Fallujah, Iraq

I've cut him up pretty badly with the K-bar while we where fighting, but this isn't textbook work. Not by a long shot. This is basic animal fighting, with blood and tears and teeth and claws. I can't see out of my left eye because of a vicious thumbnail and the bite on my forearm is deep. I think I feel air on the bone. We stopped swearing a while ago, giving over to guttural screams and the huffs of breath punched free of lung. I savour the fistful of hair I now hold, and I pull the knife closer into his neck. The guy in the doorway has no fucking clue what to do and my friend has pissed his pants. The sand in this country smells different, the sour sweat and diesel aroma is just wrong. I just want to go home. Our heaving breaths have matched up, and the gunman is feeling like a cowboy. This is how it ends. I flip the knife left while the muzzle flares into a 6 pointed star of flame. It's true. You don't hear the one that kills you.

Ben Luc, Vietnam

I had a belly full of Ba Mu'o'i Ba at lunch because I hate the Bad Bush. This little fucker tried to stick me like a pig when it started raining 105 shells. He broke 3 of my fingers with his rifle butt when I smashed him with my helmet. I felt his jaw break when I got my hand up into his throat. We fell together into the wet pigshit mud. The bamboo scrub is wet and raw and sharp. The sweat makes our blood run thin and brown orange. I got my arm around his neck and was jerking it up while I gritted my teeth when he got the pin out of my grenade. I lay down on his back and counted 3.

Chungju, Korea

The trees are black scraps, standing dead in the thin wet snow. We heard the brass trumpets call a charge before the shell holes started showing heads. He jumped in my foxhole from the side while I was trying to reload with frozen fingers. We were both scared shitless, and we swung our guns like clubs. My boot caught his leg at the same time he got a fist up in my chin. The shoulder rammed up into my ribs before I drove my knuckles onto the hard crown of his head. Steam rose from our torn coats. The squealing metal treads of the Pershing crushed us flat before I could twist away from the handful of jacket he had wrapped up in his fist.

Ortona, Italy

The beating sun made the white rocks shine as they where kicked into the air by the chattering rounds coming down the street. I rolled through the door hunched low, and he got me right across the nose with the dagger. I grabbed wildly and pulled his collar close before butting my bleeding head into his face. My pistol jammed after getting him in the forearm, and through the blood I aimed a fist that caught him in the groin. While he fell, he kicked my throat hard enough to break my teeth and choke off my air. The burning house fell on top of us while I tried to get up.

Messines, France

Out under the wire I crawled out across the black dark looking for my fellows from the other side doing the same. I heard his belt buckle scrape across some blasted scrap stuck in the sucking mud. My tackle from a crouch dropped us both into the steep sided shell hole. Falling down the side you kept giving me vicious punches with your face twisted into a grim red mask. I tried to shield my face but you snuck one past and broke the lenses on my gas mask. I got the pistol out of my belt and pressed it into your ear when the whitestar phosgene shell made that hollow "crump" over our heads. We sat in the misty gas snowing down on us. I shot you before I did myself in. We burned from the inside out.

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