“There’s thousands of them, sir,” Private Greene said, his mouth agape as he stared out upon the sea of figures fast approaching. Midgets, or rather little people as they demanded to be called, marching toward them in a full-scale, yet pocket-sized, invasion. For centuries they’d been breeding and amassing an army underground, waiting for their moment to strike and claim ownership over the Americas. By the time the “normies” figured out their plans, that the few on the surface were actually spies bringing food–primarily the remains of dead humans–to their subterranean colonies, it was too late. The war had already begun.
“Next time, Private,” Sergeant Savage said, “when I say ‘we’ve fought worse odds,’ remember this. These will be those odds.” He lowered his rifle and pointed it straight at the rows of tiny soldiers slowly waddling their way toward them, like a sea of penguins struggling against gravity. He could feel his heart beat against his chest, its steady rhythm growing faster and faster as his mouth grew dryer and dryer. Just a few more yards and they’d cross the line. Just a few more feet and their reckoning would begin.
“There’s too many of them,” Private Johnson said. “We can’t do this.” He shifted slightly, as if starting to back away.
“Don’t you dare,” Savage said, glancing over at Johnson. “You didn’t train for this day so you could give up. You trained so you could kill. You trained so we could win.”
“But there’s just ten of us,” Johnson said, his voice shaking and weak.
“You might be right,” Savage said, turning back toward the row of under four-foot-tall beings, a cloud of dust following their footsteps. “There may just be ten of us, and there may be thousands of them.” He turned to Johnson. “But you’re forgetting something, son. You’re forgetting what we’ve got.”
“What do we have?” said a voice from behind. Savage turned and glanced at the rest of the unit, their eyes locked on his own.
“We’ve got this,” he said, rising to his feet, rifle falling down to his side. He held out his right hand as if he were displaying a prize on The Price is Right, running it down his body like it were that night’s Showcase Showdown. “We’ve got height; we’ve got limbs longer than twigs; we’ve got arms that reach beyond our own chests. We might be out numbered, but that doesn’t mean we can’t win this, god dammit.”
“They’ve breached the line!” shouted Johnson, turning and swinging his rifle toward the sandbags behind them. A small, pale hand was reaching up from under the bags, flailing wildly and grasping at nothing. “We’re surrounded, kind of!”
Savage threw his rifle aside and ran over to the small, twig-like hand, then lifted his foot and stomped down on it.
“Ow,” shrieked an incredibly high-pitched voice from behind the bags. The hand quickly disappeared from view.
“Fuck off,” Savage screamed, his voice cracking slightly. Problem solved; he turned and walked back over to the unit. “There we go, that’s been dealt with.” It was convenient that there had only been a single little person, any more would have taken a bit longer to handle.
“I don’t think I can do this,” Private Greene said, his rifle clutched up against his chest as if it were a stuffed toy. “I need to go home.”
Savage glanced out at the sea of little people ahead, their engorged heads bobbing in unison as they marched. They were now well within the perimeter, their child-sized shoes kicking up their dirt, marching on their land. This was now their war to share.
“Too late! Fire!” Savage screamed, thrusting his hand forward in a karate-chop motion. A cacophony of rifles erupted beside him, the sound of marching replaced by the crackle of bullets upon the desert sand. Tiny, high-pitched screams followed; he knew they couldn’t run away, their miniature feet locked them in two simple speeds: slow and slightly less slow; they had already been marching in the faster of the two. Now they were trapped within a hail of bullets, a result they seemingly didn’t expect due to their inability to see over the sandbags ahead of them. Despite having incredibly large heads, their planning abilities were simply not up to par.
“Behind us!” screamed a voice next to Savage. He turned just in time to witness a tiny fist softly bopping him on his hip. It didn’t exactly hurt, but it wasn’t pleasant. Maybe if he had requested such a thing, like while in a massage or something, it would have been enjoyable, but this was uninvited. It was unwelcome.
Savage grasped the tiny arm that had just bumped him, tearing it off smacking its owner with it.
“Stop it,” said the little person, his voice dull and high-pitched.
“You stop,” Sergeant Savage said, his voice equally clam. “You’re the ones who invaded us.”
“Yeah, but you took my arm,” said the little person like a child who had inhaled too much helium.
“Shut up,” Savage said, smacking the little person again, a fountain of blood spurting out of his arm-hole. He tossed the dismembered limb aside.
“Dick,” the little person said, shaking his head and picking the arm off the floor. He dusted it off on his shoe before turning and beginning the four foot climb back over the sandbags.
Sergeant Savage turned back around and stared at the carnage ahead of him. Body upon body lay in a scattered heap a few dozen yards beyond the sandbags, like a school play that had gone terribly, astronomically wrong.
“We did it,” Savage said. “I told you, that was really easy.” He turned toward Johnson and smiled, then froze.
“You were right,” Johnson said, his mouth distorted and wrinkled. He was lying on his back, the unit surrounding him. A dark, red circle of blood had soaked through his uniform, forming a puddle beneath. Johnson glanced down at his wound. “I got shot, Serge.”
“What happened,” Savage said, running over and crouching behind him. “They didn’t even have guns. In fact, I’m pretty sure some of them were naked.”
“I shot myself,” Johnson said, nodding toward his rifle. “I got too excited and shot myself in the chest. It just seemed like the right thing to do at the time.”
Sergeant Savage placed his hand on Johnson’s forehead, then closed his eyelids with his palm.
“Rest in peace,” he said.
“I’m not dead, I think I’m going to be fine,” Johnson said, opening his eyes again. “I think it just grazed me.”
“Rest in peace,” Savage repeated, again closing Johnson’s eyes with his hand.
“Okay,” Johnson said, exhaling heavily as if he had just died.
Savage stood up and turned away from the unit, closing his eyes and taking a deep breath. He’d have to live with this moment for the rest of his life, have to carry the responsibility of Johnson’s death until the day he died. Savage had failed to protect him, failed to keep him safe. He died on his watch, killed by the enemy—sort of. He opened his eyes and turned back toward the unit; there was no time for mourning now. There was still a battle to be fought, still a war that needed to be won. The little people would not surrender after one loss, nor would the “normies” claim victory that day. There would be more death, more violence. There would be more Savage.