This is more flash fiction responding to Chuck Wendig’s latest challenge: Random Cocktail Challenge where you take the name from a random cocktail and create a story from it.
My drink was the Johnny Buffalo: Buffalo Trace Bourbon, Club Soda, Lemon Juice, Sugar
Johnny Buffalo was dead.
I looked through the peephole and stared at the Marine in his dress blues standing stoically on my front porch. I didn’t even have to open the door.
Johnny Buffalo was dead.
They said it was going to be a quick mission. In and out. No more dangerous than any of the others. A suborbital drop into the Zambian delta, destroy the camp, kill The Others and retrograde. Resistance minimal, they said.
They lied. They always lied. That’s what Johnny would tell me when we were lying awake at night, his body covered in sweat after another nightmare. It was always the same. He’d toss and turn, mumbling and then half screaming as if he couldn’t get the words out. Finally he’d scream “Liars!” or some variation and wake up. I was always careful not to grab him or get too close until he was fully awake and knew where he was. Otherwise I’d lose a tooth or get another black eye. It had happened before.
“Who’s lying, Johnny?” I’d say.
“Them. Those fucking headquarters pogues.” he’d say.
“What did they lie about? I asked.
“Everything. Every fucking thing.” he’d reply.
“Then don’t go.” I’d say.
“I have to, baby. I don’t have a choice. Orders, you know.”
That’s about the time I’d slide closer, stroking his face. Small kisses. I’d reach down and feel him grow long and hard in my hand. We’d make love, and then he could finally sleep again.
But I’d lay awake. Now I was sweating and wondering about the lies and who told them.
“Goddammit” I’d whisper under my breath. “Only two more years of this and maybe the war will be over and we can get on with our lives.”
I wondered who was lying now. I wiped away tears and held Johnny close and tried to forget that he’d be leaving again in a couple days. Back to the lies, to the violence. Things I didn’t understand or want to know about. I just wanted to be with him. My Marine. My Johnny Buffalo.
Johnny tightened the straps on his combat vest and tensed his body for re-entry. It was supposed to be a quick one they said. He knew it would be different. These lying fucks always made it sound like the next mission was going to be an easy one. But Johnny knew better. He’d been dropped into enough meatgrinders to know they were losing the war. Ever since The Others had strarted to colonize earth, it was one do-or-die battle after another. But The Others never seemed to want to take ground. They had been keeping a hold on a large swath of Zambia near the Zambezi delta since the giant ships had darkened the sky seven years ago. It was one horseshit mission after another. Johnny had been wounded three times, earned a ton of medals and had been promised a transfer after the December Siege in ’57. But that was rescinded due to “needs of the service.” National Security and all that, they said.
Johnny led his squad into the humid night, sensors picking up multiple targets the second they stepped off the lander. Almost instantly, members of his unit started to vaporize. The Others had harnessed some sort of plasma ray they couldn’t defend against. It was suicide. But just like with all the other missions, once the assault team was below fifty-percent strength, The Others held their fire and retreated to their fortified positions. But Johnny couldn’t take it anymore.
Johnny ran towards the alien fortifications, throwing flame grenades and spraying the area with armor-piercing rounds. He expended all of his ammo within the first minute but kept on running. He stumbled down the ramp into the first bunker he came to. It was all smooth rock and adorned with intricate engravings. It made no sense to Johnny. All he wanted was alien blood on his hands. He wanted to avenge his brothers. He wanted to prove something to those lying fucks at Headquarters. He wanted to kill. He pounded on the door at the base of the ramp, which opened almost instantly.
Johnny didn’t feel any pain when the alien behind the door embraced him. It was a crushing embrace, but Johnny understood that this alien meant him no harm. He wanted him to understand they came in peace. Johnny didn’t understand what happened next. The Others had the ability to shift time and consciousness, and mined Johnny’s brain for clues about how they could end the war. Then they became one mind, with understanding of both species.
Then they released him. Johnny was in a fog, but managed to find his way back to friendly lines. He was medevaced to the fleet hospital in Southampton where he pleaded with the Doctors to listen to him. The carnage didn’t have to continue, he said. The Others only wanted a small reservation to recuperate before continuing their interstellar voyage.
“That’s why they didn’t wipe us out.” he told the Doctors. “They could have — we’d all be dead, you know?”
“We can’t let him near the others.” said the Colonel. “He will destroy morale.”
‘But he’s not the first one to come back saying these things.” said the Doctor.
“Shut your fucking mouth.” said the Colonel. “We can find other Doctors if you know what’s good for you.”
The Doctor retreated and looked at the floor.
“What should we do about Corporal Buffalo?” said the Doctor.
“Corporal Buffalo doesn’t exist. He died in that alien bunker. Understand?”
The Doctor nodded wisely to the Colonel.
“What should we tell his family?” said the Doctor.
“Leave that to me.” The Colonel replied.
I opened the door, my hands sweating. The Marine outside was a Colonel. It seemed odd to me for some reason, but then again it was my Johnny they had come to tell me about. Not just any Marine would do.
“Sir, I’m sorry to tell you, but your husband — Sergeant Buffalo — was killed in action yesterday. He died heroically defending his fellow Marines in a pitched battle against the enemy. He saved many lives, and he is a true hero. I believe his actions have helped turn the tide of this war.”
The Colonel didn’t sound convinced.
And neither was I.
“You’re a fucking liar.” I said.
The Colonel grimaced slightly and rubbed his white-gloved hands together.
“Such is the nature of war.” He said.