Word Count: 1013
Writing: 1 hour 2 minutes
Editing: 25 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour 27 minutes
There they were, just three little boys again lying on the ground and staring into the clouds.
“What about that one?” Ace asked pointing to a large fluffy disc-like cloud.
“I told you they don’t come around here anymore. Not since we won the war,” Ian spat back as only know-it-all little boys can.
“Not if those muckheads’re hiding with new technology, just waiting for us to take our eyes off the skies and them kaboom!” Will lifted his fisted hands and spread his fingers moving his arms outward over his friends signaling the explosion.
“No chance, they already know if they mess with a human again we’ll blow their whole sorry species straight to hell.” Ace’s hands joined Ian’s above their heads though his were in the shape of pistols that shot the alien cloud.
They couldn’t know back then what was to come, they were just boys with dreams of being hero’s. But now men stood in the bodies where boys had once dreamt. Three men in an alien world who knew, they were about to die.
Ace looked at Will as they slowly made their way through the dark tunnel. Through the red armor and smudged visor mask, he saw his captain, his friend, and the little boy who had once predicted the most fatal alien invasion to ever befall planet Earth. Ian and Ace had talked about his prediction plenty of times over, but could never find any explanation other than his paranoia. Will had always been a skeptic, questioning everything. It was why he was their leader, and why the three men had survived all of their missions when so many others had failed. It was good to have a paranoid leader.
“Hold,” said Will quietly, raising his left hand to signal a stop. The men halted immediately, Ace looked over his left shoulder and met Ian’s eyes.
Everything okay? He asked Ian silently, in a way only the most well-known friends are able. Ian nodded at him. Ace nodded back and brought his gaze to the road ahead, trying to pretend he didn’t know what they would find at the end. The ground around them stank like aged cheese and it crept through the seals of their armor. To Ace it was the smell of his own body, already rotting in the ground at the end of the tunnel.
“Let’s move,” whispered Will, moving his hand forward quickly and placing it back on his gun. Moving forward again Ace wondered if they would even get a shot off once the shit hit the fan; or if they would just walk through the door and be killed by unseen assailants. In the end it wouldn’t matter, they were wired with explosives and this planet would be dead with them before morning. Once the last of their pulses stopped…
Ace thought of their childhood again as they walked. They would run through the woods behind Will’s house playing soldiers and muckhesads from sun-up to sun-down. Toting imaginary energy cannons not so unlike the ones they carried now, searching for and destroying hordes aliens, not so unlike the ones they searched for now. It was funny the way life’s little irony’s played out, even galaxies away it seemed to take no breaks.
They were almost to the end of the tunnel now, Ace could feel it in his gut. Instincts pulling his heart’s strings rapidly, preparing it for battle. His trigger finger tightened less than a hair, so at a millisecond’s notice it was ready to pull off a live saving shot. Behind him, he could hear Ian’s breathing slow, steadying, focusing, and he knew Ian could feel it too.
Slowly they made their way around a bend in the tunnel and there it was, barely the outline of a door could be seen. Invisible to untrained eyes, but the three friends saw it; clear as if the sun beat directly down on it from the sky.
“Hold,” Will said again, repeating the previous hand movement. They stopped a few yards from the door, each man a lion ready to pounce. The captain turned to meet his soldier’s eyes behind him.
“You boy’s know as well as I do what’s behind that door,” he paused reading the understanding in his friends face’s. “There is always a chance as we well know. Maybe we swoop in, get the job done, and get out of in time to make breakfast bloody mary’s.” The confidence in his voice was false and they all knew it, but he was the captain, he couldn’t give up.
“If we do the first rounds on me,” Ian said pushing the words out of his mouth ignoring the light, sad crackle that managed to slip out on top of them.
“And fat omelets all around,” Ace said. Silence fell for a second and the men just stared at each other. It wasn’t the three grown men, who had seen more war and sadness that anyone one life deserved, that they saw. They were looking at three little boys, in suits of armor that were far too big and looked ridiculous on their small bodies. Though, not more ridiculous than the oversized guns they carried in their small hands. Just silly boys enjoying a game of soldiers and muckheads.
“It’s been a good run,” Will said breaking the silence. “I don’t know if we’re walking out of this or not, but I love you guys. Thanks for a great ride.” Ace and Ian said nothing simply nodded at Will, sharing the same hope that he couldn’t see the tears welling in their eyes. Will nodded back to his men, the best soldiers and the best friends to ever grace the universe.
“Yee-haw,” said the captain smiling slightly. The men turned and crept the final, silent steps toward to the door. As Will’s foot raised to kick it opened, Ace smiled as he thought one final time about the three little boy’s lying on their backs, staring into the sky at a cloud in the shape of a ufo.