This is a free World War Three short story.
In short, it is a new world I am contemplating to develop further. That said, this one is on me. Let me know in the comments what you think.
Brent and Elana: World War Three
Gunfire echoed through the abandoned streets of Austin.
“We got to move!” Brent shouted and jumped over the body of an enemy soldier. One he took down only a few seconds earlier. The moment his boots hit the ground a hail of bullets bit at his heels, sending sparks from the tar road.
“That was close! Run! We need to get to the river!”
While bullets whistled relentlessly around them, they ran towards a darkened corner. The hope of safety within distance.
The fear of death was imminent.
Buildings once filled with life now lay in ruins, their hollow frames casting eerie shadows. The stench of burning rubber and the acrid taste of gunpowder hung heavy in the air.
Not to mention the smell of burned flesh.
Enough to make you sick, thought Elena Martinez, with her short-cropped black hair damp from sweat, crouched behind a shattered storefront. Her intense brown eyes darted about, searching for an escape route, and yet, they frequently glanced at her comrade hiding beside her. She noticed how the faint light caught the rugged lines of Brent Carter’s face, accentuating the blue in his piercing eyes. His sandy-blond hair was streaked with grime, and a three-day beard added to his rugged appearance.
“You good?” Brent’s voice was a low rasp, trying to keep the tension out of his tone, but she could detect the underlying concern. He was always concerned. Goes with the territory. But this time it was different. It lacked hope.
She nodded, trying to push down the fear bubbling up inside her. “Yeah, just remembering the last time we were trapped together during that drill at basic. At least it was just paintballs then.”
Brent chuckled a short burst of warmth in an otherwise cold situation. “You had that green splotch on your cheek for days. Tried telling you, but you wouldn’t listen.”
Elena smirked, “Trying to get close, were you, Carter?” She could recall how their initial rivalry at the academy had given way to a close friendship. But amidst the camaraderie, there were those lingering moments – a touch that lasted a tad too long, lingering gazes exchanged – which spoke of something deeper.
“Yeah, been trying for a long time.”
“Why stop at trying?” Elena said and immediately felt ashamed of her own words. This is not the time or place.
“If it wasn’t for the war.”
“Then I would have just been another Brent Carter conquest, no thank you,”
“No conquest,” Brent replied, his voice low with a hint of sadness, “It would have been just…”
A sudden explosion rocked the ground beneath them, pulling them back to the grim reality.
“Fuck that was close!” Brent grabbed her hand and forced her to run as fast as she could.
“There is the river!” Elena shouted, her finger pointing towards the distant, glimmering waters of the Colorado. “If we can get past the marketplace we might get to it.”
Brent surveyed their surroundings, his jaw clenched, and then locked eyes with her. “You are right, we need to get moving. I am concerned about the marketplace. It is very open, but yeah the river is our only shot. If…”
Elena reached out, touching his arm, feeling the tension in his muscles. “…if the comms were right…they would be there. There will be green smoke.” She saw a glimmer of hope returning to his eyes.
“Ok, let’s get out of this hellhole,” Brent responded, his voice steady but the tremor in his eyes betraying the weight of their predicament. “We just can’t be caught. You…” he looked away from her staring into the distance, “…you can’t be caught.”
Elena could sense his hesitation, feel the depth of his concern for her. She knew her fate if the enemy caught her. For Brent, it would be a quick execution. Not for her. The stories about captured women were known. She squeezed his arm reassuringly. “We’ll make it. We’ll find them,” she said, not believing her own words. It’s been hours since they lost all contact.
Brent took a deep breath, his chest rising and falling. For a moment, they just stood there, amidst the backdrop of a war-torn city, drawing strength from not being alone. Their hands found each other’s, fingers interlocking briefly before the need to move overtook them.
“Together,” Brent murmured.
Elena nodded and replied “Together.”
* * *
Every step they took was a reminder of the war’s cruelty. The marketplace, once a bustling hive of activity, was now strewn with the aftermath of conflict. Bodies of civilians and soldiers alike littered the streets, their lifeless eyes staring into oblivion. The weight of it all settled heavily on their shoulders; even though they had become somewhat desensitized to the chaos, the sheer magnitude of loss was hard to ignore.
And it all left a tangible sorrow in the air. One that haunts you when you sleep. Keeping itself alive deep in your soul. Never to leave you.
Elena tried to shake the thoughts from her head. It was getting harder by the day. No twenty-five-year-old is supposed to witness any of this. Nor participate in it. The days of travel, gap years, finding love, body counts, influencers, and all the little luxuries of the world before the war, are a distant memory.
“The marketplace should be just around this corner,” Brent whispered, pressing himself against a cracked wall. The coarse texture of the wall dug into his back, but the discomfort was trivial compared to the unease they felt.
“Can we…” Elena had no chance to complete her request for a water break as she saw Brent’s eyes widen with fear.
From the shadows of narrow alleys, enemy soldiers surged forth, their battle cries slicing through the air. Each step they took sent dust swirling, their boots pounding the cracked pavement with militaristic precision.
Buildings became unwilling participants in the onslaught, their brickwork and facades trembling under the brutal symphony of automatic gunfire. Bullets, like lethal hornets, buzzed menacingly close, each one finding its mark on the ground or embedding itself in walls. With every impact, bits of concrete and brick disintegrated, becoming airborne shrapnel that danced wildly before settling back to the ground.
Brent and Elena bolted, the distant screams of combat all around them, the metallic tang of gunpowder filling the air. A near-miss made Elena stumble, but Brent caught her, his grip firm.
“Behind the stall!” Brent yelled, pulling Elena with him as they took cover behind an old vendor’s booth. The thin wooden barrier wouldn’t offer much protection, but it provided a moment’s respite.
Elena’s eyes darted around, her senses heightened. The smell of spent cartridges and distant smoke assaulted her nostrils.
“Cover me!” Elena’s voice was drowned in adrenaline as she fumbled for a grenade.
“On it!” Brent shouted back, taking a deep breath. He leaned out, bracing himself, firing in controlled bursts at the advancing enemies. The powerful recoil of the rifle thudded into his shoulder, but his focus remained sharp, every shot aimed to suppress.
Elena pulled the pin, counting the seconds in her head. As she lobbed the grenade, a hot wind ruffled their clothes, immediately followed by a deafening explosion. Dirt and debris rained down on them, and the shockwave pushed them further behind their cover.
The detonation threw enemy soldiers off balance, their silhouettes briefly visible in the ensuing smoke.
Seizing the moment, Brent and Elena fired relentlessly, taking down one after another. When the smoke cleared, the immediate threat lay neutralized, the enemies’ lifeless forms sprawled across the ground.
Knowing this reprieve was temporary, Brent sought better defensive ground. “The fountain!” He pointed to a once beautiful water structure, now broken and scarred. Its ornate sculptures shattered, and the water, once clear and inviting, lay stagnant, the surface mirroring the orange and red flickers from burning buildings nearby.
They sprinted towards the fountain, the adrenaline and recent conflict making every shadow appear as a potential threat.
As Elena ran, she stole a quick glance at Brent beside her. The setting sun caught the contours of his face, highlighting the determination in his eyes and the beads of sweat on his brow. For a fleeting moment, amid the chaos, she felt a surge of gratitude and warmth. It wasn’t just his combat skills she admired; it was the quiet strength he emanated, the unwavering support he provided. In this hellscape, she was glad it was Brent by her side.
Reaching the fountain, they collapsed behind its sturdy base, their lungs hungrily gasping for air. Their chests heaved in tandem, the immense pressure of their situation making the world around them seem both immediate and distant. For a fleeting moment, their surroundings became a blur, as the need to recoup overtook them.
Brent turned his head slightly towards Elena, concern evident in his piercing eyes. “Are you ok?” he whispered, his voice raspy from the strain.
Elena nodded weakly, meeting his gaze, “Yes, just need to catch my breath.”
Brent fumbled with his gear, extracting his canteen. “Good, take some water,” he insisted, offering it to her with a hand that trembled ever so slightly.
Her gaze flitted to the canteen and then back to Brent. “You first,” she murmured, nudging the water bottle back toward him with a playful defiance.
Brent leaned in a bit closer, the faintest hint of a smirk forming on his lips. He shook his head and leaned back against the wall, his shoulder pressing reassuringly against her. “Ladies first.”
She lifted an eyebrow, a smile tugging at the corner of her lips. “So I am a lady now?” and took the canteen from Brent, she paused a moment to scan around and pressed the bottle against her lips. Immediately, the cool water soothed her parched throat and provided momentary relief.
He watched her for a moment, affection mingling in his eyes. After he took a sip himself he peaked over the cover wall and looked around for a while. The light was bright enough to make the conclusion that at least for now they were safe. Then he sat down, took off his helmet and wiped the sweat from his forehead.
“I think we are ok for now.”
Elena nodded. They both knew that it would only be a matter of time. The Eastern Coalition outnumbered them fifty to one.
Brent continued, “Let’s stay for as long as possible, I would like some cover of darkness.”
“Good idea,” Elena said and also loosened her helmet. The constant pressing against her skull gave her a dull constant headache and losing the straps gave immediate respite.
For a moment she caught Brent staring at her. Then out of nowhere, Brent reached out and gently touched Elena’s cheek, his thumb tenderly tracing the curve of her jaw. “You’re incredible, you know that?” he murmured, his voice filled with a mixture of gratitude and something deeper, yet unspoken.
Elena’s laughter was a mere whisper, a stark contrast to the world around them. “We’re quite the pair, aren’t we?”
The distance between them closed, and their lips met. For Elena, it was a kiss that held promises of a world beyond the war-torn streets. She felt the warmth of Brent’s lips, the slight roughness where they were chapped, and the comfort of his presence. A rush of emotions surged through her, a cocktail of fear, hope, and longing.
Effortlessly he lifted her up and on top of him. Their eyes searched one another for answers to a question neither of them had. Hungrily she kissed him and started to fiddle with the buttons on his pants, already feeling a glimpse of his hard manhood.
“We can’t,” Brent murmured but did not let up kissing her, finding his way to her neck.
Elena continued, freeing his manhood and stripping her own trousers just enough. She maneuvered her small frame to take him in and gasped when he entered her.
It only took a minute for both of them to climax, Brent letting out a soft grunt, a moment between life and death, lust and war.
Breathing hard she smiled at him, “I waited too long for that,” she whispered and kissed him deeply.
They watched the day finally losing its battle against the darkness, with Elena resting her head on Brent’s chest, taking in the rhythm of his breathing. For a moment they were somewhere else, in a time when things were normal. A time edged away by the brutality of war.
But their intimate moment was shattered by the sound of a drone approaching.
“We have to move,” Elena said, the urgency back in her tone.
Brent nodded, kissed her once more, “To the river.”
* * *
Navigating through a once-bustling marketplace now in ruins, they made their way between overturned vendor stalls and scattered produce trampled in the skirmish. The rich scent of aged spices, a ghost of the marketplace’s better days, lingered in the air. Tattered awnings flapped in the wind, and remnants of handmade crafts lay discarded on the cobblestone ground.
Beyond this urban maze, the river gleamed under the descending twilight, its waters shimmering like liquid silver. It promised safety, and its proximity was both a reminder of how far they’d come and how perilously close they were to escape.
“We are almost there,” Brent said. “And I can see green smoke!”
Thank God it is green, Elena thought. The signal of their comrades in arms. Waiting for soldiers scattered all over the city just like them.
The hope of rescue gave them renewed energy to keep pushing forward.
But hope in wartime is a fragile thing.
Suddenly a deafening explosion rocked the streets behind them.
Elena turned, her eyes widened “They are closing in!” she said, the enemies’ numbers far outweighing their ammunition and stamina. The haunting shadows of drones buzzed overhead, night vision sensors tracking their every move.
“We’re almost there, Elena,” Brent said.
The green smoke, their beacon, wafted into view, growing more pronounced as they approached the river’s edge. The rhythmic thudding of friendly chopper blades resonated, drowning out the battlefield’s clamor and offering a melody of hope. Hunched down silhouette figures waving them to move faster.
But just as they felt the tantalizing pull of safety, a sharp, deafening crack tore through the air.
Elena turned to see Brent, just in time to pull her out of the bullet’s path, taking the shot meant for her. His body jolted from the impact, his eyes momentarily reflecting shock before he dropped into the muddy embankment.
“No!” she shouted falling to her knees, instinctively covering his body, while lifting her rifle in the direction where the sound came from.
Between rapid bursts, she glanced down. Blood started to stain the ground around Brent. She knew the score but refused to admit it.
More bullets whistled past them, and the laser-like tracers found a path toward them as Elena returned fire. With a definite ping, her magazine shouted empty.
“I am out!” she shouted and tried to pull Brent up. But his dead weight was too much for her frame to handle. He turned and gave her a sad smile, his breathing shallow. “It is all good. Told you we would leave this hellhole,” he said and painfully twisted his body around and started to fire. “Go!” he grunted, pushing Elena away while returning fire. “I’ll cover you!”
“No, Brent!” Elena’s voice wavered, “You only need to get up, Just a few yards. Please get up,” she heard the desperation in her own voice.
He locked eyes with her, the intensity in them unmistakable. “I don’t feel anything, my legs…nothing. They can’t capture you, Elena. What they do to women…” he whispered, “I love you too much to let that happen.”
Elena shook her head, tears flowing down her cheeks, “I don’t care. I love you too. Please just stand up!”
Brent turned to her once more. If only she knew then it would be the last time. “I am out,” he said, blood spewing from the corner of his mouth. He managed with his last strength to reach the grenade clipped to his belt and released the pin, folding the bomb with both hands against his chest. “Now you run Elena.” Brent closed his eyes.
She wanted to stay.
But inside something stirred her to run.
Something she would only find out later.
And as the green smoke engulfed her, her teary eyes closed as she heard the blast.
copyright Ben Finn @2023
This story is purely fictional, all names and characters is the imagination of the author and all real names, and places of resemblances are purely fictional. No part of this World War Three short story may be replicated or reproduced in any form or shape without the written consent of the author.
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