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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Control (01/30/06)

TITLE: Who's in Control?
By dub W


I looked at my watch; it had been an hour since the Captain gave our patrol front control. A flare lit the night sky. My men and I sunk lower into the trench. In seconds we would probably hear the explosions in the mine field, and then we would raise up and target the men, women, and children climbing through the razor-wire. We waited.

“Sarge, when?”

“Hush, Ollie, you’ll know the signal.” Oliver Mason was a new body in our short patrol; fresh out of high school and thirty days out of basic. He was a big kid, so we strapped him with an M-60, and two belts of ammunition. With four grenades hanging off of his flak jacket he looked like a metal cow on two legs. He also had a big wad in his back pocket.

“Ollie,” I whispered, “what’s in your pocket?”

“Grenade, Sarge.”

“Man, you fall on you tail and you’ll kill us all, have some self control.”

Nunez the Rat took two steps to the left of Ollie and glared back at his heavily armed comrade. The Rat held an unlit cigarette between his lips, but he sucked on it like a baby’s bottle. Nunez was a slight kid, about nineteen years old, perfect for poking down tunnels. He was always nervous about tunneling, but followed orders. I liked to say he was controlling the underground. I think he was still deaf and stunned from discharging the 45 in a tunnel earlier in the afternoon, but we needed every warm body we could find on the line that night.

I had the Tremor Dog on my right, not a four-legged one, but a man of unusual viciousness and totally uncaring. I didn’t know much about him, except I wanted him next to me. I had seen him rip through a charge of our dark enemy – his M-16 chattering from his right hip and a stolen AK firing from his left hand. He wore the notches on his knife handle like a badge of honor. Often at night he left camp only to return in the morning with another notch. Nobody controlled the dog.

Reynolds, the lieutenant, was on the end of the row with Big “O,” the radio guy. They were both new, simply replacements for body bags. I think Reynolds got a commission from a cereal box, I had spent most of my off minutes teaching him the art of surviving. On paper, Lieutenant Reynolds was in control.

Big “O” the radio guy was a communications specialist. Somebody told me he was a disc jockey before the draft. He controlled our communications back to the line.

The only other member of our team was Liam our forward man. He was buried under some brush - just before the wire. If the perimeter was breached he was to sit up with the 50 and begin shooting from the rear. Hopefully, his friendly fire would not find one of us. He controlled the back side. Also, if we were all down, he was to run to our line before the enemy caught him.

The sparks from the flare descended from the sky. I peeked through my scope at the wire, nothing was moving. I could feel my heart rate slow. “Martin Luther” never was in this situation.” I slid down the trench beside Ollie. I could see his eyes peering beneath helmet. Big white circles circled in black grease. He kind of looked like a raccoon.

“Relax Ollie, everything is under control.” I tipped my helmet back.

Nobody heard it coming, nobody saw the sky split, and nobody expected the end. But, there it was, at least for us. I didn’t hear the explosion, didn’t feel my body being lifted out of the trench; indeed what I have said so far had to be told to me later.

The only thing I remember was a voice whispering to me. “Who’s in control now?”

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This article has been read 1037 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Lynda Schultz 02/08/06
If God is the one having the final word here, I doubt that He would be as vindictive as your ending makes Him sound. Other than that, your approach to the subject is very interesting and well presented.
janet rubin02/09/06
Okay, I agree about the end, but... I love your writing. I could really see your characters. Loved the metal cow, the dog and the rest. Funny voice too. Great!
Amy Michelle Wiley 02/10/06
Wow, that certainly kept my attention all the way through. Well done!
Linda Watson Owen02/11/06
You again have the wonderful skill that puts your reader 'right there'! Yes, the ending works for me -- uncomfortably well! Bravo!
Jan Ackerson 02/11/06
You put us right in the action--I wanted to duck! Great writing here!
Cassie Memmer02/11/06
Oooo, excellent ending, in my opinion. Too bad he only found out then Who was in control. Great writing!
Sandra Petersen 02/11/06
I don't normally read stories about any war except the Civil War, but this was so good, I read it out loud to my husband. You developed these characters so well. The only thing unanswered for me was whether he received the answers when he saw the Lord in Heaven or was he in a hospital? It seems from the last paragraph that all perished in the explosion. Maybe I'm just dense. You have definitely crafted a great story here.
Joyce Simoneaux02/11/06
I like this story. I just a slight problem with the ending. I am taking it that he survived since he was told later what he said, but that part doesn't quite fit. Was he "saying" all this out loud to someone before they were hit? However, you described each of your characters in a very vivid and believable way. Who is in control now? The answer to that question was not made clear enough to the reader. All things considered though, it was a good story.
Beth Muehlhausen02/11/06
Excellent drama and character development...breathtaking! Quite the punchline ending, too. Very well crafted!!!