Soldier by Catfish McDaris

A few stars hung overhead like nail holes in a black wall. Soldier looked up and continued walking at a brisk pace toward the barely discernable tracks. His part in the war was always following warily a few feet behind. He was once an elite shadow of a Long Range Reconnaissance Patrol. Chained dogs roamed in the yards of slumbering humanity, growling at the gates of hell. He needed to fight again, to kill to prove himself worthy. Some nights in the waning darkness, Soldier would recall the adrenalin abyss whisper rush, orgasmic sweat soaking his body. Uncontrollable dreams of clean kills and remorselessness stirred an inferno in his loins. Looking around, Soldier saw graveyard emptiness, his heart leaped green mountains of verdure.It had been over twenty five years since he last tasted the exhilaration of a human hunt. The evocation of his demons freed and condemned him at the same time. The tracks beckoned him. He carried his cross every time his eyelids closed, every step he took. Soldier crawled through the underbrush into a distant time. He was miles into Laos, behind enemy lines. Ahead dressed in tan, the uniform of an officer, his target leaned against a thick stand of bamboo, weapon out of reach. Soldier’s knife came alive in his fist. He became a dervish of death. Four humans lay staring in carnage at the jungle canopy with lifeless eyes. The stench of blood filled his nostrils, his mouth stretched in an unholy smile. There was no memory of the three men. The woman officer was like a horror movie, he saw his right hand yank her head back, his left draw the blade in an arc across her soft throat. Her head dangled from a flap, death gurgled crimson onto the jungle floor. Her body slumped , her cap askew, long blue black hair blossomed free like a waterfall at midnight. Soldier stood over her and studied her face. Even death could not remove or erase her beauty. Dark almond eyes stared at him questioningly, accusingly, his tortured soul screamed, he knelt beside her. In a different world he might have been a young man proposing marriage. He raised her tiny exquisite hands to his lips, tears spilled a turmoil of hate and love. Soldier heard voices.“Hey mister, have you got a cigarette?” a girl asked. He looked in the direction of the voice, he was back.Two lovely ladies were looking at him inquisitively. Soldier offered them two of his smokes. They lit up, their lipstick bright on the filters.“Some men are after us, can you help us? We need a place to hide.” He looked deep into their eyes. “Follow me. We’ll take the side streets.” One of them took his hand and rubbed it against her cheek. The other kissed him on the forehead. Soldier felt the taste of blood inside his mouth. He reached inside his jacket for his knife, where it had lain like a scar for too many years.

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