It rained hard against Bertrina Humphries’ office window, and as the wind blew waves of belting streams against its panes, she looked up and swore she saw Harkoff’s bloody face behind the glass.

Her mind wandered, the face smiled.


I met up with some of my comrades sometime after the war. We all served in the same battalion. There were 666 of us in the 6th battalion, and none of us died. Our Lieutenant Colonel was insane, he had an obsession with tapping on window-panes, whenever he saw them he tapped at them furiously. After we took shelling from the enemy, or after large assaults, he would disappear into the wilderness for several days. After the first year of the war, we dissolved the companies within the battalion and floated around in a big group. Right from the beginning of the war, we were told to march dead south, following the river and then the beaches of the Great Lake, to find some enemy secrets. We never found anything. We followed the water until we left our country, and began to pass mines and churches and castles and poor people wearing overalls.

Every now and then we encountered massive wheeled iron beasts that spewed shells and black clouds into the sky, but whenever things got tough another battalion from our brigade would appear and the beast would roll on by.

We met priests who flicked strange water at us that caused us to experience great indigestion and sleepless nights. When we reached the south sea we turned back and marched home. When we got home two years later, fighting intermittently along the way, we found Nela razed to the ground.

We decided to partly march through the desert, and we saw mounds of charred Jousen corpses outside every commune, and women with children born from rape.

We saw four of the enormous iron beasts destroyed in a line as we entered Nela.

I went to war and I saw nothing. I didn’t meet anyone and I probably didn’t kill anyone. I heard our Lieutenant Colonel went back to the south some time ago and married a woman there.