Read by Phil Rossi
He had been trained, as all of us had, to assemble his rifle by touch – but to our dismay, we discovered that Private Sperling could do it in near-silence. He pushed the parts together with delicate care underneath the stiff, thin sheets of his bunk bed, the click of pins and bolts so muffled that none of us heard a thing in the cramped confines of our modular shelter.
In our defense, we were doped up on Lithium. But even if we hadn’t caught the faint scratching of the cleaning brush, plunging in and out of the bore like an obscene masturbation, we should have heard him crying. Afterward, Sperling’s bed was a smear of stains – grease on the sheets, tears on his pillows, blood on just about everything else.
We didn’t know the Decharai had made contact with him.
About the Author
Ferrett Steinmetz lives in Cleveland with his wife, a well-worn copy of Rock Band, two boxes of bees, and a friendly ghost. He’s been nominated for the Nebula, much to his continued astonishment, and has published over twenty-five stories since rebooting his writing career five years ago. Ferrett blogs regularly about puns, polyamory, and politics at his blog FERRETT – that’s two “R”s, and two “Ts”. He usually has a few upcoming stories, so if you liked this one, there’s probably more like it at his site.