Excerpt from The Blue House Raid

Marshall followed the high back of De Groot, with Kim and Boyle trailing. They went over the berm and crossed the last paddy obliquely from right to left. They climbed the short slope, approached the tree line, and, one by one, turned right.

Marshall took a step and looked into the trees, took another step, looked into the trees again. He poked his rifle, following the lieutenant’s lead. Twenty steps across, Marshall stopped, envisioning a face looking back at him, an Asian face with a trooper hat. Marshall’s rifle pointed into the trees with his finger resting between safety and trigger. Push, pull to release a round.

Marshall stared at the face but didn’t see it, saw only musky outlines of branch and brush. I’m real close to pissing my pants, thought Marshall. He remembered his second day in the army, in-processing at the reception center, prelude to eight weeks of basic training. He sat with a dozen other draftees on folding chairs, still in civilian clothes, their hair yet uncropped. A sergeant first class stood to their front telling them they could sign up for the regular army, extending their service one year, but getting to choose their branch. They could sign up for quartermaster, signal corps, whatever they wanted. The draftees smirked. Another year? Get out of town. Choice, not chance, said the sergeant.

Why didn’t I listen to him, thought Marshall. What the fuck was going through my head? Three years of anything else is better than two years of this shit. Three years of anything is better than one second of getting a hole blown through you.