Is There Really Closure Here…?
It’s not very often that I write a story about modern, contemporary life that does not have some sort of military influence. That is probably because I have spent most of my adult life in or associated with the military in some capacity. At the same time many of my writings have some sort of supernatural influence, probably because I have a very strong interest in the subject. Not only is it interesting, but if there is something valid, something factual to the presence of the supernatural, then that tells me that there really is more to the universe than what we see or what science can explain.
Being in the tightening grip of advancing age I find that possibility somewhat comforting.
All of the above being said, I tend to be drawn to stories (and movies) where everything is sometimes not what it seems.
For example, have you ever had one of those days where you have a feeling that something is not quite right? Everything looks normal but it feels like there is something out of place—you are a little uneasy because there is “something out of kilter” in your world. You try but cannot put your finger on it. It feels like there is some unknown truth lurking just out of sight that would explain everything if only you could find “it.”
Rod Serling’s “The Twilight Zone” was good at presenting those sort of visual dramas. Sometimes there is closure to the stories, everything is explained and understood. But once in awhile there is no real closure (just like real life). It may feel like there is closure, but not really. When I think about it, Serling and his show were a larger creative influence in my life than I realized—many times in my writing I try to present the “feel” of a “Twilight Zone” episode.
One of the best examples of such a story where the truth is lurking just out of sight, is one that I have read many times and am still in awe of: Ambrose Bierce’s “An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge” (1890). (In 1962 the story became a short French-produced film that was later shown as an episode of “The Twilight Zone.” It was the only episode not produced by the TV series (Wikipedia).) Bierce was a Civil War veteran (Shiloh, Chickamauga) who suffered a serious head wound in combat. Bierce’s Civil War experience no doubt lent special authenticity to his writing. I have often thought that the enduring mystery of his disappearance in Mexico in 1913 is how he would have liked to be remembered.
So, in my writings I may think (hope) I have accomplished such a Twilight Zone “feel,” but only the readers will know for sure.
“For the Glory Forever and Ever.” R.U.S.H. – Raw Unbridled Stories of Heroism – Anthology, Melange Books, September 2011.
Sometimes there is a blurry division between life and… An Army platoon is holding a combat outpost near Las Vegas. None of them can remember much about their lives before the war, or even the details of the war. Their final battle only hints at a possible soul shattering truth.
“For The Glory Forever and Ever”
Sergeant First Class Dominick Brenner pinched the flesh on the back of his hand. Hard. He didn’t feel a thing. Maybe he wasn’t dreaming, though he hoped he was.
“Riders coming in from the south!” a soldier gasped as he darted into the platoon command post, the CP.
Dominick stared at the back of his pale hand as he told the radioman, “Tell 2nd Squad to give them covering fire.” The soldier spread his hands helplessly, for without batteries even the internal land line between the CP and the fighting positions was useless.
Dominick swore disgustedly and pointed at Private Ernesto Gonzales, a weary looking visitor from 1st Squad. “Go tell 2nd Squad to give covering fire!”
Dominick threw on his MOLLE gear, grabbed his Kevlar helmet and M6 Assault Rifle, and hurried out the bunker exit. Once outside he heard the zip of incoming weapons fire and the short, sharp explosions of impacting mortar rounds. From the perimeter came a steady rattle of outgoing weapons fire and the sharp crack and ‘whoosh’ of mortar fire. He splashed through the muddy rain puddles as he wound his way past the sand bag protected Morale, Welfare and Recreation bunker, the Mobile Field Kitchen, and one of the many reserve ammunition bunkers.
Dominick thought that while they were short of everything else, fortunately the lack of munitions was never a problem.
The blare of an air raid siren sounded across the lonely, rainy outpost. He looked around and spotted a pair of dark aircraft coming low out of the north. The turret containing four Longclaw anti-aircraft missiles whined and swiveled like a hungry beast. With a loud WHOOSH! amid clouds of sand, mud, and oily smoke, a pair of missiles leaped into the drizzling air. Glowing fireballs dropped from the aircraft; one of the Longclaws exploded against a fireball and the other blew up one of the aircraft. The stricken aircraft did a flaming cartwheel across the desert.
The rumble of the approaching jet rolled across the outpost as did the sharper cracks of shoulder fired Shortclaws. A trio of smoky trails raced toward the lone Eurofighter Typhoon as it dropped more flares and veered to one side, then whipped back to its original course.
The Shortclaws exploded against the flares…
SS Hampton, Sr. is a full-blood Choctaw of the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma, a divorced grandfather to 13 wonderful grandchildren, a published photographer and photojournalist, and a member of the Military Writers Society of America. He is a serving member of the Army National Guard with the rank of staff sergeant, with prior service in the active duty Army (1974-1985), the Army Individual Ready Reserve (1985-1995) (mobilized for the Persian Gulf War), and enlisted in the Army National Guard in October 2004, after which he was mobilized for Federal active duty for almost three years. Hampton is a veteran of Operations Noble Eagle (2004-2006) and Iraqi Freedom (2006-2007); he has recently been told that he must retire from the Army National Guard on 1 July 2013. His writings have appeared as stand-alone stories and in anthologies from Dark Opus Press, Edge Science Fiction & Fantasy, Melange Books, Musa Publishing, MuseItUp Publishing, Ravenous Romance, and as stand-alone stories in Horror Bound Magazine, The Harrow, and River Walk Journal, among others. Second-career goals include becoming a painter and studying for a degree in photography and anthropology—hopefully to someday work in and photograph underwater archaeology. After 12 years of brown desert in the Southwest and overseas, he misses the Rocky Mountains, yellow aspens in the fall, running rivers, and a warm fireplace during snowy winters. As of December 2011 in Las Vegas, Nevada, Hampton officially became a homeless Iraq War veteran.
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