by David Gullen
Mitchell and Kosygyn are arguing again, and as before it is essentially over nothing. This endless, mind-numbing train journey has caused us to bond more like a dysfunctional family than the disciplined unit our superiors intended.
'Enough,' I say. 'Kit inspection is at 1500 hours, weapons at 1520. You'd better get moving.'
The two break off, giving me resentful looks, united now in their dislike for my order. Medium build and height, spiky dark hair and brown eyes: Mitchell and Kosygyn could easily pass for brothers.
'Very well,Corporal,' Mitchell says, turning to Kosygyn. 'Go and find Laumberg and Montana.'
'Sir, yes sir!' Kosygyn snaps to attention, presenting Mitchell with an arm-quivering salute before slouching to the front of our open carriage....
Just at that moment both connecting doors bang open, warm, damp wind swirling at the few papers on my desk. From the engine end, a junior subaltern breezes through, stamps to attention in front of my desk, and hands me a manila envelope with one hand while saluting with the other. He can't be more than fifteen.
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"Just War" is roughly 11132 words.
David Gullen was born in South Africa. Three years later King Neptune baptised him at the equator when his parents returned to England. His novel Shopocalypse, a near-future story of talking cars, shopping, and nuclear war, is available from Clarion Publishing (2013). His short fiction has appeared in various magazines and anthologies. One story was shortlisted for the James White Award; another won an Aeon Award. His collection Open Waters (theEXAGGERATEDpress) appeared in early 2014. He recently coedited the charity SF anthology Mind Seed. David lives with the fantasy writer Gaie Sebold. He is represented by the John Jarrold Agency.