Contemporary short fiction, poetry and more

‘The Companion’: chapter 48 (content warning: violence and boy’s stuff)

I need to think.  Now that the enemy guns have stopped firing, I need to take a few minutes to concentrate on what to do next.  There is an answer.  The answer will lie in sacrifice and harshness.  The answer will lie in the Triumph of the Will. 

I have it.  I will tell Brunton to get the men to fall in.  I have some selections to make, and some harsh orders to give.


Wolf  has given his instructions.  They were tough to carry out, but that is what National Socialism requires.  If we are to earn our place in history, I am sure that Wolf’s tactic is the best one.

We seized the advantage of a lull in the battle to get all the men to line up, and we took all their weapons and all their ammunition off them.  We pooled the ammunition according to calibre and then we re-allocated it to picked men, chosen mostly but not entirely from the Racial Guardians.  While we were doing this, we found that a number of the sections had “lost” their machine guns, with no explanation of how this had happened.  Wolf shot a few of these offending section leaders with his automatic pistol.   

Once we had re-formed and re-armed the sections, we had about 1000 men in teams of 5, all fully armed.  The rest of the men we allowed to take their pick of the assault rifles which remained, and they were each given  three rounds.  A few protested, and were shot on the spot. 

The fire in the built-up area is making it pretty hot here, and the smell of chlorine is only just bearable.  We are about to advance into the slight depression between the edge of the town and the enemy.  The cover is minimal, but it should be just enough, especially if we get the men to dig in. 

Wolf  wants the men in three lines, with the line at the rear having the ammunition supply.  He wants the enemy to see the middle and forward lines running out of ammunition.  What the men in these lines do after they have fired their last round is up to them.  They are expendable.  The object of all this is to goad the enemy into mounting a charge towards our position.  If they charge, we will mow them down with machine-gun fire when they are too close to turn back.  The rear line has strict orders to shoot on sight any man who attempts to run away. 

I wish they would stop that bloody music.  It keeps changing with the fluctuating direction of the wind.  One moment, I can hear bagpipes and drums.  The next, nigger drums.  The nigger drums are the loudest.  It sounds as if there are hundreds of them.  It makes me wonder how many men they have playing instruments instead of bearing arms. 

Oh, god, I feel sick again.  What the hell did they give us?  We thought we were immune from any sabotage or rebellion because we could immediately take reprisals against the civilian population.  The problem was that we stupidly forgot to lock the civilian population up because we thought they were working for us.  Wolf  is right: cruelty must never let up.  Compassion is mankind’s worst failing.  The moment you show the slightest sign, not just of weakness, but of lack of brutality, people start to disobey you and exploit you. 

I shudder to think what Wolf  will do to them if he somehow does emerge from this victorious.  


I am looking over the parapet by means of a magnifying periscope.  The remains of Hardboard City are burning merrily, with sooty, orange flames leaping ten or fifteen feet into the sky.  It is very difficult to assess how many of the enemy were killed in the bombardment.  It doesn’t look like that many.  They appear to be moving forward in three lines. 

    They aren’t firing, other than very occasionally, which leads me to believe that they are running short of ammunition.

    I wander if we should charge.  Hellfire.  I hate feeling indecisive.   

    Diggle is standing nearby.  He seems apprehensive, as well he might.  There is a ramp that leads up to the parapet. Diggle keeps looking at it.  He is trying to imagine what it would be like if I gave the order. 

  One of the things I like best about my soldiers, men such as Diggle, is that they have no families yet.  No letters to write.


How the hell did I get here?  I’m on an alien planet, wearing a military uniform, excess dye from which turns my exposed skin green.  My boots have been polished by an Indian seconded to the Gurkhas who refers to me always as “Your Majesty”, no matter how many times I tell him to call me “Sir” or, better still, “Kelvin”. 

    I can’t see any way out of this situation other than by giving an order which will cause some of my men to be killed.  

    I hardly slept last night but for some reason I don’t feel tired.  I was possessed by a demonic aggression which still seethes within me.  I have not felt as agitated as this since my Oxford entrance exam, which I failed. 

    It looks as if they are running out of ammunition, but it may be a ruse.  We have nothing to lose by waiting.  They aren’t going anywhere.  Most of them will already have diarrhoea.  Why can’t we just sit here and wait for them to sink into their own elimination products.

They are running out of ammunition.  They are sitting ducks.  I want to charge them.  I want to impale them.  We outnumber them.  Most of them have already been poisoned.  They are defenceless.  This has been going on for too long.  We can finish this, here, now.  We can execute every single one of them.  They deserve to die.  The most they can expect is a clean death, which is more than they gave any-one else.  Scum.  That is what they are.  Subhuman filth.  When we win, do we simply shoot the survivors, or do we try them?  The leaders – do we sentence them to death, or do we give them what they really deserve?  Do we take revenge for the atrocities they have committed?  The Assembly would never sanction it.  I wonder if I can force a massacre through under my military authority, before any-one has time to think twice about it.  They are scum.  Scum.  Scum scum scum scum scum scum scum scum scum scum scum scum scum scum scum


I haven’t the foggiest idea what Kelvin is thinking, but he looks deadly serious.  He keeps fingering the “send” button on his walkie-talkie.  I know what he is going to say.  I just can’t tell how long it will take him to say it.  The next bit, whenever it comes, doesn’t have a fancy name.  It won’t be called Doormat or Mincemeat or anything like that.  It’ll just be the order.  I can’t bring myself to even think it.  But he can.  



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