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Soldiers of Misfortune



Estimated reading time — 4 minutes

“We knew we were scouting for caves, but didn’t have an exact search location. The Sarge had us pair off and reconnoiter in all four directions. Bradley and Jones were the first ones to lose audio contact, although we could still track their movements on our grids.”

“Munch and Green were next to go. Same pattern, loss of audio, but still registering on the O-watch grid. Everyone seemed to be converging in one place. Charley and I then changed direction to meet them.”

The man in the chair was speaking quietly to his superior. He didn’t keep the fear from coloring his voice or causing it to quaver.

The Captain, himself, was conducting this interview with the Corporal. He wanted to hear first hand of how the death of five of his elite fighters came about. He studied the survivor across from him, letting the man talk freely.

“We were operating under the assumption they had found the caves, and they had. We followed their tracks inside. That’s when we realized we too, had lost audio contact.”

Corporal Bryce’s skin was as gray as the chair he sat perfectly upright in, a testament to his training. There was a glass of water and a pack of Marlboro Lights set in front of him, on the table. He had been given permission to smoke and so far had ignored the cigarettes, though the Captain knew he was a two pack a day man.

“Truth is, we weren’t prepared, sir. It would’ve been nice to know just what we were up against. Bravo company was nearly wiped out because higher brass didn’t give a shit about a buncha grunts. No offense sir, it’s just the reality!”

The Captain noted the bitterness in Bryce’s voice, but gestured for him to go on.

“No one told us these… creatures … were fast, and I swear Captain, I’d never been so afraid for my life as when I first saw one of those… things … hunting me and Charley.”

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“It sucker punches you twice, when you recognize they were once human. The shock of it nearly got me killed. As it was, they took Charley, sir, just up and snatched him.”

Bryce was wearing a pair of protective eye gear, making it tougher for his superior to ‘read’ his face. Since being retrieved from the mountain, Bryce began suffering from photophobia. It had worsened quickly.

The docs, finding no reason for it, thought it might be psychosomatic. The trauma Bryce had gone through, whatever he had witnessed in that warren of caves, was too much for his brain to process, so he went ‘blind’.

Bryce’s rasp of a voice broke into the Captain’s thoughts as he started speaking again.

“I’m not ashamed to say it sir, but I ran then, loosing a hail of gunfire as I went. When I reached the mouth of the cave, I rolled out of the entrance, turned, knelt, and brought my scope up to look through the infra-red, primed to fire. One of those ‘things’ had been chasing me, but I couldn’t see it.”

The Captain could see Bryce was struggling with the memory. He waited patiently for Bryce to continue.

“I… I couldn’t see it, because it was clinging to the ceiling, Captain.”

Bryce stopped a moment to let the shock of that statement settle. He seemed to gather himself, squared his shoulders and continued on.

“That was when I began to hear it. It was soft at first, more a vibration you feel in your gut sir, you know? Rather than hear.”

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The Captain had heard of some odd reports from other companies. Their scouts telling of hearing ‘music’ before they went missing. Bryce was the only one to come back, having experienced it.

“It was… haunting. Hunger and longing, promising you fulfillment.”

Bryce seemed to smile slightly, almost wistfully, before speaking again.

“It was torment, but so sweet it made you crave the caress of it in your mind. To want a consummation with it so deep it bleeds your humanity dry, turning you into a husk of need.”

Bryce spoke with such undisguised lust, that the Captain barely stopped himself from recoiling in disgust.

“It became everything I ever wanted, and was secretly wishing for.”

“It compelled me back into the cave, sir. I don’t know when I had pushed the panic button on the O-watch. Must’ve been on the roll-out. Glad I did though. Especially after I found what was left of Charley.”

Bryce hung his head in solemn remembrance of his friend.

He reached for the water and changed his mind, letting his arm drop back to his lap, after a moment his hoarse voice went on.

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“I don’t remember much after that. Couldn’t tell you how I got the punctures in my leg. Doc said they were at the femoral artery too. If the Sarge hadn’t found me, I’d be a goner along with Charley and the rest.”

“Sarge said I was crumpled there, just barely outside the mouth of the cave, lying on a pile of rock, bleeding out. They found Charley and the rest further down in a strange dirt chamber.”

“Too late though, they were all corpses.”

Corporal Bryce stopped then and looked up at his Captain, his face wearing an unfathomable expression.

Bryce started to rapidly transform. His whole lower jaw unhinged, displaying razor sharp teeth. He reached up and ripped the eye gear off. His eyes, now blazing red orbs.

The Captain’s disbelieving brain was too slow in warning, as Bryce leaped across the table…

“Why don’t you join them?”

Credit: D. L. Henry

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20 thoughts on “Soldiers of Misfortune”

  1. Ended much too suddenly. I like the idea of the cave creature though. While this has clichés throughout, it still wasn’t bad. 4/10 imo

  2. anytime! i am also a beta reader and writer myself, so if you need any tips or need someone to do a quick grammar and spell check i can definitely help out. my info is in the comment section of the beta reader page, but if you cant find it just ask and i can send the info to you.

  3. I actually kind of liked the ending, it was a nice idea. For me, the biggest problem wasn’t the dialogue, but how I couldn’t sense who was talking. Any kind of dialogue tag is good, because being repetitive in the sense of adding a “he said” or “she said” is FAR better than having the reader wonder who the hell is talking. An unknown force is always cool, and it sort of reminds me of a movie I watched, The Objective. I actually do wish this one was a little longer, with more explanation and involvement, like if they were trying to find out what happened to one of their teammates who was killed, and the soldiers who returned are blamed for the death. Then they try to explain how they didn’t kill him and they tell them what they saw and felt and go on from there. I’ll give this one a 6/10 because of the shortness and the dialogue confusion, but don’t let that discourage you. Only let it remind you to do better next time, which I really hope there will be a next time.

  4. Personally, I did not like the ending at all. I felt like it came out of nowhere and was super cheesy. I was interested in the story but it felt like the writer got bored and wanted to quickly end it all of a sudden.

    1. Desiree Lee Henry

      I’m sorry, but when you are in a writing competition that gives you prompts, time constraints, and you need to have your story remembered by 120 other authors since we vote on each others work… yeah… we do abruptly end them sometimes to give everyone’s pieces a chance to be read. This is one of my first pieces after not writing for a looooong while- years. I need a lot of polishing and it was submitted on a whim. Next time I’ll be improved! (Hopefully)

  5. The ending was expected, it was not written amazingly, and it would have been more interesting if it wasn’t being told as a story. It really would’ve been better with Bryce as the narrator in first person, and the end wouldn’t have mattered. 7/10, unexceptional and could use edits. I like the plot, though. The cave creature idea.

    1. Desiree Lee Henry

      Agree on most points- shall have to try first person. I’m not an advanced writer so your critique is quite valuable to me! Thank you

  6. Your title is a play on words that would work better if this was a comedy. In fact, I can see it now… Delta Farce 2 – Soldiers of Misfortune, starring Larry the Cable Guy. Okay, now that I got that particular thought out of my head, let’s move on to the story itself. I enjoyed this one for what it was, a quick little morsel with some good imagery and a fairly quick ending . It’s kind of like ordering your favorite meal at a restaurant; it’s good, but there’s no real surprise with what you’ve gotten.

  7. Saw that end coming a mile a way good sir, still was a great concept but there are alot of grammatical and punctuation errors, as well as a few redundant descriptive words and whether you are in this situation or not they would definitely not allow you to speak that way to a superior officer. Was also a little confused on why you mentioned them hearing music, since it doesnt really fit in with the whole vampire-ish theme.

    1. Desiree Lee Henry

      I’m not good with punctuation and yeah I know the reveal was too easy, am a beginning writer after years of being away. As for the music,, you are thinking classic vamp… but this is more alien, and their Siren song is what lures/beguiles humans… and my next offering will be improved.

  8. This felt familiar and wrong at the same time. It was intriguing enough to make me finish it, but I think the dialog (which was really the meat of the story) was lacking. I have a military background, my family has a military background, and my bf is currently in the military… the way things work and the way they speak has changed over time. I caught glimpses of things my dad (Vietnam era) might have said and then there was a bunch of dialog that looked like it belonged in a B-movie. It was hard to place in time, I guess is my point.

    In all, this wasn’t terrible, I just didn’t like it much.

    1. Desiree Lee Henry

      Am sorry you didn’t like it. It is one of my first offerings ever anywhere and I sent it on a whim. As for the timeframe… I honestly pictured it farther in tthe future…the military aspect came from a writing prompt given to us. Yes, I and most of my fam are Navy, from the Vietnam era. I’m the one who didn’t go but that was because I’m female. The dialogue is pure B movie- it was sort of what I was going for. Again. Am sorry you didn’t like it! Peace!

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