Muscadine Lines: A Southern Journal

Ready Aim Fire

Elle Pryor

“Ready, Aim, Fire”, shouted the General to his three subordinate soldiers.

The sun shone into the captive’s eyes and sweat began to trickle down his brow and neck. His arms were tied behind his back. He gulped; it hurt to gulp, all the moisture in his body was flowing out of his pores. His Adam’s apple felt like it was being dragged against sandpaper.

As soon as he heard the first click of the trigger he fell to the ground. It was an automatic reaction, there was no doubt in his mind that he was about to die. As he fell, his eyes focused on the long orange mustache of the General.

The three soldiers lowered their guns. One of them took a cloth from the pocket of his gray trousers and mopped his brow, another sniffed loudly, pulling in catarrh from his nose and snorting like a pig. The other blinked and looked at the prostrate body before him.

Two of them lifted up the rebel and threw him into the pit with the other bodies. He landed softly onto the backs and stomachs of the dead, their blood had congealed in the heat of the sun.
Ten minutes later, when he was sure that they had gone, the man opened his eyes. A miracle had taken place. The three soldiers had missed him when he had fallen to the ground. The name of the man was Alberto Covas.

He climbed out of the pit and began to walk. The sun beat down on him. A yellow and black snake slithered across his path. The thorny brown bushes of the wasteland greeted him with indifference. Sweat ran down his brow and into his eyes making them smart.

Suddenly, he heard a noise in the distance, the sound of hundreds of feet marching.

Catching his breath with terror, he realized that more soldiers were approaching. He ran quickly towards a distant tree and climbed up into its branches. He was just in time, he barely breathed as hundreds of soldiers dressed in gray marched past him.

At the end of the procession, there were some stragglers. Alberto wiped his forehead with his shirt sleeve. The last soldier had a limp and walked some paces behind the rest. Alberto took his slingshot from out of his pocket, along with a small sharp stone. Under his breath he muttered, “Ready, Aim, Fire” and he let go of the rubber band.

The stone struck the limping soldier in the middle of his temple. He fell to the ground face first, his knees crumpling beneath him. Alberto hoped that none of the other soldiers would look back. When he was sure they were out of sight, he climbed down the tree and walked towards the prone soldier. Quickly, he swapped clothes with him, for in that part of the country, the rebels were heavily outnumbered. He also took the soldier’s gun and bullets.

The euphoria of succeeding made him sensible. He began to walk towards a nearby village where he had friends. As he walked, two soldiers in a jeep drove past and they saluted him. However as he drew nearer to the village he saw smoke rising into the air. He cursed to himself, the village had been invaded.

As quietly as possible he walked into the village. In the distance, in front of a burning house, stood five men. Three of them were about to shoot a childhood friend of his. They were not yet shooting because a General with a long orange mustache was drinking thirstily from a whiskey bottle. They were waiting for his signal.

Alberto hid behind a tree and then aimed his gun at the soldiers. Under his breath he muttered,
“Ready, Aim, Fire”, and then pulled the trigger.

He hit the first soldier in the head and the second in the face. The third, turned towards him and fired his gun. Alberto hit him in the chest. The General began to run throwing his whiskey bottle to the ground. Two shots brought him down, one to his lower back and the other to his neck. Blood pumped from the wound like water from a drinking fountain.

Alberto ran towards his friend who looked with confused horror at Alberto’s uniform. As Alberto got closer though, he recognized him. They hugged each other and shared the guns and bullets of the dead soldiers between them.

Together, working as a team they killed the other soldiers in the village, all of whom were taken by surprise. The men they saved joined them, using the weapons of the dead soldiers. This episode proved to be the turning point of the war.

About twenty armed men walked out of that village. They strode purposefully towards the next village and killed more gray soldiers and were joined by more condemned men. They grew in numbers and on August 7th, 1973 they stormed the Presidential Palace, killing the President and all of his aides.

The next day Alberto Covas was sworn in as an interim leader, responsible for protecting the collectives and worker co-operatives, of a new Anarchist society, from counter revolutionaries.


Elle Pryor is a new writer with a forthcoming publication due in South Jersey Underground. She lives in Pensacola, Florida, and as well as writing short stories, she is currently working on a novel.

© Elle Pryor

Muscadine Lines: A Southern Journal ISSN 1554-8449, Copyright © 2004-2010