The Wall completely circled everything within a 38-mile radius of ground zero. There had been a nationwide shortage of building materials as the government procured everything to construct the nearly 250-miles of ten-foot high wall that surrounded the former Washington, D.C. area. Through sheer determination and stubbornness, President Holmes was able to get the glorified fence completed using the hundred thousand servicemen and women that were already onsite to fight the “zombies” and provide disaster relief.

    When it was completed, The Wall ran from just north of the Marine Corps base at Quantico, around Leesburg, Virginia up to Mount Airy, Maryland and over to Towson. From there it angled southeast over the Chesapeake Bay and enclosed about a 5-mile wide stretch of the Eastern Shore of Maryland from Chestertown to Easton before crossing back over the bay into southern Maryland. It bisected Calvert, St. Mary’s and Charles counties before crossing the Potomac River back into Virginia. The government had to force the evacuation of Baltimore due to the radiation fallout area and had to relocate the capital to Denver because of the nuke, not the zombies.

    It was funny when he thought about the circumstances leading up to the destruction of the old capital city. Most Americans chose to focus their hatred on the French who’d attacked the U.S. with a nuclear missile instead of on the terrorists who caused the virus that made the French overreact. He was glad that the president bombed that bastard who launched the nuke. Jeffrey had watched a television program in the platoon dayroom before they deployed here that said if the terrorists hadn’t assassinated all those world leaders at the G-8 Summit, then the previous French president probably wouldn’t have launched the missile. He didn’t know about that, but his family hated the French like everyone else in his hometown and didn’t really discuss the terrorists very often.

    Private Callahan exhaled a lungful of smoke into the night air. He was glad that they’d finally set up a small shoppette for his unit way out here on the peninsula far away from the action up north. When they first got here, there wasn’t anywhere to buy smokes and he’d run out after a week. For two weeks after that soldiers were trying all sorts of shit to replicate that nicotine high without any success. He was only a private, so he didn’t know all the details, but apparently his battalion was replacing a platoon-sized element out here in St. Mary’s County so the group hadn’t needed as much support as his entire unit did now.

    Besides guarding the only gate on the peninsula and ensuring that no trespassers tried to sneak past The Wall, the battalion was also responsible for tearing down any remaining man-made structures on the peninsula. The government had mandated that there would be a three-mile wide clear zone around the outside of The Wall. That meant that every home, business and man-made object—except for roads and sidewalks—had to be torn down and removed to further encourage citizens to stay away from the irradiated area. The remainder of the peninsula in St. Mary’s was declared a wildlife reserve and had to be completely cleared of all structures.

    A strange sound coming from the direction of the company command post startled him from his reverie about The Wall. He leveled his M-4 rifle towards the darkness and called out the challenge word.

    “Put that goddamned thing down before you hurt someone, Private,” a gravelly voice echoed from the night.

    Jeffrey relaxed his grip on the rifle and let it rest on the sling while he stood at the position of parade rest for his squad leader. “I’m sorry, Sergeant. I couldn’t tell who you were,” he replied.

    “Well shit, that’s an even better reason not to point your weapon at someone,” Sergeant Davis said as his form materialized in the guard shack’s watery lamp light. “At ease, Callahan.”

    The young soldier’s hands dropped from high in the small of his back to a more relaxed position just above his belt. “You’re right, Sergeant,” he agreed.

    “Of course I’m right, Callahan,” the sergeant said. “Who the fuck else do you think would be out here at midnight besides someone in the unit checking up on you?”

    “I don’t know, Sergeant,” the private answered dejectedly. “The CO gave that briefing about the treasure hunters going into the city and how it was our responsibility to keep them out.”

    “Listen here kid, that’s up north near Baltimore and closer to Washington. There’s not dick going on down here in Mechanicsville, ya hear me?”

    “Yes, Sergeant. But the CO said—”

    Sergeant Davis cut him off, “The CO is a smart guy, but he’s got no common sense. That directive to stop people from entering The Wall was a division-wide order. It wasn’t meant for us down here. Look, someone would have to avoid the Navy patrols just to get across the Potomac or the Chesapeake to the peninsula, then they’d have to hike four or five miles from wherever they hid their boat just to make it to this gate. Hell, the entire battalion is spread out over the rest of this peninsula clearing out all the structures so this place can be a park one day.

    “I don’t care what the Old Man said,” the noncommissioned officer continued. “There’s nobody coming around this guard shack. Hell, why do you think we only have one person on duty at a time? It ain’t outta the kindness of the CO’s heart. It’s because there’s literally no reason to waste manpower here when we can use the rest of the company to assist with the tear down of the abandoned towns. Understand?”

    “Yes, Sergeant,” he replied. Not because he believed what the man said, but because he knew that’s what his squad leader wanted to hear. He was certain that the bank on the other side of The Wall would make a lucrative score for anyone who made the effort to get to it.

    “I’m gonna turn in for the night,” Sergeant Davis stated. “I just came out here to check on you and make sure you were alright. Do you need anything before I hit the rack?”

    “No, Sergeant. I’ve got a full pack of smokes to help keep me awake,” he replied, keeping the fact that he was reading a book on guard duty to himself.

    “Alright. Hey, let me see your 3161 while I’m out here,” the sergeant requested as he gestured towards the chart where every significant occurrence at the checkpoint was recorded. He skimmed over the private’s notes and decided that nothing of any importance had happened.

    “Here you go,” the older man said while he handed the chart back to the private. “Sure you don’t need anything? No?” When he saw Jeffrey shake his head in the negative he turned away. “Okay, I’m headed back to the company area, make sure you write down in the log that I came out here and checked on you, alright?”

    “Yes, Sergeant,” he replied, reaching for his pen. “Good night,” Jeffrey called into the darkness after the retreating form of his boss.

    He scribbled the visit down on the log and noted the time as 0021 hours. The private remained outside of the shack for a few more minutes and contemplated lighting another cigarette but decided against it. Even though they had a shoppette, there was no guarantee that they’d stay stocked up on the essentials, so he tried to smoke them sparingly. He settled into the camp chair inside the shack and picked up his book.

    Jeffrey had only read two pages when a noise off to the side of his post startled him again and he dropped his book to the floor. He stepped out of the guard shack and peered into the darkness. He started to raise his rifle in the direction of a darker shadow near The Wall, but thought better of it. No way I’m gonna make that mistake again, he thought to himself as he pictured Sergeant Davis’ stern countenance. Instead, he rushed to the radio and picked up the handset. He hated the CO’s decision to only have one soldier on guard duty per shift. It would have made the long hours more bearable if someone else was there and he wished for the comfort of one of his friends near him in the darkness.

    He lifted the mike up to his cheek but thought better of that as well. His squad leader was right. What idiot would be out here on the peninsula? He probably just heard one of the deer that ran rampant all over the place since there weren’t very many cars out here to keep the population down. Yeah, that was it, a deer, he convinced himself. God, he’d never hear the end of it if he alerted the company and woke everyone up because a deer spooked him. He carefully set the handset back into its cradle and settled back into the camp chair that served as the guard shack’s only seat.

    He picked up his paperback and opened it to about where he thought he’d been. He scanned a few paragraphs that he recognized and skipped forward a couple of pages until he found the spot where he’d been when he dropped the book. Ah, here we are, Trisha just shot herself and Chuck went to find the gun, his mind murmured. He settled deeper into the chair to get comfortable while he read. A stick snapped somewhere in the woods nearby.

    He dog-eared the page and cursed to himself. As the FNG, he’d been subjected to all sorts of practical jokes and mean pranks, so there was no way that he was gonna fall for it this time. Another twig snapped near the gate and he began to sweat a little. His eyes lingered for a moment on the radio and he shook his head. It was probably that jerk Thompson or maybe even Reyes, but someone was definitely playing a joke on him.

    Jeffrey got out of the chair for the second time in five minutes. Now he was pissed because he was really looking forward to reading that book. What was it with these guys? In school he would have called them bullies, but in the Army culture it was just part of the age-old ritual of testing the new guy until he was either accepted or rejected by the group. He looked out into the inky black darkness but everything outside of the shack’s lamp range was hidden in the night. Another noise near the gate made him snap his gaze from the company area towards The Wall.

    What the heck? he asked himself. I bet those losers are trying to sneak around The Wall and scare me. I’ll show them.

    He crept from the light into the shadow of The Wall and put his back against the rough blocks. He slid along in the direction of the noises, choosing his steps carefully so he wouldn’t alert whoever it was that he was coming. One of the most important lessons that he’d learned growing up in Kentucky was how to be quiet in the woods, so he was confident that he’d be able to sneak up on those lumbering elephants who were making so much noise. His eyes slowly adjusted to the darkness and he began to discern shapes in the night.

    He came up even with the gate and another twig cracked from inside The Wall. “What the fuck?” he whispered aloud. Sergeant Davis said no one was supposed to be in there—maybe I should go call this in, his mind argued with him.

    Something that sounded like an asthmatic trying to catch a breath echoed right near him on the other side of the gate. “Very funny, Thompson,” he said loudly into the night. “I know it’s you. Come on guys, you’re gonna get in trouble for being in there. The CO said nobody was allowed to go inside The Wall.”

    Jeffrey leaned in close to the lead-lined gate and opened the viewport to see where those losers were hiding. The moan echoed into the night again from somewhere extremely close. “Guys? This isn’t funny anymore, come on. Reyes? You’re starting to freak me out a little bit,” he admitted into the darkness

    He pressed his face against the gate’s square hole in an effort to see into the foggy darkness beyond. Two hands shot out of the gloom and grasped his head like a vice. He tried to pull away, but the hands held firm and pulled his head through the opening. Jeffrey began to panic because he realized that if those jerks didn’t quit screwing around his he head would get stuck. “Quit screwing around guys! Oww, that hurts!” he squealed.

    The hands continued to lodge his head further into the gate and he began to blackout from the pressure of the metal against his temple. Jeffrey kicked at the gate, which rattled and shook as he tried to pull away while someone pulled him in. His vision started to show bright bursts of light at the edges and he began to get desperate. Finally he grabbed the pistol grip of his rifle and begged for them to let him go or he’d have to shoot. He jabbed the barrel of the rifle through one of the many windbreak cutouts in the gate and thrust hard into the chest of the person beyond. It didn’t make any difference because they kept pulling hard against him.

    Then something hard scraped across the top of his head and blood began to pour freely into his eyes. That was the last straw, it was self-defense now. With a practiced motion, his thumb slid along the rifle’s selector switch and rotated it from safe to semi and he jerked the trigger, firing into his attacker. The person didn’t cry out in pain and the pressure didn’t relent. The hands continued to pull his head deeper into the off-limits side of The Wall and the weird moaning continued. He panicked and rotated the switch all the way to the 3-round burst setting and he emptied the 30-round magazine into the shape of his attacker on the other side of the gate.

    Finally the pressure eased slightly, but the hands still held on to his head. He tried to pull backwards but was jerked violently forward again. It was enough force to pull his head completely through the viewport. The last thing he saw were several grotesque arms snake out of the night and wrap around his head. The arms twisted in unison and Private First Class Callahan’s head separated completely from his body with the sickening sounds of ripped muscle and burst arteries. The remainder of his body fell lifeless on the safe side of The Wall.

    Back in the guard shack, his radio blared with unanswered demands from the company command post about the gunfire and for Security Checkpoint #17 to report his status.