Toast Post: Rockets Red Glare

I am Toast. This is my post.

I am reporting live from deep within the bowels of Fort Hotdog under the coffee table in the living room of the compound. The bombs began falling nearly two hours ago and there has been no break in the onslaught of shear firepower and destruction falling from the sky. I can only assume the enemy has broken the country’s defenses and grows near.

“Private Fluffernutter! I order you to go outside and conduct recon, surveillance, and fact-gathering! I need to know the enemy’s position and their numbers!”

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“Colonel Chicken, you must gather supplies! Kibble, pizza, donuts…anything you can carry. There is no telling how long we will be pinned down here. Our stores are low. We currently only have enough food for me.”

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I must write a letter home in case I do not survive the battle. This is my letter home:

Life on the battlefield is hard. I often find my mind drifting to my family back home. I picture Mommy sitting at the kitchen table with a cup of tea and little Oat, so young, unaware of the horrors of war taking place in this Godforsaken place. It is those thoughts that give me the strength to carry on, to pull myself up out of my blankie every day and face the evils of man. I await mail-call with earnest, your words bring joy to my heart. Cookies would be well received. If you can find the time to include cookies in your next correspondence, those in my Troup long for such familiarities. I have learned to sleep with one eye open, knowing the enemy is close. They crouch just beyond the next ridge, watching us as we watch them. I wonder if they have cookies. Did I mention you should send cookies? Please send cookies. I fear I may not survive and I would like one last cookie.

Another bomb exploded in the sky, waking me from my reverie. With haste, I stuff my letter in an envelope and give it to Colonel Chicken. “Deliver this before you go on your supply run,” I tell her. I do not have to explain its importance, her eyes tell me she already knows. We all want cookies.

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There is a television playing in the far corner of Fort Hotdog, Pharrell Williams dances across the screen, that “Happy” song oozing from the speakers. I know the end is near, why else would one play such atrocity? It is a death-march. A silence creeps across those around me as they realize the same.

My Thunder Shirt has been cleaned and pressed. I dress in silence. When I am found, I will look my best.

The sky lights in blazing colors of red white and blue as another bomb detonates, this one much closer than the last. Private Fluffernutter runs back in and scurries for cover under the table beside me. His whimper tells me all I need to know. I slide my blankie aside and show him the box of sparklers I have hidden beneath my bedding. “I saved three,” I tell him. “If the enemy breaks the line and there is no other way out, we will use these on ourselves. Our ranks cannot be captured. We cannot fall into the hands of the enemy, we know too much.” There is no need for further words, he understands. We all understand.

July fifth is only a few hours away yet it might as well be a lifetime. A dawn we will never reach.

That is all.

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J.D. Barker is the internationally best-selling author of FORSAKEN, a finalist for the Bram Stoker Award for Superior Achievement in a First Novel and has earned him comparisons to Stephen King, Dean Koontz, and John Saul. His latest novel, THE FOURTH MONKEY, released in June 2017. His third novel, THE FIFTH TO DIE, releases June 2018. He has been asked by the Stoker family to coauthor the forthcoming prequel to DRACULA due out in fall 2018. His work has been translated into numerous languages and has been optioned for both film and television. Barker currently resides in Pennsylvania with his wife, Dayna, and their two dogs, both of whom sit outside his office door daily, eagerly awaiting his next novel.

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