Battleground by Russ Porter

Intelligence has warned us that the Red army is dangerously close. Regiments of our soldiers have been ordered to advance toward the perimeter and prepare for battle. Our commander has received news that the Queen herself will attend the mêlée. It has been days since any of us have stood on familiar ground, yet we are all anxious and ready for confrontation. It is what we have trained for, it is our duty. We are born to become soldiers.

I’m not sure how to describe this new land, this undiscovered zone, no one word is entirely sufficient. Peculiar, is how I would begin describing what we have already seen. As to what we are about to experience, I don’t know where to begin. How do you describe something so extreme? We have traveled vast areas of flat terrain and witnessed massive expanses of lush, green vegetation. It appears that this vegetation was uniformly grown to the same height. Improbable as this may sound, I believe this was done intentionally. I have no better explanation. New food sources have been harvested and transported back to the Queen. It is for this reason explicitly, that we are now here. The food!

Ours is a society that takes what it needs. We are not farmers; we are not producers of any sort. We are hunters. When we meet an obstacle, we become warriors, with one goal, one objective. Our strength is our unity. The ability to live, work and die as one. I am one of many warriors. I am a soldier of the Dark army. I am one of only five division leaders. My name is Emmet.

Our scouts have sighted our target. They have also located the enemy: the Red army. They are stronger than we, not in physical size and strength, but in number. They are many. Our instincts drive us to move forward. We will not be kept from our goal. We will prevail or die trying. Our advantage will be our intellect, and strength of unison. We are great and unbeatable as one, yet there is one impediment to our goal; it remains unclear.

Few have made it back to safe havens to report on precisely what they have seen or experienced. There have been astonishing stories describing large masses of force that move with unprecedented strength, brutality and swiftness. It is not the Red army.

We move quickly into position; five divisions from five different directions. We encircle our target: a vast accumulation of food. It has been days since we have eaten. We see the stockpiles and our bellies quiver at the sight and smell of it. We are drawn towards it, near the point of stampede, but we stand ready.

The signal is given and we begin our move. We are near striking distance of the Red army and I see a large shadow move over us. It blocks the sun and begins to cover all five divisions. Without pause it continues and covers the Red army. The temperature has noticeably dropped as a result of the sudden blockage of the sun. There is hesitation and confusion among both armies.

The ground suddenly shifts beneath us. Both armies are thrown down and scattered. We fall, yet the ground is still under us, falling as we fall. We feel ourselves rising, and again, the surface of the terrain is still under us, taking both armies with it, rapidly accelerating. Both armies are taken in one motion. I am separated from my division.

* * * *

With a quick flick of his hands, the man lifted the cloth high above his head and shook it out once more. He folded the tablecloth and kicked at the remains of their picnic lunch strewn on the freshly mowed park lawn.
“I’m sorry Tiff!” he shouted to his wife, who had already started back to the car, upset and crying. “I’ll just leave it on the grass. I’m sure something will come along and eat it. Damn ants!”

Russ Porter lives in Richfield, Ohio with his wife Vicki. He has written several short stories, all slanted towards the supernatural and macabre. The short stories are considered a fun pastime, but his real aspiration is to complete his first novel entitled, Peninsula, a thriller.