Illustration for "The Soldier's of Fate" Copyright (c) 2019 by LA Spooner. Used under license.

The Soldiers of Fate

Story by Bryan Miller

Illustration by L.A. Spooner

  So, would you want to know the day you were gonna die, if you could? I heard that before. It’s one of those hypnotical questions. But it’s more than just a riddle. That happened to my dude Carlo. Changed everything.

            Me and Carlo known each other since before we were born. My Moms and his Moms, they was always like this. They got pregnant with us right around the same time. We wound up being born exactly a month apart. The eleventh and the eleventh.

            We did everything together. School and sports. In fifth grade we were partners in the science fair. We made this real-ass-looking volcano thing and you put baking soda into it and whoosh! it’s like, run for the hills, villagers, shit’s going down.

            I spent more time most days with Carlo than I do with you. And we didn’t have guards at the door. We were free to leave. Not that me and you wouldn’t chill on the outside, we would. But like, we might take a break for a couple of days.

            So, of course, me and Carlo became little junior knuckleheads together. We’d steal football cards and candy from the gas station, whatever we could. We’d take tampons and batteries just to be taking something. We’d fuck with the crackheads on the block for fun, run little baby scams with old phone cards and Twins tickets.

            Eventually we graduated up to be regular knuckleheads. We’d bust noggins, take wallets, get bad blow in St. Paul then go re-sell it to dipshits in St. Cloud that didn’t better know better. One time we were cutting it with some baking soda and Carlo went whoosh! like the volcano back in the day, and that cracked us up. Carlo was quick in the head. He could do numbers fast without a calculator and he always knew what to say to keeps our Moms from getting us in trouble and he always had something funny like to say right away.

            One night we were hanging around outside Bar Fly after a rave show downtown, and we followed this hippie kid to his car. He was so high we didn’t even really have to roll him, we just sorta laid him down and went through his pockets. He had like no cash but this real resin-y glass bowl and some weed and this baggie of white crystal powder. Carlo took it home and looked it up on his phone and it turns out it was DMT.

            We knew it was powerful stuff, so we went out to the Columbia Heights golf course at night to smoke it and yeah, I mean, they ain’t lying. It’s like oh yeah I wanna take an acid trip but I need to squeeze it all into ten minutes I got a bus coming. Carlo said the Internet said it’ll show you the meaning of life, but I don’t know about that. Not unless the meaning of life is everything you see is geometrics and shit is all connected by these millions of tiny straight lines. Carlo called ’em fractional patterns. When Carlo smokes the DMT he goes out for a minute, just like I did, laying there on the edge of the sand bunker.  Except when he comes to, he’s all serious and he tells me now he knows the day he’s gonna die. June 16, 2024.

            Which is crazy, right, and I think he’s still druggy talking except the next day he still believes it, and the next day too. Not like judgmental, he’s still cool, but he says he has to make the most of the time he has now that he has this exact specific calendar date. He starts going to tech school, meets this girl Elena while he’s there. Right before they graduate, she gets knocked up because I guess they don’t have Introduction to Rubbers 101 in tech school. But they still graduate. He got a job, she had the baby, she got a job. Pretty soon she has another baby. Now they got two little girls and two boring jobs; and the last time I talked to Carlo at his Moms’ house, right before I got scooped up, he was smiling so big. He said his life was perfect. Not like bragging, he was being real with me. His whole face was all lit up with it.

            So not that you asked, but that’s why I keep on the straight-and-arrow in here. Keep my nose clean. ’Cause I gotta get out in time. I gotta be on the outside June 16, 2024 to make sure it happens.

            Because if it doesn’t, if Carlo keeps on living past that date, then it was all bull. All that happiness is just a goddamn lie, and Carlo’s wife and family don’t mean squat.

            That’s the why for my good behavior. Carlo is my boy. He’s my brother. I gotta make sure the parole board cuts me loose so I can do what needs to be done. Because life, it doesn’t mean nothin’ unless you got a purpose.

— ♦♦♦ —


Next Week: 

Thumbnail illustration for "A Study in Scarlet Wrapping Paper" Copyright (c) 2019 by Cesar Valtierra.  Used under license.A Study in Scarlet By Mike Blackwelder , Art by Cesar Valtierra

Sam’s jaw clenched so tight he couldn’t speak. His anger melted into resolve. Last year, one of David’s presents had been opened early. This year was much worse. One of his five kids wanted to ruin Christmas and he intended to find out who.

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