Last month, I buried my nose in several books regarding the Spanish-American War and the Filipino Moro insurgency against the U.S. in the early 20th century. Fascinating stuff that mainly had to do with researching my work-in-progress, but it inspired some flash fiction. The following is one of several flash pieces I’ve been working on lately. Expect them to pop up randomly.
Leaning against an outcrop of jagged limestone, Lieutenant Yoshi Torimoto cursed the August heat of Mindanao. Untold minutes of slashing his guntō through rows of abaca trees left him wet and sore.
Now he caught his breath outside the cave.
Within, the rebellious warlord, Datu Jiri.
Yoshi wheezed lightly.
“Give up, Jiri.”
A string of shouts echoed from the tunnel. It was difficult to make out, but from what little Maranao Yoshi spoke, he was certain he heard the word coward along with something to do with his mother.
Gunfire rattled in the distance behind him. Yoshi’s Raijin company comrades weren’t far behind. He managed a smile. Jiri’s tribesmen were surely getting their due. The datu was next.
If I can only hold out a few minutes longer.
Yoshi yanked off his helmet and held his hand to his forehead. The fever was getting worse.
“There will be no virgins waiting for you, nor Americans to save your hide,” Yoshi continued.
His voice was hoarse, out of focus.
“If you come out without your weapon, you will be shown mercy.”
The mercy of an 8mm Nambu bullet.
Flies and mosquitoes buzzed around Yoshi. He couldn’t remember when he stopped swatting them away.
“I do not require your mercy,” Jiri replied in broken Nipponese, this time as clear as day.
Yoshi immediately felt vulnerable and lowered himself further behind the rock. The Nambu pistol felt heavy in his hand. Sudden movements brought on a wave of vertigo. His fingers were like a pair of worn windshield wipers; rubbing the sweat from his eyes only seemed to worsen his vision.
“Allah will prevail against you and your heretic Emperor.”
The voice was nearly on top of him. Yoshi jabbed his pistol around the rock’s edge and fired two scattered shots.
He wanted to stand, but his legs were shaking badly now. Was it the fever? Fear?
My men, where are they?
With his left hand, he fingered the hilt of his guntō. Yoshi’s gut flexed involuntarily. He prayed for enough strength to retain his honor, should he need to. He had no second to assist.
His breathing was becoming more and more labored.
“You accomplish nothing here, Jiri.”
Yoshi’s ears plugged up. His eyelids felt like boulders.
Any time now.
“You’ve already lost.”
He shook his head back and forth.
“The Nipponese are your superior–”
Words piled against his lips as he plunged into blackness.
Blue sky was interrupted by the crooked-toothed smile of datu Jiri.
He was wearing Yoshi’s helmet.
A glint of light bounced around. Just above Yoshi’s head, the blade of his prized guntō turned until it hovered across his neck.
Yoshi closed his eyes.
There was a loud bang.
Yoshi turned his head and squinted at the collapsed body of Datu Jiri. A foreign tongue spoke nearby.
“I got him, Sarge! Hit the Nip right in the chest!”