(2004) No infringement upon the rightful owners of "Combat!" and the characters thereof is intended.  This piece of fan fiction is for enjoyment only, and in no way will the author gain monetary profit from its existence.

Author's Note: This story is a response to the 10-12-04 fanfic challenge to write a spooky squad story.


"The Carver"

by White Queen



The young soldier plunged in his knife hilt-deep, glad to feel it slide in so easily.  Carefully pulling it out, he stabbed again, then again.  His face held a look of fierce concentration as he made two more thrusts, then wiped the wet blade on his pant leg.  He wrinkled his nose, making a face that clearly meant ewwww and reached inside his victim.  He moved his hand around a bit, clutched what he could, and withdrew a handful of innards, the stringy sinews sliding through his fingers.  Dropping the slimy mess onto the ground beside him, he reached in for another handful.

"How's it coming, Billy?" asked Littlejohn, walking up to where his friend sat.

"I got the top off, but I really hate this part," Billy Nelson replied, dropping another wad of pumpkin goop onto the ground.

Littlejohn crouched beside him.  "Naw, this is the fun part."  He reached one hand inside the pumpkin and smiled.  "I feel like I'm only ten years old again whenever I clean out a pumpkin."

"Well, you can do it then."  Billy scooted away.  "But I still get to carve the face."

"Sure."  Littlejohn deftly scooped out the pumpkin, using his broken fingernails to scrape out the more stubborn parts.

Kirby ambled over and stood over the two of them, a cigarette dangling oh-so-casually from his lips.  "If Sarge comes back and finds you two carving a pumpkin…."  He shook his head dourly and walked back toward the fire he and Caje had built.

"Leave them alone, Kirby," Caje admonished.  "They're just having fun."

"Yeah, well it don't seem like a very soldierly thing to do, if you ask me," Kirby huffed, throwing his spent cigarette into the fire and reaching for another one.

"Well, nobody asked you, did they," Doc said, mildly.  He watched Littlejohn finish cleaning the pumpkin and motion for Billy to start carving.

"This is gonna be the scariest jack-o-lantern you ever saw," Billy promised.  He used his thumbnail to scratch out a brief outline on the nicest side of the pumpkin.  "No peeking," he warned.

Littlejohn laughed and shook his head.  "No peeking."  He looked around them at the bare trees that surrounded their post just outside a blackened French town.  The air was crisp, but tinged with smoke from the still-smoldering buildings.  The ground where he sat was cold, and slightly damp, and littered with dead leaves and bits of debris.

Billy stuck the end of his tongue out of his lips as he concentrated on his carving.  He was so intent, he never noticed Sgt. Saunders approach, pause, and then stand looking over Billy's shoulder.  "I'm almost done," Billy promised, looking up from his work at Littlejohn.  He noticed Littlejohn was looking intently just over Billy's own shoulder, turned his head, and started when he realized just who was towering over him.

"Oh, uh, hi, Sarge," Billy tried to grin.

Saunders nodded solemnly, but didn't speak.

"I was just, uh, killing some time.  Littlejohn and me, we found this pumpkin…and it's Halloween tomorrow…and, well, I thought…" Billy's words dwindled as he waited for his squad leader to yell at him.

But Saunders simply nodded at the emerging jack-o-lantern.  "Scary," he said approvingly, then sauntered off to join the others by the fire.



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