Braving On – Flash Fiction
Tension grew in the camp. A rumor spread like a virus, infecting all of us. Some of us wanted to pack up and move on. It was a better alternative than to stay and face the army quickly approaching us.
“We’ve got weapons and willpower!” Max shouted at the council meeting.
Max was our reluctant leader. The job just fell on his shoulders after Bridge died in the last campaign. Max definitely knew how to stir up a crowd, but he was wrong about one thing. Our willpower was waning fast. We’d all lost friends the weeks before and three-quarters of our soldiers.
“We could always go back underground,” one man suggested.
Max turned his head in the man’s direction. “Yes, Peter, we could always do that. Run and hide like rats in the sewers.” He looked out at the others gathered around the small fire. “Or we can take back this rock!”
We’d been stranded on Antigone for six months now. Our ship had been shot down by an alien race we’d never seen before. All attempts for rescue had failed. Antigone was a small, uninhabited planet in the Dicon 3 sector. Our mission had been to explore the planet and report back to our base on Riala in the Andromeda Galaxy. We didn’t understand these aliens. They would attack and then withdraw for weeks at a time, only to attack again. Their weapons weren’t any more sophisticated than ours and their armies weren’t that numerous. Just small bands that came in waves.
The council meeting broke up with no discernible decision. I walked back to our make-shift dwelling with Max. He was my oldest friend and I hated to see the look of defeat on his face.
“We were safe for a couple of months in those caverns, Max,” I said to him as we sat down on rocks and sipped a java concoction.
“Just because they didn’t find us, Jasper, doesn’t mean they wouldn’t eventually.”
He was right, of course. Since we didn’t know this alien race, we had no way of determining their strategies. I sat my cup down and turned to the workbench. I check the weapons, making sure they were ready for the upcoming campaign.
Max crawled over to his bed and stretched out. He sighed a few times. “Maybe someone else should make this decision,” he finally stated.
“I know you didn’t ask for this job, Max, but you’ve managed okay so far.”
“Yeah, but no one wants to follow a drafted man.”
I understood that attitude. It was the same one that Max fell into years before back on Riala when he’d been turned down for a promotion. The position went to an enlisted soldier who was half the man Max was. It was all about politics.
“No one else rose to the occasion, Max. When Bridge fell out there, you charged on. We would have lost so many others if you hadn’t.”
The half-beat siren sounded. The alien army was just miles out. Max jumped from his bed and stormed out of the dwelling. I followed after him. The entire camp gathered in the middle of our enclosure. There was no time left for debate.
“What’s it going to be? Run and hide or fight?” Max yelled at the others.
No one answered. They lowered their heads and stared at the ground, shuffling their feet in the dirt.
“You cowardly bunch!” I screamed.
“Forget it, Jasper,” Max said and walked back to the dwelling.
I stood there in disbelief. Max was willing to risk it all for this pack of cowards. Sure, most of them were scientists, but still, would they rather die than fight? I turned to walk back to the dwelling when I saw Max return. He had loaded several guns on his shoulders and headed toward one of the tanks.
“I’m not just going to stay here and let them come after us again. I’m taking the battle to them!” he yelled back at me.
“Not without me!” I screamed. I ran to the dwelling, gathered some guns and joined Max in the tank. If we were killed this night, at least we would die as brave men.
©2016 Lori Carlson. All rights reserved.
Each day in May, I will be participating in the StoryADay in May. Here is today’s prompt:
Via Julie – Write a story that includes a sidekick