The battle rages for a thousand years, until heaped casings stand like termite mounds, until the impassable stone walls of the gulch become bullet-art reliefs, great murals of pain baptized in bloodspray.
There are waves of pacifism, tsunamis of suicides, but eventually the soldiers always return to their purpose:
Take the base. Hold the base.
The sergeant-priest dons the sacred gasmask; they chant the Objective together, readying their gear and their desiccated souls —
White light obliterates the world.
“Minor glitch in the time dilation, recruits,” comes a long-forgotten voice. “But a few extra sims never hurt.”
They begin to weep.
Rich Larson (ANNEX, TOMORROW FACTORY) is a Canadian author born in Galmi, Niger. His work has been translated into over a dozen languages, among them Polish, French, Romanian and Japanese, and his story “Ice” was recently adapted for LOVE DEATH + ROBOTS. Find him at patreon.com/richlarson.
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