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jbishop15
September 30th, 2015, 01:44 AM
Jake was on top of a wall, sitting in a chair, watching the snow fall in front of the sunset. He was at the edge of his seat and his elbows were dug into his thighs just above the knees and his head rested in his hands. He had been here for hours.

He was watching for something. They had taken over this outpost in the initial push and held it through the conflict. They had been besieged many times. Some soldiers jokingly called it Alamo but less and less each day; it wasn't as funny it was when they had a full regiment of men and fuller stomachs.

In Jake's hands was a rifle. He didn't know the name, or the make, or the model; it was a gun that had been in the fort when they took it. It was an enemy gun, made by enemy hands, and whatever they called it was written on the side in a language that was not his own. He'd tried to figure it out, tried to translate the text, but to no avail. Once, they had a combatant restrained in a room below, and they were interrogating the combatant, and Jake had asked the combatant what he meant. The combatant had looked at him, and said nothing, and then spit on his feet. Jake hit him with this enemy gun and then shot him with it.

Lookout duty was supposed to be volunteer work; that way, everyone who was involved really wanted to to do it. But it wasn't volunteer, not really, and it didn't need to be even if it actually was, because everyone here wanted to do it, because here everyone was afraid to die. They all sat upon the ramparts and squinted their eyes and stared out at the landscape, to make sure that nobody attacked them and if they did attack somebody would know about it. A watched pot never boils.

Jake had found a pen and pencil, some notebook paper too, down in one of the old officer's rooms. He didn't write much anymore, and nobody ever sent physical letters anymore, but he wanted to write something down. He tried to remember his favorite Bible story, but couldn't think of one. He tried to remember his favorite short story, and couldn't remember enough of it to write down. He wrote down quotes, and then he wrote down ideas, and then he wrote down dreams. He had stacks of paper in his quarters, and the man he shared it with was kind and didn't make him throw them away, like most everyone would've. One night, Jake had a nightmare, and he saw himself laying in the snow, unable to write, and his papers were scattered around him in the wind.

Jake had volunteered for lookout duty the last five nights in a row.

"You want a break?" Damian said, holding up a cup of hot coffee. Jake hadn't heard him come up the ladder, and didn't look at him, but held out his hand and took the coffee from him.

"Thanks," Jake said, his voice cracking, unused for so long.

"You want a break?" Damian said, less asking now, more telling. Jake shook his head.

"I want to stay."

"Other people want to be up here, too."

"Tell them they can have tomorrow."

Damian looked at Jake, who was gripping tightly on the rifle, unaware of his own white knuckles. Jake looked up at him, finally, but said nothing, and Damian shrugged, and went down the ladder and left Jake alone. Jake looked back across the snow, and there was nobody. He made sure of that. He was sure of that. He had been up here for five nights, and he kept everyone safe. He would come down the next day and write again. Or maybe the next.

He took a sip of coffee. He looked out over the snow.

Harper J. Cole
October 3rd, 2015, 01:40 PM
A nice piece of flash fiction; you captured the mood well, which is important for works of this brevity.

A few minor nits ...


They had been sieged many times.

I think this should be besieged.


He made sure of that. He was sure of that.

This is a little awkward to read; perhaps just use one of these lines and not the other.


He watched out over the snow.

'Looked out' or 'gazed out'; 'watched' needs a specific target.

HC

Renaissance Man
October 3rd, 2015, 03:52 PM
I'm aware flash fiction is a valuable writing exercise. However this one seems to deserve more attention than just a piece of flash fiction. I found the Bible reference surprising considering Jake shot a man in cold blood.
Or perhaps his transition from a practicing Christian to a steely soldier with an almost entirely hardened heart is what you can expand this to.

I'd like to know where it's set. Who's the enemy. Clearly Jake's human. Is the enemy?

If the enemy's not it would explain why no one can translate their language. Just some things to consider. Usually I don't like narrative. But this is one case where I think the narrator is clearly speaking what's on Jake's mind making the mood blatantly obvious. And that's hard.

jbishop15
October 4th, 2015, 12:18 AM
A nice piece of flash fiction; you captured the mood well, which is important for works of this brevity.

A few minor nits ...



I think this should be besieged.



This is a little awkward to read; perhaps just use one of these lines and not the other.



'Looked out' or 'gazed out'; 'watched' needs a specific target.

HC[/COLOR]

This is all good advice, especially the last bit. I've been trying to figure out what bothered me about the ending, and I think that is it. Thanks!


I'm aware flash fiction is a valuable writing exercise. However this one seems to deserve more attention than just a piece of flash fiction. I found the Bible reference surprising considering Jake shot a man in cold blood.
Or perhaps his transition from a practicing Christian to a steely soldier with an almost entirely hardened heart is what you can expand this to.

I'd like to know where it's set. Who's the enemy. Clearly Jake's human. Is the enemy?

If the enemy's not it would explain why no one can translate their language. Just some things to consider. Usually I don't like narrative. But this is one case where I think the narrator is clearly speaking what's on Jake's mind making the mood blatantly obvious. And that's hard.

Thanks for the response! This is something that I've considered expanding, so I think you re onto something there.

Jcrazy99
October 4th, 2015, 05:12 PM
"Thanks," Jake said, his voice cracking, unused for so long.

I think the "unused for so long" part might be easier to read if left out. Just an opinion. Really interesting work though. looks like you have plenty of advice here to go off of, have a good time writing the story too.