Wednesday, February 19, 2014


(A chapter in a story of a war in which a young captain leads a company of drafted known delinquents, all under 18.)


Lara flowed over and down the rubble and leaped onto the soldier. She wrapped her legs around his waist, lifted his chin with her left hand, slit his throat, rode the body onto the pavement and then flowed up and over the opposite rubble pile.

I stood paralyzed, transfixed by the impossibility of what I had seen. She is as quiet as a shadow. First Sergeant Malaski said that, and I had witnessed … Only a small part of Lara’s abilities when she killed the two Phalangists who guarded me and then she slid between me and the one who held my shirt. She cut his throat as easily as you or I breathe.

But this … This silent movement down a pile of rubble, this slicing and then silently climbing additional rubble and the Phalangists did not hear her.

This … And then the four remaining heard their comrade’s body rattle on the rubble. They turned. They saw me, standing at the top of the rubble.

I remembered the submachine gun in my hands; I remembered the safety and the trigger. I fired from the waist, a two-second burst of thirty rounds into chests and shoulders and heads and then I ran down the backside of the rubble, across a smaller pile, between others, down a sidewalk amazingly clear of broken concrete, into a shadow that once contained a door, into a large room, to the middle of the room and into a pile of shadows inside a cavern made of large broken commercial tables and desks.

And I waited.

Ten minutes later, Lara was beside me. Her lips almost touched my ear. “You killed the other four?”


Our heads touched and we talked in voices more quiet than whispers.

She asked, “Have you reloaded your weapon?”

“As I ran. What you did is impossible.”

“I know.”

I heard the smile in her voice. I wanted to see her face. My mind made a picture -- Lara’s short, curled blonde hair and her pale face and the smile of satisfaction. Shadows hid her from me.

I said, “What do we do now?”

“You are the captain.”

I waited a moment. “Yes, but you are the hunter.”

She said, “I will tell you a thing. I am my mother and my grandmother. I am my daughter and her daughter.”

I had wondered … “Your brother’s father was not your father.”

“No. I am David’s mother and his sister.”

“You are older than sixteen.”

I saw the glint of moonlight in her eyes. “I am older than one hundred sixteen.”

She stiffened then and through a gap in the jumbled tables I saw five Phalangists enter the room. They walked from shadow to moonlight to shadow, right to left, toward a stairway. They made no noise.

“We will leave,” I whispered.


“You will lead.”

“As you wish.”

The Phalangists reached the marble stairs and then walked up the stairs, each holding his rifle angled, prepared for battle, yet none knowing his greatest danger sat hidden in a jumble of broken furniture.

Lara and I waited. She touched my cheek. I started to speak, but she pressed a finger against my lips.

After a time, she eased from the pile of shadows. I followed.

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