Written for Flash! Friday vol. 2-40. This week’s prompt was war, and the photo prompt is this black-and-white public domain photo by Burton Holmes of the 1896 Olympic marathon.
Corporal “Bulldog” Bautista’s body was a well-oiled machine. He strutted proudly along the mud-covered road, leading Fireteam Zebra on its daily patrol.
“Private Asim, you’re lagging! Are you tired of my scenic countryside already?”
“No,” Asim panted along on the corporal’s left. “Just… tired, Corporal.”
“Pick up the pace! We’re only halfway there — another thirteen miles before you sleep.”
To his right, Bulldog heard Private Bundok hopping along on bloodied and blistered feet. “What’s your problem, Stripes?”
“Corporal,” Private Bundok asked, grimacing with each pained step, “why can’t we have uniforms? Or weapons? Or food? Or boots?”
“Shortages happen in wartime. Get used to it — and never let an officer hear you complain.”
“There are no more officers,” Asim reminded him.
“No more enemy, either,” Bulldog agreed. “Shortages.”
“Seriously, Corporal,” huffed Asim, “we’re the only ones left. How long will we keep patrolling?”
“Until I receive orders otherwise, Private.” And the machinery of the military rolled ever onward.