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Adventure Fiction

This story contains themes or mentions of physical violence, gore, or abuse.

I felt the breeze against my skin. Then I saw a soldier rip a baby from its mother's arms. He swung it by the ankle against the concrete wreckage beside us with a thwack. He threw the baby aside like he was littering, and his dogs tore into it. I was in shock, staring at the grotesque scene of infant flesh being torn from its bones with eyes wide. The sound of bones breaking under the force of the dog’s jaws was just too surreal. The soldier stood over the mother who was hysterically crying. He grabbed her by the hair and walked her over to a car that was on fire. He pressed her face against the hot metal. I could smell her flesh burning. Even at a distance I could see her skin melt and drip away like water from a leaky faucet. His fellow soldiers laughed at her anguished cries.


With my hands bound behind my back, I rushed the soldier in front of me while his attention was diverted. Getting past him, I rounded the wreckage of a falling building. I ran as fast as I could amongst piles of rubble with my hands behind my back. The soldiers shot at me, kicking up dust and gravel. I cut into a building to avoid their bullets. I saw a rough, rusty rod sticking out of some concrete. I stopped long enough to rub the ropes binding my hands against it to free them.


Just as I freed my hands, I heard a low rumbling growl behind me. I turned and looked up. There on top of the concrete was one of the soldier’s dogs. It leapt at me, knocking me over. It jumped on top of me. I had to use all of my strength to keep it from tearing into my face. Drool dripping down on me, its breath, warm and foul. I grabbed a piece of rubble; a handful of concrete that I slammed it into its head. Grabbing onto its collar, I wouldn’t let it up. I kept smashing. It yiped. Its skull cracked. Blood sprayed. Finally, I stopped and dropped the rock, exhausted, covered in sweat.


I heard a gunshot. I dropped and covered my head. I looked in the direction the shot came from. A woman in civilian clothes was lowering her rifle. I heard a thud behind me, and I looked. On the concrete was a soldier who had snuck up behind me. I looked back at the woman. She was waving at me to hurry her way.


 She muscled open a door that led deeper into the building. We ran from room to room until we came out onto the other side of the building. I heard in the distance explosions and gunfire, men and women screaming, the sound of tanks, and buildings crumbling. She led me away from that, mainly moving through buildings. We exited one building and she let out a noise like that of a rooster. The same noise came from the building across the street. We climbed over a pile of rubble where other men and women in civilian clothes were gathered.


The woman was greeted by two men and a woman who I assumed to be her superiors. She talked to them as a man took me aside, giving me a blanket and a hot can of beans. He said something to me, but it was in a language I didn’t understand. In fact, everyone was talking in this unfamiliar language.


I dug into the beans. They were meaty and tangy with little chunks of bacon in them. After not eating for three days, they tasted as good as lamb medallions with mint jelly. As I was eating, the woman came back. She looked at me like she was going to say something then paused. She was trying to figure out how to communicate with me. She put two hands together, laid her head on them, and closed her eyes. Sleep. Then she made wave like motions with her hand. Water, snake, I don’t know. I motioned for a drink, and she was happy to get me some water. The next word I knew. America. She posed like The Statue of Liberty anyway. I nodded my head and said, “America,” to let her know I understood that tomorrow she will take me to a boat bound for America. I finished my beans and water and stretched out with my blanket, falling fast asleep.


I woke to the sound of gunfire. Everyone was frantically running around getting into position, returning fire. One man gave me a machine gun and showed me how to use it. I shook my head, no. I had never used one before and I was scared. He pushed it into my chest and left. I went and I laid on the pile of rubble like everyone else. I timidly pulled the trigger. Bullets came flying out and the force knocked me back. I got back up, that time ready, and I started shooting. I had no idea what I was shooting at. It was pitch black. But I do know I was being shot at because gravel and dust were kicked up in my face.


Out of the darkness came a horrible yell as the enemy stormed across the street. We were vastly outnumbered. The small wall of rubble did present an obstacle for our attackers. We shot down many before they breached that line, overrunning us. I got tackled. The soldier pulled out a knife and aimed it at my heart. I used both hands to block him, but he used both hands to apply pressure. I felt the knife pierce my skin. It was like a needle prick at first. Then it got deeper despite my efforts to keep him from stabbing me. I could feel the cut get wider and the knife penetrate the muscle. I started to panic as my arms grew weaker and the knife slowly sank deeper.


Then a shot rang out. It was her. My savior, warrior angel. She grabbed me and led me to the back of the building. She guided me out the far side. We ran from building to building, dodging soldiers everywhere we went. The sun was rising and with every passing second the more anxious she became. She got me to the beach where a man was waiting with an inflatable boat. They got me in and covered me with a tarp. The driver of the boat sped off to a cargo ship waiting off the coast. As soon as I was on board, the ship set a course for open waters. There were nineteen of us they were able to rescue and smuggle out that day.


When The Statue of Liberty came into sight, we were all jubilant, hugging and cheering. We were met at the docks by social services, who were notified of our arrival ahead of time. There was a lot of information they went over with us and a lot of paperwork to fill out, but when it was all said and done, I had a place to live, food to eat, and some spending money as long as I looked for a job.


I met with an employment specialist who got me a job at a factory that was walking distance from my apartment. It paid more money than I had ever made in my life, plus benefits. My boss spoke my language, which was good because I had just started English classes at night a week before. He set me up with a man who was supposed to teach me the assembly process. Before he did, he said a lot of things to me that I didn’t understand. His tone was gruff, his face angry, his body language rigid. I assumed he was mad. I didn’t know why he was mad. I was confused. I just nodded.


I caught on to the job quickly. It wasn’t hard. You just had to focus on what you were doing. I was making my quota or better every hour. I was happily doing my job one day when one of my coworkers came and knocked all my parts on the floor.


“It’s bad enough you foreigners come over here taking all our jobs, but now you have to show us up too. Slow down or the bosses are going to expect that kind of production from all of us.”


Between my English classes and the job, I was learning the language pretty fast too. I knew what he said. I just kept my mouth shut. I was only eighteen and most of these guys were twice my age. I focused on picking up my parts so I could get back to work. Despite his intrusion, I still hit my quota for the day.


On the way home, a pick-up truck came to a screeching halt right next to me. Three guys from work hopped out. One hit me over the head with a beer bottle. A mixture of warm wet and cold wet could be felt on the back of my head. Another guy shoved me to the ground where another man kicked me in the head. Two guys lifted me up by the arms and held me while the third guy punched me in the face repeatedly. I thought I was going to pass out. My legs gave out from beneath me. They hoisted me back up and started on my stomach.


“I think that’s good boys. Let’s see if he understands that.”


I limped to work the next day, my face swollen and bruised. My boss asked me what happened. I told him everything. He sent me home, saying I couldn’t work in that condition. He also said he would talk to the guys responsible, but with it happening off the work site, there was nothing he could do. I returned to work a couple days later and made sure to miss my quotas. At the end of the day, when the supervisor came around, he put a sympathetic hand on my shoulder and nodded before patting me on the back and walking off.


I graduated from my English class, earned my General Education Degree, received an associate degree from LaGuardia, quit the factory and moved into the dorms at NYU. There, I worked bussing tables and washing dishes at the campus café while earning a bachelor’s degree in education. Then I took a job as a teacher’s assistant while I studied for my master’s degree. I moved to Albany to take a job as an associate professor and write my dissertation. I earned my doctorate and became a full-fledged professor. Life in academia was far more accepting, far more enriching, far more rewarding.


Ten years after coming to America, I did some research and sought out my warrior angel. I contacted her and she met me in the city for dinner one night. I got to tell her thank you in English for getting me out of that war-torn country and away from that oppressive regime. That night, when we parted ways, she kissed me on the cheek, thanking me for letting her see what her work does for the people she helps. We’ve been in touch ever since.

March 04, 2024 12:11

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8 comments

Asia W
08:32 Mar 05, 2024

This is so evocative, you have such a lovely writing style!

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Helen A Smith
08:15 Mar 14, 2024

A great story told from the point of view of an immigrant. Confronted by the brutal reality of war. It had emotional depth and showed the ongoing problems he had to face and his determination to succeed and make a life for himself no matter what. He did not give up hope.

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Kayden Solace
05:20 Mar 13, 2024

That escalated quickly. This was a very good story, nice descriptions and pacing. One thing I would recommend is watching out for the word "I" and trying to avoid overly wordy sentences. Otherwise this is amazing. :)

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Ty Warmbrodt
06:11 Mar 13, 2024

Thank you for the tips. I appreciate that.

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Kayden Solace
19:27 Mar 16, 2024

No problem.

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Mary Bendickson
17:15 Mar 04, 2024

Coming to America...

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Trudy Jas
14:46 Mar 04, 2024

I knew you would come up with something. Great story, Ty. Told very matter-of-fact. As if allowing the pain and horror to penetrate would have been too much for the narrator.

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Alexis Araneta
13:14 Mar 04, 2024

Ty, what a wonderful and hopeful tale. The tension you built when the protagonist was still in their war-torn country was brilliant. Beautiful flow, as usual. Lovely job.

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