The Cohort of Mist, Fog, and Fire – M.F. McAuliffe

wadewalk the thick
black
cold
hellroar
oh god move! phosphorus
burn
ing meatmist

 

The mist would lie all along the trees in the mornings. Anything could be inside there, in the shadows and the dark. You were out in the open.

The only thing to do was keep moving. Mortar takes out two, three guys at once.

So you keep moving and watching, praying the goddam mist will burn off.

For a while after I came back I’d wake up, rigid with terror, sweating, drenched in sweat; I’d just lie there, paralyzed.

 

boom
ing
burn

 

I never could sleep. Even at my grandmother’s house I’d wake up in the middle of the night and lie there awake while the floorboards creaked.

*

I get here at five, five-fifteen. That early the fog just swallows the campus.

I go to my room and get stuff ready to duplicate, Aristotle, an essay on Cause, maybe, or Effect, then an essay on Cause and Effect.

We start the Literature section with morality in fiction. I ask the kids about their lives and then we do the tragedies, Oedipus, Antigone. After class I do a little tutoring, work out extra reading for the really bright kids. If a kid is failing I’ll go visit the family and find out what the problem is.

*

The great thing is to take it as it comes. Keep your dignity. Keep your integrity.

The Army’s the greatest teacher in the world. There’s only one answer for any question and you learn that answer because your life depends on it.

*

I used to dance a lot, hit the clubs. I loved dancing. But I haven’t been able since I got back. Too much surgery. My wife likes to go out to dinner, so we go out pretty much every night. After that I read till one, two, sleep a little and then come in to school.

*

That early, the fog just swallows the campus. Sometimes around the middle of the day the sun starts to burn through, this greyed and flailing thing twitching in the last of the fog, trapped up there, dim and pitted and guttering. It’s nothing. It’s just a ghost hanging there, half the colour of the moon.

 
 
 
M.F. McAuliffe is Australian, co-founder and contributing editor for Gobshite Quarterly, co-founder and editor of GobQ/Reprobate Books, the author of Seattle, and co-author of Golems Waiting Reduz and Fighting Monsters.
 
 

Categories: Fiction, Flash