Bone Dry

As Planet Earth's resources begin to wear thin,
humanity turns to its a favorite hobby.

A story about a soldier trapped in the concrete graveyard of 2040's New York

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1. The Big Apple

"The Dead Spring"

April 19th 2051-13:41-Russian 3rd Tank Corps.

8 Hours before the Drop 

No-one is more brave, in war, than the crew of a tank.

First devised nearly 150 years ago, the tank is a rolling fortress, made to clear the way of infantry, and destroy enemy tanks. And they must do those jobs. Because a Foot-Soldier or a pilot can hide or peel off, but a tank is forever committed to the fight, because a tank cannot run or hide and if it fails, then its occupants will be burned in their own private hell. Perhaps then this is why the World is so fond of the tank. It is the most literal expression of kill or be killed.

 

Groans of twisting metal brought them to a halt on the Manhattan bridge. The hatch slowly lifted free, scattering concrete and dust down the sides of the tank. From it emerged the Captain, wincing slightly as he shifted his weight from his bad leg, and onto the roof of his bruised and battered war machine.

The street was almost completely destroyed in the fighting. Buildings had huge gaping holes like jaws full of glass teeth. One building was leaning over the road, ready to topple. It cast a dark shadow under which the convoy past.

He squinted across the crumbling bridge toward the buildings that were now more like torches, than the offices and schools they had been a few days ago. It was funny, he thought, how much the noises of the battlefield, the distant rattling of guns, boulders of Steel and glass as they fell from rooftops, all sounded like one huge crackling flame.  

"Halt!" he hollered over his shoulder. His voice cracked from lack of use on the long drive. After a moment, the convoy came to a halt

among the ruins of Pike Street. A  soldier tentatively tested the bridge with a boot.

"Shot to hell" sighed the Lieutenant. "no crossing that".

"Sure there is" Replied that Captain, pulling a single cracked binocular from his jacket and putting it to his good eye.

"Get me Makariy"

"Private Redaz, sir?"

"Yes"

While the Lieutenant, struggled over the rubble to find the Private, Captain Koyst scanned the river side for their target.

The Power stations sat on the far side of the river, its was surprising it was still, apparently, open for business. He wondered if anyone was still there, and if they were-he chuckled-they were in for a rather unpleasant afternoon.

For the past three days, they had been rolling around New York, finishing up the targets the initial air raids had missed. When they hunkered down each night, in the remains of another ruined warehouse or sub-way station, they had heard the howling of the sirens, gunshots echoing down the long deserted streets. Not that the days were much different.

"Private Redaz, Sir" called the Lieutenant, banging his palm on the metal to some attention. The Captain turned his gaze from the torrid city.

Below him stood an tired-eyed soldier with papers and maps producing from every pocket of his jacket. He was lean, making his uniform look baggy. His buzz cut had begun to grow out again, they had been in the field so long.  

"Good-afternoon,Makariy" he smiled. "A fine day to go to war"

"Always a good day sir" I replied..

"True...True"

"Where do we stand in the Grand scheme of things?" He was Taken aback when I straightened up, snapped his my together, and gave a rigid salute.

"Sir" I answered, a little more enthusiastically than necessary.

"The fourth convoy have made it to Orchard street, we're just waiting for the Su-35's to fly over and clear our way". Only now did I realise that I may have a tad too formal with Captain Volk.

As he spoke a fighter jet screamed over head and peeled of to the right.

The Captain clapped his hands.

"Speak of the Devil" He chuckled."Climb aboard, Makariy, Corporal Riess says he can't load because he's been shot a couple times! Pah!"  

"Get moving everyone! First rule of the Corps: YOU DON'T MOVE?"

"YOUR PUSHED" Chanted back a dozen voices, reverberating of off the windows. I sniggered, remembering that saying only to well.   

I climbed up onto the Tank next to the gun, the soldier manning it looked less than pleased to be sharing his space. The convoy started up again and the light-hearted chatter was replaced with  more serious checks and sound-offs. reading themselves for a fight. The ground shook. Makariy held tight to the railings of the tank.

"What was that?" someone said behind him.

No talking now,the city seem to have gone quiet, a moments rest from the struggle, just the growls of tank engines and the crunching of broken tarmac under tread. He pulled his P99 from the waistband of his cargo-trousers,cleaned it, loaded it, checked the firing pin, did it all over again.It wouldn't help him if some unseen enemy saw him perched atop an approaching tank, even though it was real now.

Inwardly, I was angry with himself for letting nerves hinder me. If Nine years in Russia's military education system had taught me anything, it was that fear was life's only true opponent.

"One at a time" said the radio, "keep your distance, or you'll be taking your tank for a swim"

As they reached the half way point on the bridge, he heard a groan from below him.

"aw shit" cursed the driver.

No more thank 20 yards away, on the muddy river-side, was the burnt wreckage of an Su-35 Fighter Jet, muddy water lapping gently against its side. It had dug a deep channel in the mud were it crashed, and part of the tail was missing. The cockpit was still on fire, but nothing could be seen of the pilot; the fuselage was peppered with bullet holes.

As they passed, many soldiers took of their caps or thew them down onto the broken wing. My chest tightened. One less of us was as good as one more of them. Be I pushed the feeling aside as he felt a tap on the shoulder.

The Captain had lifted himself up beside him.

"What does this mean for us?" he whispered, as if not to disturb the all-to-short funeral of the fighter pilot.

"It means, sir" I whispered back, looking to the smoke-filled sky.

"That jet up there isn't ours" 

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