© Sue Vincent
Twenty-eight-year-old Lance Cain watched as Tamara’s ashes floated away over the small waterfall and down the frigid stream. As a veteran of the Talsan War and one of the few survivors of the Prog Lozab campaign, he had long since learned how not to cry, regardless of how harshly his emotions were twisting in his chest.
But somewhere inside the hardened fighter pilot, a little six-year-old boy was sobbing. That’s how old he was when his Mom died pulling him out of the fire that took his two brothers and three sisters. That was the day he swore no one else would die because of him.
The day he graduated officer’s training (and at the memory, he had to bite down on the inside of both of his cheeks, since Tamara was standing beside him at the ceremony), he not only took an oath to defend the Republic, but to defeat the alien horde that had sworn to eradicate humanity from existence, including his beloved fiancee Miranda, the girl he left behind on their homeworld of Senegale.
“Hey, Dancer. I don’t mean to interrupt, but we’ve got to get going. The sun’s setting, and in an hour it’ll be ten below.”
It’s the day after Thanksgiving and I’m exhausted. The holidays wipe me out, especially when I have to spend them with family.
I really wasn’t looking forward to that flight from Chicago to Oakland. Couldn’t get a direct one of course since I waited until the last minute, so the whole trip took nearly seven hours.
I really hoped Mom would have just accepted my excuse that I had too much work to do to take the time off, but she knows how to get her way. She’s always known how to manipulate me. She uses guilt, that’s a favorite. What about my ailing father? What about my sister and her obnoxious husband who never get to see me? What about all the snotty-nosed nieces and nephews who miss their Uncle Jerry.
Mick knew he only had a few minutes left. His son Tyler couldn’t stop the bleeding from his throat. Mick looked up and smiled. He wished he could tell him how much he loved him, Tyler and his little boy Jimmy.
Mick knew tomorrow’s Thanksgiving meal would taste like ashes to them, to Tyler’s wife Jenny, three months pregnant with their second child, a grandchild Mick would never know.
He knew they would find it hard to be thankful, but Mick was thankful.
He was thankful he’d stopped the son of a bitch from taking Jimmy.
The bastard had been preying on children all over Orange County for a year and a half, sneaking into houses at night, forcing a window or coming in through an unlocked patio door. He’d been taking children, probably followed them home from school or spotted them playing in front of their houses, cased their homes, set up a plan so he could kidnap them, rape them, and murder them.
Not this time.