Saturday, April 14, 2007


Two rows of little red lights are blinking. Twenty minutes ago they were a soothing steady green. Sitting in front of the lights in a military standard plastic office chair a man fiddles with a key on a long silver chain. It is his key. Behind him another key dangles around the neck of a different man reading a book. He ignores the lights.

The glass eye stared into the inky darkness. The air was thick with the greasy smoke of burning oil wells, the soot and spilled oil dying the sands and trees for miles around. The eye was a marvel of mechanical and electrical engineering, jam packed with all sorts of light enhancing wizardry. The eye perched on a rifle that was every bit advanced as the eye, a cunning device engineered to an extreme degree of precision, with an effective range of over two miles. There were no armies any more, just fleeting associations with various factions. The oil supply just wasn't quite what it used to be. A ragged band of of men with guns scurried across the sand, darting from one building to the cover of the next. They were halfway there a shot rang out, a bullet punching through the calf of one in a crimson spray. Crumpling to the ground he writhed in pain, clutching the wound, his cries begging a teammate to break cover and rescue him. It was an old tactic, and the hunter grinned in anticipation.

Shedding its communications satellite garb the kill sat opened fire any satellite within range. Other wolfs dropped their guise, and soon the night sky was crossed with the trails of rockets, multi-million dollar satellites of all descriptions shredded into so many clouds of chaff; a hidden knife buried deep in the technical backbone of the world.

Two keys turned simultaneously, the soft click as they locked into place echoed by hundreds of other pairs across the world. A fingertip drifted across the button, now devoid of the modest cover it had worn for so many years. So clean, so innocent. The finger stabs into the center of the button, its innocence lost forever. An electric trembling runs from it, and the earth moves in response.

One light burns a solid red.

Buried for so long, waiting unseen in the wings, the rocket embraces its destiny. Ascending on a pillar of fire and smoke it was born into a sky already filled with its brethren.

Its motor spent spent the rocket splits open, the warheads nestled in it separating like the seeds of a radioactive flower falling to earth. Bright streaks puncture the clouds, inhumanely straight lines joining heaven and earth, each line terminating in the brilliant light of a sun. The earth was plunged into an atomic fire, turning the oily desert into a sea of glass, and scorching field and forest into ash. The eye, the building, the wounded man and his comrades are all blinked out of existence. New tactic, old battlefield.

The finger lets go of the button for the last time, covered in blood and shaking with terror. Behind it lies a body resting its head on a book, knife resting in its back. Ahead is the cold weight of a gun, and one final exertion from the finger, a final blast of light and heat, then silence.

Robert Alverson



Ryan said...

A grim accurate description of the War to End all Wars, but hard to follow. We both have a very similiar writing scheme.

Im wondering if you put in the sniper thing after reading my "sniper" book.

Mightysinetheta said...

It was intialy written as a mech with AI vs humans with augmentation battle, rather than the sniper. I decided it placed the story too far into the SF/Futurist realm, and went with a more present day sniper instead.