Seven Seconds

He adjusted his hold on the pistol and began to move his finger again.

The flies were almost unbearable. A small squad of men shuffled restlessly in the hip deep swamp. They swiped at the pests, trying to remain as quiet as possible, all except for their leader. The stoic sergeant seemed immune to the insects that buzzed about his face. His eyes were fixed on a path which ran out of a nearby clearing and skirted the swamp.

He didn’t want to be drafted. He was having too much fun playing college ball, drinking beer and barely passing his courses. But then his grades sank even lower from too many parties and too few attended classes. He lost his deferment and his number came up.

During basic, he surprised himself at how readily he took to weapons and hand to hand training.

On the path something moved in the half moonlight. He raised an arm. His men quieted and settled. A line of Viet Cong snaked out of the clearing towards his position. His squad was to remain hidden until the enemy passed. Two squads were deployed up ahead. They would ambush the VC from either side of the trail. His orders were to wait. They’d attack only if the enemy began to fall back.

He hated his orders.

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