Author : Eric Poch

“When legend becomes fact, print the legend”

-The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance

I’ve learned that if you put a man in a hole long enough, he’ll think of everything you could ever imagine. Put a dozen men in there long enough, and they’ll create the stuff of legend.

For the longest time we didn’t know what to call him, until one of the boys remembered a name they read in an old book. It was fitting.

We call him “La Longue Carabine”: The Long Rifle. Command swears up and down that he doesn’t exist. That it can’t be one man.

I know better.

Rumor spread fast as more and more of our boys were picked off. Slotikin thinks La Longue Carabine is a genetically enhanced soldier. He started ranting about intel that command had in its possession detailing the modifications the Reds made to their man. Some were believable: enhancements to the endocrine glands, rewired synapses for faster reflexes, modification to the pupils and iris to allow for low-light vision- the usual “super soldier” stuff. The more radical shit he came up with was frightening.

“I saw it. I’m telling you I saw it. They had pictures, man. The Reds grafted the rifle to his fucking arm. They got it wired to his brain so he doesn’t even need to use a scope. His eyes are the scope.”

Aside from the dozens of treaties they would be violating, we pointed out that the Reds wouldn’t surgically attach a rifle to a man’s arm; it would be too difficult to take off without killing him.

“You’re not getting it. They’re not planning to take it off. They’re not coming back to get him. That’s how the Reds work: They drop him out there and tell him to shoot ’till he’s dead. ‘For the motherland’ and all that bullshit.” He was getting too loud. “They wired their boy to kill, and that’s what he’s going to do. It’s not even about taking us out. It’s a fucking mind-game. Psychological warfare. Why do you think the uppers are covering it up? How come none of them get clipped? Have you ever thought about that?”

An MP overheard this and ordered him back to his bunk for a period of “mental leave.” As Slotkin was being escorted out of the mess hall he yelled back to us:

“He doesn’t sleep. How can you sleep if you don’t have eyelids? How can you sleep if you don’t have eyelids?” He just kept yelling that over and over as the MP dragged him out.

It’s been days since it happened, and Slotkin hasn’t spoken to anyone. The boys don’t know what to believe anymore… but I do.

I see him. Every day I look through my scope and there he is. Sometimes he’s bald, or fat. Sometimes he’s a woman. Today he’s short. Very young. He looks as though he hasn’t eaten in a week. He looks scared.

I watch him through my sight. He’s scanning the base… searching… looking for me. The weight of the rifle is making his arms shake. I bury the cross-hair in his chest. He keeps scanning. I flick the safety off. He’s almost got me in his sights when I pull the trigger.

No twitching or coughing up blood today. He drops, and I pack up and head to my bunk. I know there will be another tomorrow. A new legend. It will be my life against his, and they will call him La Longue Carabine.

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