“Surrender! For God’s sake, surrender!” yelled Captain Ambrose LeRoux of the Secularist Army at the last Fundamentalist soldiers cowering behind the hastily thrown together fortifications in what remained of McNair Field in the small town of Forest City, North Carolina.
“Never! God be to the glory!” came a reply, and LeRoux’s heart sank. They stayed back as much as they could, fearing that a rush would prompt what many feared: the Fundamentalists blowing up whatever munitions and explosives they had left in one last spasm against the coming Secularist victory. Since the war began two years to this very day, the Secularist armies all over the world had overcome the Fundamentalist armies initial offensive gains and, slowly but surely, turned the tide of war.
LeRoux’s superior officer, Colonel Lionel Groves, brought up the anniversary and said, “Hard to believe it’s going to end on the second anniversary of the president’s death.” Groves commanded the 22nd Artillery Division of the 7th Secularist Army, and had done so for the last sixteen months.
LeRoux replied, “Sir, it’s been a bastard, that’s for sure. Today is July 4, 2019, and I remember seeing it happen on television when I was based in Germany.” LeRoux commanded one of the guns that had the ball field over open sights, with the gun barrel virtually parallel to the ground.
“Germany, huh?” Groves said, “How bad did it start out there?”
“Pretty bad. East Germans who wanted to go back to communism started attacking those who didn’t, German skinheads started butchering minorities, and then the Muslims went nuts all over. We had to fight against Lord knows how many different groups before we were able to get out of Europe.” LeRoux replied.
LeRoux was a short, skinny Quebecois compared to the tall, thick build of the African American Groves. LeRoux was in his early thirties while Groves gray hair gave away his fifty plus years. They had been together since the drive from the north began several months ago as the Fundamentalists retreated back to their southern stronghold. Now, all that remained were the few dozen crammed into the old ballpark where the Forest City Owls of the Coastal Plain League played, and they were determined to not go down easily.
One of the runners for the infantry that were dug into the pits where the Dollar General once was as well as the former Cool Springs High School came up and said, “They’re going to rush the ball field. Better be ready for the big boom.” The young runner was named Gaines, and LeRoux couldn’t imagine he was close to twenty, with his short, skinny build and youthful face.
“Oh shit!” Groves said solemnly. “Don’t the big wigs know that these poor bastards are going to get butchered?”
“I think they don’t want this going on any longer. This is the last major stronghold they have, and if they break them here, the smaller insurgencies will be forced to surrender.” the runner replied.
The runner left and LeRoux crossed himself in prayer, and he watched the young kid duck into the trenches and brought the bad news to the ground pounders in front of him. He had no idea what they were saying, but it couldn’t have been pleasant.
Just as nightfall was about to come, and before the final rush came at the setting of the sun, the world suddenly blew up, throwing LeRoux backwards almost twenty yards. “Christ!” he said when he was finally able to catch his breath, not noticing the piece rubble that had impacted no more than three yards from him. He slowly lifted himself off of the ground and found the body of Groves just a few yards away, with the colonel’s head and parts of his torso knocked back another couple of yards further back. Having already seen his share of grizzly scenes, LeRoux called for his troops to come together.
“They’re gone! The bastards are gone!” someone yelled, and LeRoux looked over at where the last bastion of the Fundamentalist Army had been. The makeshift fortifications had been blown away, and a huge crater lay where the infield and stands once stood.
“Jesus Christ!” LeRoux said softly when he saw what had happened. The poor sods that had been in the trenches had been slammed with the force of the explosion as well as the shrapnel from the force of the fortifications being expelled from the epicenter of the explosion. Silence slammed down all around, save for a few groans here and there. Medics rushed to those groans to try and offer any aid they could.
“Is it over?” someone asked. LeRoux looked around and saw no remaining enemies around. He ordered someone to get on the radio and find out if any other Fundamentalists forces were still fighting. To his stunned amazement, what remained of them had either killed themselves in similar but smaller explosions or surrendered to the Secularist forces.
Hours later, as the first rays of the sun came up on July 5, 2019, the senior generals gathered around the remains of the last battlefield of the last great war that humanity ever fought. “It’s over. Every indication we have gotten from our communications with allied forces shows that the enemy has been defeated.” said General Robin Crabtree, who looked as if he hadn’t slept since the war began, with his white hair sticking out of his US Army hat. He green gray uniform as dirty and wrinkled, but no one cared. No one cheered or shouted when victory was proclaimed, and LeRoux understood why: the aftermath was just beginning, and more people would die in the time between victory and the restoration of the infrastructure that provided vital goods to the masses.
Later that day, as LeRoux began the slow march back to the west, he came over a horrific scene. A young mother and father were standing over the body of their young child, wailing away as another family member, his face wet with tears, dug a grave along the side of the road to bury the corpse. For a moment, it got to the Quebecois man, and he looked at his automatic rifle, pondering if it was time for himself to end the misery for him. Then he shook his head and continued to walk on, determined to not allow someone so young to have died in vain. He didn’t know how to go about it, but he decided to do what he could to help rebuild. He knew it would take forever, but the beginning had to start now.