Excerpts of future projects.

This is a special feature on my website. Excerpts, or previews from future stories that I plan to work on. I will be adding new excerpts to this page from time to time. So be sure to visit this page often.

Obliteration. McKenzie Files-3.

 I couldn't resist putting out a small advance excerpt of the next upcoming installment in the McKenzie Files series.   Here's a short preview of Obliteration. McKenzie Files-3. Coming this summer.

 

Colin felt that usual nervous feeling stinging in the middle of his stomach while he was riding in the front seat of the new car that the C.I.D had given he, Diane, and Kelly. Finally we get a vehicle of our own. No more having to depend on shuttles, taxis, or the subway to get around, he told himself. The only drawback to this was having Diane as a driver. An impulsive, bad tempered individual who had just received her driver’s license two weeks ago. Even with the tight safety belt strapped across his torso Colin was still feeling less secure as he watched Diane jerk the steering wheel to the left and right in order to weave in and out of the four lanes of traffic on the streets of Navarone to reach their destination. Colin imagined that Kelly was feeling the same way while he was riding in the back seat. Over the sound of the car’s wailing siren Colin heard Kelly cry out several times as they approached the rear end of another vehicle, then swerved out of the way to avoid a collision.

          I should have gotten my license before Diane, Colin scolded himself. He looked over at her. Dressed in her black T-shirt and jeans she had a broad smile on her face. The white sneaker on her right foot shifted from the brake to the accelerator pedal. The air flow from the open window blew through her long black hair. There was a large laser pistol holstered at her right hip.

          “Do you mind slowing down?” Colin asked. “We want to at least get there alive.”

          “Slow down?” Diane said with a laugh. “We have to get there before these jackasses kill the hostages. You heard the report.”

          “I know,” Colin replied. His memory went back twenty minutes ago. He was sleeping in his quarters back at the military base when he was awakened by a phone call from C.I.D Captain Melony Carter. She informed him that a group of Vendetta terrorists had taken several civilians hostage in an office building and were threatening to kill them and then detonate a nuclear bomb that was hidden somewhere in Navarone unless the government agreed to release a number of Vendetta operatives from the penal moon Taraxis, in the Tacoma system. Captain Carter also reported that one of the terrorists was observed using paranormal abilities. Reploid abilities. And that was a detail that would come to the attention of Colin, Diane, and Kelly. The team known as Silencers.

          Captain Carter told Colin that the terrorists were giving a one hour deadline for their demands to be met. After the deadline they would kill the hostages and then set off the bomb. She also told him that Diane and Kelly would pick him up within the next ten minutes. That gave Colin very little time to throw on his blue jeans, a black shirt, and a pair of white sneakers, and then rush out to the bases’ main gate where a black car with Diane and Kelly was waiting.

          “If we’re going into a dangerous situation then I think I’d rather get killed by the bad guys than by a member of my own team,” Kelly said. He thrust out his hand between Diane and Colin to point at the windshield. “Car, car, car!” he shouted.

          “I see it,” Diane shouted back.

          Colin held his breath as he watched their car make a rapid approach to the rear end of a black car up ahead. Diane jerked the steering wheel to the right and the car swerved into the right lane to avoid it. Colin was hoping that during the excitement Diane would not forget her strength and accidentally rip the steering wheel away from the column.

          Colin exhaled. But not out of a sense of relief. “Diane. Do you see that truck up ahead?”

          “I’m on it,” was her reply.

          Diane steered the car to the left to avoid crashing into the rear end of a blue pick up truck. She mashed her foot down on the accelerator pedal and the car sped up ahead of the truck. Then moved in front of it. The car then came to an intersection. With it’s tires screeching the car made a sharp right turn and headed down the road towards a large crowd of people. The car came to a screeching halt just six feet away from the crowd. Several people dashed to the left and right out of fear of being hit. The momentum jerking Colin’s body forward.

          “We’re here,” Diane announced.

          “We’re alive,” Colin jabbed. He was amazed that they had survived being

passengers in a vehicle with Diane behind the wheel. His heart was still pounding when he looked over at her. Butt was not from a romantic feeling. And they want to train her to be a pilot? he thought.

          Diane reached for a small touchpad at the right side of the steering wheel and pressed a key. The blaring siren was now silenced.

          “Ok. Let’s do this,” said Diane. She got out of the car.

          Colin and Kelly exited the car. Colin took a second glance at Kelly. His blue cut off denim shorts, green tank top shirt, and wearing black sneakers without socks made Kelly look like he was more prepared for a day at the beach, rather than entering a hostage situation.

          They moved through the crowd of onlookers and came upon a police roadblock. A five foot high, blue barrier of glowing energy that stretched across the road between two black, five foot high metal poles. On the other side of the barrier were three white police cars with their red bar lights flashing. Three black uniformed police officers were standing near the cars.

          As Colin, Diane, and Kelly approached the barrier an officer on the other side walked over and held up his hand.   “Sorry. The road is blocked off. Police emergency,” he told them in a stern tone.

          In unison, Colin, Diane, and Kelly reached into their pockets and brought out the black billfolds that held their badges.

          “We’re with the C.I.D. Silencers,” Colin explained. “Lieutenant Copeland is expecting us.”

          “Silencers?” the officer inquired. He reached into his pocket and brought out a small black remote. He pressed a key on the remote and the barrier faded away to allow Colin, Diane, and Kelly to pass.

          They proceeded until they came upon two large, black armored vans that had stopped in the middle of the street. The vans displayed the prominent white letters, S.W.A.T on their sides. In front of the vans were three police cars. Just a few feet away from them was a row of six other police cars. Both vans and the cars had their red lights flashing. There were several uniformed and plain clothed officers crouched down behind the vehicles with their laser guns drawn and aimed at a building several feet away at the right. The S.W.A.T officers were crouched down among them. They also had their laser rifles aimed at the building. Several feet in front of this police barricade was a chaotic scene with dead bodies and demolished vehicles scattered about. The bodies appeared to be that of men and women. And there were also dead police officers among them. The bodies were all dismembered and laying in pools of blood.

          “Maybe it would be a good idea to keep our heads down,” Kelly suggested.

          A wise idea, in Colin’s mind. He crouched down, along with Diane and Kelly and approached two officers who were kneeling behind a police car.

          “We’re Silencers, with the C.I.D, said Colin. Displaying his badge. “Lieutenant Copeland is expecting us,”

          The officer pointed to the left. “He’s over there. I’ll call him over.”

          The officer pressed a key on a small remote attached to his belt, then spoke into a microphone attached to the earbuds that he was wearing. A few seconds later Colin looked to his left and saw the familiar sight of police lieutenant Copeland. A man in his thirties, with a head of bushy black hair. Wearing a black suit and shoes, with a grey shirt and black necktie. He remained in a crouched position as he approached. He was carrying a laser gun in his hand.

          “Silencers from the C.I.D. I haven’t seen you three since the Mertz case,” said Copeland. There was a wide eyed expression of surprise on his face. “The C.I.D sent you to handle this situation?”

          “We’re best qualified for the situation,” replied Colin. “What’s going on?”

          “A group of seven male suspects walked into the lobby of the Universal Industries building and killed the three security guards that were stationed at the receptions station. They then proceeded to go up to the building’s twenty fifth floor where they took a number of hostages. Four officers responded to the alarm that the security guards set off. But they never made it out of there alive. We’ve evacuated the building to avoid any further civilian casualties. So far the terrorists have the entire twenty fifth floor under their control.”

          “I see that S.W.A.T is here,” said Colin, as he pointed to the black vans. “Did they try to storm the building and re-take the floor somehow?”

          “They tried. But their first attempt was a disaster. One of the terrorists has some kind of energy weapon that we’ve never seen before. It’s effect is pretty damn gruesome. I’m sure that you’ve seen the aftermath up ahead.”

Colin raised his head to take another look at the wreckage and bodies. “What kind of weapon could have caused all this damage?” He examined the wrecked cars. Sections of some vehicles were left intact, while other sections appeared to be crumpled like tin foil. “These cars look like they were crushed somehow.”

          “More like imploded,” Copeland corrected. “It’s a hell of a way to die. We lost six officers. As far as we can tell they’re using some sort of implosion beam weapon. Metal, flesh, body armor, personal protection shields. They’re all useless against it. And we have several witnesses that have stated that they didn’t actually see the terrorist using a weapon. But he was actually using his bare hands. Maybe in all the excitement they didn’t get a chance to take a better look. You guys think you can go up against something like that?”

          Colin was starting to wonder he same thing himself. “This falls within our area of expertise. Have the terrorists made any kind of demands?”

          “They’re given us one hour to release several Vendetta agents from the prison moon, Taraxis. If we don’t meet their demands then they’ll kill all the hostages and then detonate a nuclear device that they have hidden someplace in the city. We’re up against a rock and a hard place here. If you have any solutions then I’m all ears.”

          Colin could offer Copeland little in the way of a solution. “This doesn’t make sense. It seems to me that they’re in just as tight a spot as you are. Don’t they realize that their chances of pulling this off are slim?”

          “It’s possible that they do. But it’s my theory that they probably care very little about getting the prisoners set free. This is more about striking fear. The slim chance of getting their people back would probably be a bonus.”

          “How much time do we have before their deadline ?” Colin asked.

          Copeland glanced at his wristwatch. “Twenty six minutes.”

          “That doesn’t give us much time,” Replied Colin. “Have you tried to negotiate with them?”

          “We’ve tried. But so far we’ve gotten nowhere. Our hostage negotiator was speaking to their leader. A smart ass by the name, Brubaker. He’s not bending on his demands.”

          “Then we’ll just have to make him bend until he breaks,” Colin told Copeland. He looked back at Diane and Kelly. He was feeling that all too familiar knot in the pit of his stomach beginning to tighten. It always came with the knowledge that the three of them might be walking straight to their deaths. “Ready?”

          Kelly looked back at Colin. “Ready as I’ll ever be.”

          Diane drew her laser pistol from it’s holster. “Lead the way.”

          Copeland looked over at Kelly, then back to Colin. “Wait a second. You two are going in there unarmed?”

          “I wouldn’t exactly say that,” Colin told him.

          Colin took in a deep breath, preparing himself for anything, and was the first to rise. Diane and Kelly rose up and followed him as he walked past the police barricade of cars and towards the building. They walked past the wrecked cars and the gruesome sight of the dismembered bodies of civilians and police laying on the ground to reach the building’s wide glass doors. The doors automatically opened to admit the three. Colin remained tense as he expected an attack to come at any second. In the building’s wide lobby with it’s grey, stone floor tile they passed by the twisted bodies of four police officers. Their blood splattered over the floor. They approached the black, circular form of the receptions station. Colin peered down over the station to find the bodies of three security guards. They were so twisted and bloodied that he could not tell if they were male or female.

          “This isn’t good,” Colin said in a quiet voice.

          At the left and right sides of the receptions station were two sets of black elevator doors that stood out against the grey stone tiled walls. At the left and right past both sets of elevators were short corridors with doors at the end. In the middle of both doors were signs displaying the words, stairs, in large glowing red letters.

          “Are we going to ride up or walk?” Kelly asked.

          “I’m not walking up twenty five floors,” said Colin. “Then again, if we take the elevator then they’ll probably be waiting for us.”

          Diane raised her laser gun. “Then lets not keep them waiting too long. We don’t want anybody up there to get pissed at us.”

          Colin took in another deep breath. Then they approached the elevators.

 

 

 

The Beast.

This was one of those mornings when Arnie Kelso hated his job. The thirty five year old man took his hands out of the pockets of his white lab coat and combed his fingers through his receding black hair in frustration. He looked around at the six foot high stacks of small cages that flanked him. They were noisy cages, emitting the loud barks, shrieks, and growls from the dogs, cats, and monkeys that annoyed him. Another day stuck in this zoo, he thought to himself. I was supposed to be in research and I end up here. He was thankful that at least the mice and rabbits were quiet. Here at Advance Technologies it was Arnie’s job to manage the test subject storage and disposal room. In his opinion it was not the ideal job for someone who hated animals. In addition to enduring their constant noise and odors, Arnie also had the fond tasks of feeding the animals and changing the paper lining at the bottom of their cages. In his room a total of fifty animals were under Arnie’s care. He would deliver a needed animal to the laboratories up above where it would be used for research.

      On occasion he would have to retrieve an animal that was designated for disposal. No longer needed for whatever experiment that it was involved in. The only part of this job that Arnie liked was strapping the creatures down on his shiny metal table and then injecting them with a lethal mixture of sedatives. Then wait for their lives to painlessly fade away. A well deserved end, in Arnie’s opinion. Considering the fact that some of these savage little brutes will bite and claw at him to resist being strapped down. There was a mutual dislike between them. The final procedure for disposing of a test animal was incineration in the furnace at the back of the room.

      Arnie walked past the rows of cages with their noisy occupants to reach his desk. On his grey metal desk was his computer and a small coffee maker sitting next at it’s right. There was a black telephone at the left. Sitting in front of the computer was a clipboard with a list of Arnie’s work assignments for the day that someone had dropped off. He expected this. He picked up the clipboard and glanced over the list. He had to go up to the labs on the upper floors and collect seven monkeys and twelve rabbits to be euthanized and disposed of in the furnace at the left of his desk. His eyes glanced over to the wall at the large, square, silvery metal hatch to the furnace. Time to fire it up, Arnie told himself. But this was a task that he intended to tackle after he would make and consume a stimulating cup of hot coffee.

      Arnie was about to take his coffee pot and go to the sink at the right corner of the room to fill it with water, when he heard a loud rapping on his door. Who the hell is this? Arnie wondered. I just got here and somebody’s bugging me already. He suspected that this knock would herald a new task to add to his workload. He headed for the door and opened it to find a thin bodied man in a white lab coat with black pants and shoes. He was bald, save for thin patches of dark hair on the sides of his head. He wore round wire frame glasses and a thin Hitler styled moustache that Arnie always found to be laughable. Arnie’s visitor was Doctor Milton Crane. The head of research that worked in the labs up above. Crane was also the most impatient and condescending man that Arnie had ever met. He let out a quiet moan when he saw crane’s face. Crane. The last person that I want to see first thing in the morning.

      Arnie swept his disdain for Crane under a carpet of respect. “Good morning Doctor Crane.”

      Crane did not return the greeting. He handed a paper to Arnie. “Kelso I have a job for you. This is top priority. Here‘s the authorization.”

      Arnie had no chance to read the document before Kelso explained it to him.

      “Project Delta has been terminated. All further research has been suspended and all test animals are to be destroyed immediately. Particularly Subject Twelve.

      Arnie’s eyes widened at the mention of that name. He quickly read over the authorization to confirm Kelso’s story.

      “It’s right there in black and white,” said Kelso. “Signed by Doctor Anders.

      I can read the damn thing myself, Arnie was tempted to inform him. The signature of Doctor John Anders, the director of the Advanced Technology laboratory, was at the bottom left of the page. A nervous feeling began to bubble up within his stomach. “Subject Twelve is pretty dangerous, sir. I still remember that accident with Doctor Terrik a few weeks back.”

      “Don’t worry about Doctor Terrik,” said Crane. “And don’t worry about Subject Twelve. It’s already been sedated will be properly restrained. A couple of security guards will accompany us while we transport it down here on a gurney. You just have your furnace fired up and ready to go when we arrive.”

      “I’ll be ready, sir,” Arnie’s nervous reply. “I’ll have to pull out all the top racks in the furnace to try to make the damn thing fit inside.”

      “Then get to it,” Crane’s blunt reply. “I don’t want any mistakes. We’ll be down in about ten minutes.”

      Crane said nothing else. he turned and headed down the brightly lit corridor with it’s white floor and walls to reach the elevator that would take him back to the upper level. He left Arnie standing at the door, still clutching the authorization in his hand. Arnie could not shake the feeling that he was holding a written premonition for a very bad day. Subject Twelve, he thought. He knew how dangerous the animal was. He remembered the details of Doctor Terrik’s accident. And how his body was mutilated. Arnie turned and rushed back to the furnace so that he can begin to remove the upper racks. We wanted to get this entire job over and done with as quickly as possible.

      After waiting for twenty nervous minutes Arnie decided to pick up his phone and press the four digit extension to the laboratory up above. With the receiver pressed to his ear he listened to a non-stop chorus of unanswered rings. This was his third attempt to contact Doctor Crane or one of the other scientists in the Project Delta lab. He found it to be inconceivable that no one was able to pick up the telephone. And at such a crucial time.

      That jackass, Crane was so quick to have me prepare the furnace for Subject Twelve. Now he’s late delivering the thing. Did they change their minds up there? Arnie saw no point in listening to the phone ring any further. In anger he slammed it down. Maybe something happened, Arnie theorized. Something could have gone wrong. What should I do? Arnie thought that it would be beneficial if he were to go up to the lab and see if he could be of assistance. The sooner that Subject Twelve was here then the sooner he could stuff it into the furnace and get the job over with. Then his day would return to normal.

      I can’t wait for these idiots, Arnie told himself. He stormed out into the corridor and headed for the elevator. At the elevator’s silvery metal door he pressed a button on the panel at the right. The loud mechanical whir coming from behind the door told him that the elevator was on it’s way down. The door opened and Arnie stepped inside. He pressed a button on the panel at the left to take him up to level B. That was where the Project Delta laboratory was located. And with any hope some answers as to why Crane and his team were taking so long with Subject Twelve. But during the short trip Arnie could not shake the feeling that something had gone wrong.

      When the elevator door slip open Arnie was greeted by a gruesome scene. The body of one of the black uniformed security guards was laying face down on the floor in a pool of his own blood. The man’s right arm was missing. There were three long and deep slashes going down across his back. There was blood splattered over the left and right walls. On the floor just a few inches near his head was a shotgun with it’s barrel bent into a sharp angle. Arnie gasp in sheer horror and stepped back into the elevator. He was now being filled with an increased sense of fear. What the hell happened? Something went wrong. I knew it. I knew it.

      The elevator door closed. Arnie pressed the button on the panel to open it again. He was compelled to take a second look at the dead guard. Looking down the corridor there were doors to other labs at the left and right. Further down the corridor made a turn to the right. Past this turn was where the Project Delta lab was located. Propelled by a morbid curiosity and a need for answers, Arnie stepped out of the elevator.

 

 

 

 

 

VIRUS.

November 13, 1965

Jacob O’Malley maintained a calm demeanor and held his head high as he stepped out of his white three story farm house, escorted by two burly police officers. His breath came out as small puffs of fog in the chilly air. A cold breeze blew through his thinning black hair. He was well prepared for this cold weather. Dressed in his heavy work boots, black trousers, and his thick red and blue plaid flannel shirt. But he was not prepared to have his hands restrained behind his back by a pair of tight handcuffs. They pinched into his skin with every movement. A minor irritation in his mind. No less than these two men who flanked him. He held the same opinion for the large group of policemen who waited for him in front of his house. Jacob considered these men to be a laughable bunch, with their black uniforms and their shiny little badges. Standing in front of their white police cars with the red dome lights flashing. Some of them holding shotguns. They were making a laughable show of force. Trying to intimidate him with their petty little tin god authority. Just like the ones who were even now searching his house.

      Jacob was not impressed with any of them. In his mind they could only feign at wielding power. The limited power set by the laws of the land. The same power that fed and clothed them and their families, and dictated that they devote their brief lives working like a swarm of insects to serve an ever growing swarm of masters. Not the real power at his command. The true power of life and death.

      Jacob made no attempt to hide his contempt for these men. “You fools have no idea what you’re intruding upon.”

      Police Chief Joe Burton, a tall clean shaven man stepped forward. He began barking into Jacob’s face. “You still don’t get it. You still don’t realize how much trouble you’re in.”

      Jacob scoffed. “Trouble? And just who in the hell will I answer to? You? You’re just a moth like all the others. Flitting around from one hot light bulb in life to the next. Eventually getting too close and getting burned.”

      “Just like you’ll get burned when the state straps your crazy ass in the electric chair,” Burton countered. “Or maybe you’re not concerned about that. Just like you’re not concerned about all those people you slaughtered. Or both your sons being killed.”

      “Should I be?” Jacob snapped back. “My sons are in good hands. Along with my wife. If your mind wasn’t so limited and closed then you would understand. And as for those rabble. Who the hell cares about them? You? Don’t make me laugh. I I gave their useless lives purpose. And they served that purpose. Any other consideration is insignificant.”

      Burton ignored Jacob’s last statement. “Get his sorry ass out of here! Get his ass out of here before I forget that I’m a cop!” he hissed to the officers while pointing a finger at Jacob. “I just might put you down and save the state some time and money! Get him out of here!”

      The policemen pulled Jacob towards one of the cars. A short chubby officer with a moustache opened the rear door for him to be admitted inside.

      “Helms, Wagner, you both ride with Patterson to the station. The three of you keep a close eye on this freak until you get him fingerprinted, photographed and locked up. If he tries anything at all then I’m ordering the three of you to each put a bullet between his eyes.”

      “Yes sir,” Patterson’s reply. Officer’s Helms and Wagner climbed into the back

seat of the car with Jacob, keeping him sandwiched between them. Officer Patterson slammed the door shut and sat down in the driver’s seat.

      Jacob felt gratified that Burton feared him so much. Assigning three officers to escort him to jail proved that. He looked back at his house as the car drove away. Burton and his men were dispersing throughout his house and property. Like ants searching for discarded crumbs. Let them search, Jacob thought to himself. Let these common men have their day. He was confident that he held the future in his hands. A dark future where this petty little town and it’s common people would be swept clean like a dusty corner.

Ghost Town. Short story excerpt from Dark Corners.

      Yuri and Alexi made their slow trek down the middle of the deserted road while shining their flashlights left and right. Yuri received an eerie feeling as he passed by the rusting, dust covered cars that were left at both sides of the street. And beyond the cars were the houses. All surrounded by waist high vegetation. A few of them had broken out windows and doors left wide open. All of them left empty for the past twenty four years.

      Yuri turned his flashlight to a tree that stood in a front yard. It was taller than the two story house behind it. He walked over to take a closer look, stepping over large chunks of dirt as the ground at the tree’s roots was torn apart. At the left and right of the tree were more of the large holes. What did this? he thought. Somebody fighting with grenades? Dynamite? He moved his flashlight’s beam up along the tree’s thick trunk. There were long streams of dried sap running down along it’s trunk. Yuri poked his finger onto the sap. It was sticky. He brought his finger to his nose and sniffed. The sap had a faint aroma resembling honey. Yuri looked up to the tree’s long, multiple branches. All decorated with the huge leaves that looked as though they were large enough to cover a table. These branches also ended in sharp jagged points.

      Alexi walked over to Yuri. “Are you on a nature study?”

      “I still can’t get over how big these leaves are,” Yuri told him.

      “So then grab a few and take them home with you,” replied Alexi. Tugging on Yuri’s arm. “Let’s go before Ivan comes back and starts bitching about us slacking off.”

      Yuri and Alexi continued walking down the road in their search for the unknown enemy that might be hiding and peering at them from behind the dirty windows of the many houses that they were passing.

      Alexi stopped. “Hold up. I have to go to the bathroom.”

      Yuri looked back at Alexi in disbelief. “Now? We’re in the middle of a search.”

      “I’ve been sitting in that damn car for three hours. What do you expect?” Alexi looked around at the row of houses at his right. He walked towards a house that had large sections of it’s white paint chipped away from it’s wooden frame. The front door, in between two broken windows was wide open.

      “Where the hell are you going?” Yuri asked. “You can’t go here?”

      “I’d rather have a little privacy,” Alexi’s testy reply. He headed for the door.

      “This is stupid. We should stay together,” Yuri pleaded to Alexi. Only to be ignored.

      Alexi entered the house.

      “This is stupid,” Yuri grumbled to himself. “This whole town might be crawling with armed terrorists and he wants to use some dusty bathroom because he’s touchy about a little privacy.”

      Yuri turned away from the house. His flashlight’s beam moved across the row of houses across the street. Then he heard a noise. The faint sound of clanking tin cans. Yuri trained his light on the houses as he took a step closer. He heard the noise again. It came from between two houses straight ahead.

      “Who’s there?” Yuri cried out. Holding his machine gun ready he moved in closer.

      Walking in between the two houses Yuri dismissed the source of the noise as a small animal foraging about in a trash bin. But he had to be sure. The weeds in between the houses were knee high. But in spite of this, Yuri was able to spot something strange laying on the ground. With caution, Yuri stepped closer. He let out a surprised gasp as he discovered that the object was a skeleton. He could make out the skull laying next to it’s arm. Both had a brownish tint. The rest of the skeleton was covered by a sheet of brown material that reminded Yuri of a spider’s web.

      A spider’s web? Yuri thought as fear flooded his mind. He touched his foot against part of the web and found that it was indeed sticky. He conjured images of the American science fiction movies that he once saw. The ones that featured giant mutant insects created by radiation. He conjured the fresh images of the wrecked police car and the guard house. Then he conjured images of himself hanging upside down in a giant spider’s web as the hairy monster creeps closer. Ready to sink it’s sharp fangs into his flesh.

      Then Yuri’s flashlight went out. Being stuck in the dark he panicked. Dammit! Lousy cheap thing! He shook the flashlight hard to try to get it working again. Then up ahead he heard the clanking sound again. Yuri followed his next instinct, turn and run.

      Yuri put the flashlight in his back pocket, then ran back to the front of the house that Alexi went into. In the darkness the house was looking far more ominous. From the open front door he saw no beam from Alexi‘s flashlight. “Alexi!” Yuri shouted.     

      “There’s something out here! I found something! Alexi!”

      Yuri watched and waited. There was no reply.

Dogs of War.

Letter from Sergeant Fritz Borman to his wife, Traudl.)

 

December 13, 1943.

My dearest Traudl,

 

By the time you read this letter I will be settled in my new station on the Eastern Front. Just as I told you in my previous letter, I was one among many lucky candidates who were selected to join the fighting in Russia. I’m trying as hard as I can to contain my joy as I am sitting here in this truck while writing this letter. (You can probably feel the sarcasm seething from my words.) Twenty of us are crammed into the back of this cold truck while enduring this bumpy ride on a road that’s buried under ice and snow. There’s no heat in the back of this damn truck and we’re riding through one of the worst winter storms that I have ever seen. And I thought that the weather was miserable back in Poland. Here in Russia it seems that we stepped into a whole new world.

          Occasionally I pull back a part of this flimsy tarp that covers the back of this truck so that I can look up ahead and try to check our progress. In this God forsaken land I yearn to see us approach anything to tell us that we are still in German held territory. For hours it’s the same thing. The dark sky. Furious winds pushing clouds of snow back into my face. The snow covered road with a multitude of snow covered trees on both sides. A non-stop picture of white. And the damn road never seems to end. I can occasionally get a glimpse of the truck that we’re following up ahead. I heard that this truck only has one passenger. Some damn big shot officer from what I hear. He’s probably riding in the cab where it’s somewhat warmer. While a sergeant like myself gets thrown in the back.

          Our destination is a place called Toluga. A small town forty miles north of Stalingrad. It is my understanding that they have a severe shortage of both men and equipment. That’s really encouraging. I don’t know too much about my traveling companions. A few of them are in no mood to talk. There’s this guy named Paul Eindhoven. At age twenty seven he’s three years younger than myself. I heard him say he also has a wife waiting at home. Sitting next to me is another Sergeant. Aldric Frenzel. With his arms folded and his head bowing forward he’s one of the few in this truck that’s able to sleep during this bumpy ride. he’s a big husky fellow. Taller than me. Looks like he’s in his late thirties. And he looks pretty tough. I hope I can get this guy to watch my back while I’m up here.

          Sitting across from me is Private Rolf Hifler. Now he’s a funny one. Mainly because of his name. Sounds a little too similar to a certain person who lives in Berlin. I heard a few guys joking around about it. That irritates the hell out of him. He looks like the hot tempered, wild eyed sort. If one more person gives him a seig heil salute I think he’d shoot them on the spot. During this ride he was given the official job of guarding the three large jerry cans filled with gasoline that are now wedged between his legs. Two of these cans have no lids. A comforting sight. I can’t wait for the next fuel stop.

          Then there’s this guy, Private Albert Kiska. A small framed little weasel with round glasses and a thick graying moustache. This and the wrinkles around his eyes make him look a little too old to be a private in the army. The friendliest guy I’ve met here is Private Orin Kobler. He’s sitting across from me. He’s also asleep. Leaning against this other guy. That’s good. Gives my ears a chance to rest. I guess every outfit has a machine gun mouth. So I guess that Kobler is ours. This guy talks so damn much that he could probably recite the entire Mein Kaumf in a single breath. When he starts talking he never shuts up and tells you things about himself that you really didn’t want to hear. I suppose that being a machine gun mouth is his way of expressing the fact that he’s nervous. I can’t blame him. We’re all nervous. I’ve never heard too many good things about the Eastern Front. I stopped writing to take another look outside the tarp to see if we were getting close to our destination. All I can still see is the dark, snowy road. It just keeps going on. Somebody threatened to shoot me if I opened the tarp again and let in anymore cold air. I think I’ll try to take in a nap before we arrive. I haven’t been sleeping well lately. Not since I left Poland. I’ve been having bad dreams. I’ll write again.

 

 

With love,

 

Fritz.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

(Letter from Sergeant Fritz Borman to his wife, Traudl.)

 

December 13, 1943.

My dearest Traudl,

 

By the time you read this letter I will be settled in my new station on the Eastern Front. Just as I told you in my previous letter, I was one among many lucky candidates who were selected to join the fighting in Russia. I’m trying as hard as I can to contain my joy as I am sitting here in this truck while writing this letter. (You can probably feel the sarcasm seething from my words.) Twenty of us are crammed into the back of this cold truck while enduring this bumpy ride on a road that’s buried under ice and snow. There’s no heat in the back of this damn truck and we’re riding through one of the worst winter storms that I have ever seen. And I thought that the weather was miserable back in Poland. Here in Russia it seems that we stepped into a whole new world.

          Occasionally I pull back a part of this flimsy tarp that covers the back of this truck so that I can look up ahead and try to check our progress. In this God forsaken land I yearn to see us approach anything to tell us that we are still in German held territory. For hours it’s the same thing. The dark sky. Furious winds pushing clouds of snow back into my face. The snow covered road with a multitude of snow covered trees on both sides. A non-stop picture of white. And the damn road never seems to end. I can occasionally get a glimpse of the truck that we’re following up ahead. I heard that this truck only has one passenger. Some damn big shot officer from what I hear. He’s probably riding in the cab where it’s somewhat warmer. While a sergeant like myself gets thrown in the back.

          Our destination is a place called Toluga. A small town forty miles north of Stalingrad. It is my understanding that they have a severe shortage of both men and equipment. That’s really encouraging. I don’t know too much about my traveling companions. A few of them are in no mood to talk. There’s this guy named Paul Eindhoven. At age twenty seven he’s three years younger than myself. I heard him say he also has a wife waiting at home. Sitting next to me is another Sergeant. Aldric Frenzel. With his arms folded and his head bowing forward he’s one of the few in this truck that’s able to sleep during this bumpy ride. he’s a big husky fellow. Taller than me. Looks like he’s in his late thirties. And he looks pretty tough. I hope I can get this guy to watch my back while I’m up here.

          Sitting across from me is Private Rolf Hifler. Now he’s a funny one. Mainly because of his name. Sounds a little too similar to a certain person who lives in Berlin. I heard a few guys joking around about it. That irritates the hell out of him. He looks like the hot tempered, wild eyed sort. If one more person gives him a seig heil salute I think he’d shoot them on the spot. During this ride he was given the official job of guarding the three large jerry cans filled with gasoline that are now wedged between his legs. Two of these cans have no lids. A comforting sight. I can’t wait for the next fuel stop.

          Then there’s this guy, Private Albert Kiska. A small framed little weasel with round glasses and a thick graying moustache. This and the wrinkles around his eyes make him look a little too old to be a private in the army. The friendliest guy I’ve met here is Private Orin Kobler. He’s sitting across from me. He’s also asleep. Leaning against this other guy. That’s good. Gives my ears a chance to rest. I guess every outfit has a machine gun mouth. So I guess that Kobler is ours. This guy talks so damn much that he could probably recite the entire Mein Kaumf in a single breath. When he starts talking he never shuts up and tells you things about himself that you really didn’t want to hear. I suppose that being a machine gun mouth is his way of expressing the fact that he’s nervous. I can’t blame him. We’re all nervous. I’ve never heard too many good things about the Eastern Front. I stopped writing to take another look outside the tarp to see if we were getting close to our destination. All I can still see is the dark, snowy road. It just keeps going on. Somebody threatened to shoot me if I opened the tarp again and let in anymore cold air. I think I’ll try to take in a nap before we arrive. I haven’t been sleeping well lately. Not since I left Poland. I’ve been having bad dreams. I’ll write again.

 

 

With love,

 

Fritz.