This is my entry for March’s Blog Battle – the theme or word for this month is Heart.

The sun dipped lower and lower, not quite touching the trees the intense brightness dazzled Jana as she strained to see into the forest. Even with the sunvisor and the sight on the weapon she couldn’t see any more than with her naked eyes. She ducked back behind the barricade, that was all the gun turret from the tank was good for now. Taking a deep breath Jana’s lungs were filled with air tainted with smoke and fuel. There was nowhere to move to, nowhere to run to, this where the unit had made its stand was it.

“Shouldn’t we prepare Sarge?” A young soldier stood in front of her and saluted. Jana jumped up and pulled him down to bring him out of view.

“You want to get yourself killed Darin? You can stop that saluting too – we’re way past that!”

“You think they’ll come back?” Darin asked nervously bringing a cigarette to his lips and sucking on it. Jana hadn’t answered, he puffed the smoke out away from her respectfully.

Jana looked out to the forest again silently going through what had been the last few days of hell. This supposedly harmless moon, rich in vegetation and animal life had been analysed and scanned to death with robotic scouts. This phase of colonisation was usually just for safety’s sake, no risks taken every base covered. This had been her third colonisation mission and Jana was thinking about settling here.

The first few nights went as a textbook colonisation should, then the fourth night it started. From out of nowhere they came, the only warning of the impending onslaught was the monstrous screeches. It only thirty seconds later that the first human screams heralded the start of what Jana could only describe as hell.

Humans, tanks, equipment stuff that usually can survive everything from the harshness of space and battle was totally decimated over the last few nights. The lander taken out in minutes, Jana had watch over a hundred people, people she knew reduced to just twelve.

“They’re coming back Darin. Sorry to dash your hopes.”

“What about the evac craft? When are they going to be here?”

“They need to wait, the solar storms up there would kill the evac lander in moments, they said it could be a couple of days.”

“We don’t have…”

“I know, I tried to contact them earlier but all I got was static. Sparks is on it all the time, I told him to keep trying.” Jana insisted.

“So in the meantime?”

“We wait. We somehow survive.”

Jana crawled back towards the the main group, Darin followed closely. Inside the compound that was the main hangar of the landing craft Jana stood and faced the rest of the remaining soldiers.

“Anything sparks?”


Jana looked back, the Sun just touching the tops of the trees, the dimming light brought a chill or was that the cooling air? She wasn’t sure.

“Ok. Listen, we went over the tactics earlier. Keep out of the open, back to the walls. Use the image enhancing goggles rather than visual spectrum.
are the floodlights and fire barricade ready?

“Yes, we got the light sorted and from what materials we could scavenge we have built a fire.” One of the soldiers calmly informed.

“Great – where’s Norris?”

“He didn’t ask about leaving the camp for burning materials?” The soldier asked urgently.

“I thought I made it clear that no one leaves the camp!” In a moment of fury Jana swore “Another man down!”

“What does it matter?” Another of the soldiers shouted at Jana. “You can’t see those things, I’m not even sure they can be killed! Have you seen one dead we’re all -” Thumping him down to the ground another of the men, huge in his build silenced him and then picked him up, dusting him off.

Jana looked around at the assembled troops a last time before the sun set, the darkness was now apparent and the air smelled damp as it would on a summer’s evening on Earth.

“Good luck all – light the fire slowly and be ready to open fire on anything!” The men all dispersed, as she turned to leave the compound Darin was laying at her feet, eyes open and lifeless his body lay still. Crouching Jana whispered a prayer and closed his eyes. She looked up at the sun, nearly set she realised the inescapable truth. She was looking on at her final dusk.

A few days later:

In a clean infirmary back on the colonisation ship, the mission commander looked down at Jana, lifeless except for the beeping monitors showing her vital signs.

“What happened down there?” The commander asked.

“No idea yet, she’s not regained consciousness.”

“Will she?”

“She should do, he signs look ok. Just something different about them.”

“In what way?”

“Hang on… she’s coming round.

As the commander and doctor stood watching, Jana’s eyes moved in what seemed like a moment of eternity they watch as they slowly opened.

“Doc, they – they’re black. What?”

The answer never came, Jana’s mouth opened and a monstrous screech was all that came.

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20 thoughts on “Final Dusk

  1. Sorry it’s taken me so long to get to this, Simon! I’ve had a week from… I don’t know… the flying monkey circus, or something…

    This piece feels like you’re more in your element than the past two blog battles I’ve read. I think the tension and action of this piece work really well, and you haven’t succumbed to the weight of back story at all!

    I love the ending. I was a little confused by Darin’s death, though. I felt like I had missed something, like it came out of nowhere. Maybe I need to re-read.

    I think the big picture really works.

    At a sentence level, you could tighten things up a bit. You have a few comma splices, and sentences where you switch the subject between the first and second half. But these are relatively easy fix. I’m not a grammar for grammar’s sake type of writer myself, and I think you can get away with a bit of that kind of thing. But there are some instances where the commas are interfering with clarity. When in doubt, make it two shorter sentences. Stylistically this doesn’t work for every writer, or every story, but for sci-fi and particularly military sci-fi, short and sweet is the ticket. It picks up the pacing and underlines the tension. Use longer, flowing sentences for imagery that you want to reader to linger on.

    Hope this helps! Nice work 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi ya that’s really helpful Sarah, no need to be sorry at all especially when you give such great advice.

      You didn’t miss anything on Darin’s death, the enemy was like a phastasm that came out at night. As the sun was setting Darin got it first. Perhaps there should have been something more to have heralded his demise but I was going for a silent shock.
      Thanks again 😀

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Oooh, okay, I see. You don’t need to foreshadow it or anything, but maybe give us a bit more in her reaction? She seemed to take it so in stride it was like she knew he was dead already, which was what made me think I’d missed something. Even if she’s a hardened soldier, I think a flash of surprise or sorrow or anger would signal that it just happened, and would clear up the timeline a bit. Those emotions would argue nicely into her “last dusk” realization, too.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. That’s very true, I think where my mind was is she had seen many others fall in a similar way but I think that little emotion and explanation would have cleared that up your right 😀

        Liked by 1 person

      3. Even if her reaction is numbness, you could use that to signal that she *should* have felt something, which would achieve the same thing. Lots of options!

        Liked by 1 person

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