Theodore Jerome Cohen is the Readers’ Choice in this week’s Indies Unlimited Flash Fiction Challenge. The winning entry is decided by the popular vote and rewarded with a special feature here today. (In the case of a tie, the writer who submitted an entry first is the winner per our rules.) Without further ado, here’s the winning story:
by Theodore Jerome Cohen
The lieutenant quickly unbuckled his parachute and, with some trouble, finally was able to order seven of the men from Company C to move behind the hedgerow to the east. A heavy mist had dropped visibility to under 100 feet. Were it not for the use of “crickets,” which helped them to indicate their presence to one another, it would have been almost impossible for him to get everyone’s attention, much less identify friend from foe. The hedges, thick with foliage, stood more than ten feet high and grew from a three-foot dirt base.
They hadn’t moved more than a quarter mile to the north when the lieutenant put up his hand. “Shhhh!”
“What is it, Lieutenant?” whispered Private Allen.
Lieutenant Tallerday pinched his cricket, but there was no response. He tried again. Two chirps. Nothing. Still, the muffled sounds of men approaching from the opposite direction—apparently on the other side of the hedgerow—were unmistakable.
The lieutenant put up his hand, signaling everyone to stop. Then, slowly, carefully, he parted the hedgerow and listened for what could be heard.
“Wir müssen sehr vorsichtig sein, unsere Intelligenzkräfte haben signalisiert, dass die amerikanischen Streitkräfte bereits in diesem Gebiet gelandet sind.”
“What are they saying, lieutenant?” a private whispered in the lieutenant’s ear. Tallerday motioned him off.
Within a minute, the Germans were gone, lost in the mist that enveloped the entire countryside. “Thank God for the fog of war,” whispered Tallerday, nervously removing his helmet and wiping his brow.