Monday, June 3, 2019

Seven Skinny Cows: Battle of Bridge Street

The call came in as Chernovsky was picking the shreds of breakfast from between his teeth. He picked up the mic and asked, “Whaddya need?”

The soldiers could not make out the exact words but the speaker was clearly excitable.

Chernovsky asked “When?”

“Gotchya.” Chernovsky replied. “We are on it.”

“OK, boys. Game time. Spackle, take your squad and set-up. That call came from the bank by the corner of Creyts and East Road. Said there are a hundred hostiles coming our way.” Chernovsky said. “You got about five minutes. Make it count.”

“A hundred hostiles? We need everybody and we will still be outnumbered three-to-one.” Spackle responded.

“I don’t see a problem. You each carry ninety rounds. I ought to be able to send two of you and have eighty rounds to spare.” Chernovsky almost sounded bored, as if they had done this a thousand times before. “Just remember to aim before you stroke the trigger.”

In fact, it was Chernovsky’s forces first, hard contact with hostiles. Chernovsky was more nervous than he had been before his first college game. Football is physical but it is not a matter of life-and-death. That, and he was sending others into harms way. He would not have the release of physical activity to burn off the adrenaline and deplete the fight-or-flight impulse.

For all that, he was channeling the best coaches he had ever worked under. In a sense they had done it hundreds of times before. Every exercise, every time they flipped off the safety and changed magazines faster than conscious thought. The best pep-talks don’t challenge athletes to rise above their true ability. The best pep-talks call athletes to reach within themselves and tap the mastery they gained through countless repetitions.

Pep-talks that demand athletes play above their ability invariably result in the athlete “shitting the bed”. Pep-talks that tap mastery result in top 10% performances time-after-time-after-time. Mastery plus a healthy level of adrenaline do that.

“What is our mission?” Quinn asked.

“Same as always. Kill them. Kill them all.” Chernovsky responded.

After five seconds of staring at Chernovsky to see if he was making some strange kind of joke, Quinn said, “OK, men. Time to saddle up. Grab your guns and spare magazines. We have four minutes to get into position.

That was a bit of an exaggeration. If the hostiles were lolly-gagging then they might have as much as ten minutes. The downside was that the camp was as exposed as balls on a goose, perched on knobs in a hayfield where the vegetation had been beaten down by the crusty snow as it melted.

This was about a week sooner than they expected and had caught everybody off guard.

Fortunately, the men knew the southwest side of Dimondale like the backs of their hands. They had walked it countless times, dragging firewood and such.

As they double-timed to set-up Quinn said to Donnie “Wait here while I get the rest of the crew planted.”

Blue arrow is assumed direction of hostile advance. Red oval on left side of image is location of Chernovsky's camp. "D" is position of Donnie. Red keystones are the ambushing force. Southmost keystone is Quinn's position. Northmost keystone is Jason Weide's position. Dashed yellow-and-blue line is Windsor Drain.

Quinn told his fighters to align parallel to Bridge Street about 80 yards from the road. By now the fighters realized that Quinn’s directions were general guidelines. If the lay of the land demanded that the fighter be 100 yards from the road then that is where they would be. If there was a gap in cover then they would make adjustments.

Quinn picked Jason to be the gate-keeper. Jason was notable for his clear and deliberate diction. “Post up on Caruss Drive. You are my eyes-and-ears. Use the radio to let us know what is happening.”

Then Quinn trotted back to Donnie. Even though they were both Team Leaders Quinn was the senior leader. It was the simple recognition that Quinn could collect and process information quicker and with more surety than Donnie could.

“I want you to set up so you are looking up Bridge Street. You have the unsupressed AR. When I give you the command, I want you to open the party. Then, a couple of seconds later I will have the other guys open up from the side. Just remember, we will be stacked up to the west of your targets. Don’t shoot at any runners who leave the road heading west. That will be my job. Got it?” Quinn said.

“I start the party on your command. Everything in the road and east of the road is my meat. Anything west of the road is yours.” Donnie parroted back.

Quinn nodded his approval and then trotted back to his position. He chose to be west of the road, the most southern in the line of ambushers.

He looked to the north and saw his men with their backs to the road. They were on their knees or crouched down, hands and weapons in front of them. They picked positions that put tree trunks and rolls of earth between them and the road.

As a group they were running with a 150 yard zero on their suppressed, .22LR semi-automatics. That meant that that their rounds would be hitting nine inches above the point-of-aim according to the second cheat-sheet Quinn had taped to the buttstock of his AR. “Just a reminder. Belly-button point-of-aim to compensate for the range. Donnie will be starting the party. After his third shot, we join the party. By then nobody will be looking our way.”

Then there was nothing to do but wait. Quinn reached down with his left hand and grabbed a handful of mud and smeared it on his face. He had to watch the hostiles and had not thought to grab his balaclava.

Jason came on-line with a play-by-play description of the approaching hostiles. “They just broke the windows of the ice-cream shop and three of them went in.”

“I see a couple of them running up onto Granny Rollin’s porch and they are looking in her front windows.”

“I gotta kid on a bike riding out in front of them. Make sure you are down.”

In a couple of minutes the kid, maybe twelve, became visible. The ankle deep water on the south side of the bridge did not deter him. He was on a trick bike. Because he could move much more quickly than the group of hostiles he kept riding fifty, seventy yards ahead of them, turning around and then riding back.

Jason came back on-line. “I count thirty, maybe thirty-five of them.” Jason had counted the first group of ten and then estimated based on the length and density of the group.

Quinn thought "Better than a hundred but still outnumbered three-to-one."

In two more minutes Quinn was able to see for himself. Other than the bike rider the hostiles were bunched up into a group about twenty yards long. The biggest knot of people was about twenty feet back from the leading edge.

The bike rider rode up the the bend in Bridge Street within ten yards of Donnie and turned around. Donnie’s clothes were tattered and had lichens, moss and tree bark ground into them. It was a natural ghillie suit. Donnie picked a position beneath an isolated evergreen that had branches all the way down to the ground.

Jason said "There are a few stragglers who had become separated from the main group and won't be in the kill sack."

Quinn waited until the leading element, less the bike rider, were directly in front of him. Then he signaled Donnie. By previous arrangement the signal for “Fire at will” was three clicks on the mic.

Donnie had heard Chernovsky’s rebuke to Quinn, ““Just remember to aim before you stroke the trigger.” and thought it had been directed at him.

Donnie picked a target near the front of the swarm, the one that the others seemed to be orbiting around. He knew that Quinn’s direction to aim for the belly button was directed at the guys carrying the .22LRs. His AR shot much flatter than their weapons. Donnie settled the cross hairs of the Burris MTAC on the center of the dude’s chest and willed the AR to go off.

The target was 160 yards from Donnie’s position and Donnie was fully capable of hitting a golf ball at that range. The target appeared to trip and sag.

The person behind his target became visible. Donnie caressed the trigger again. Then he shifted to the right and fired again. Than again…..

At the first shot Quinn's fighters slowly spun around to face the road. For the first time they saw the opposing force. Quinn's fighters on the south end of the “fan” had five-to-eight hostiles in the zone they were responsible for. The fighter on the north end had far fewer.

The suppressed semi-automatic .22LRs made little more noise than a person snapping their fingers when firing. The hostile forces hyper-focused on the booming AR directly in front of them and remained oblivious to the threat from their side.

After five seconds of confusion and hesitation, the mob turned and started running north on Bridge Street. That is when the ambushers on the north end of the fan had a target rich environment.

One of the hostiles had an AR and seemed to have more situational awareness than his fellow hostiles. Quinn thought, “We can’t have that.” and he dumped him with a head shot. Other than that, Quinn kept over-watch. He knew from experience that his guys would be blinded by tunnel vision and were incapable of seeing targets that were not in their focal plane. Those threats were his to take care of.

In what seemed like both an eternity and a scant second, Bridge Street was free of standing targets.

After waiting in position for an agonizingly long ten minutes...Quinn used his watch because he did not trust his body clock...Quinn left his troops in position and went to examine the battle field.

There were seven bodies on the road. Donnie had emptied his thirty round magazine. The eight team members had emptied their twenty-five round magazines and Quinn had fired once.

Nobody had targeted the boy on the bike.


  1. Oh, poop. The kid. Dangit, Americans are just too soft. Always take the scout out. Always.

  2. Sepsis, coming soon to a story near you.

    1. In approximately 1101 words.

      Was I too obvious?

    2. No, just makes sense. Battlefield infection rates and all that , given the state of medical care in the story.

  3. No, not too obvious, it's just that you set the stage nicely in a previous chapter in the discussion of the .22 Well done.

  4. So... 200 rounds fired and only 15 down? That's pretty damn bad.

  5. Oops, make that 200 rounds and SEVEN down. That's even worse.

  6. 30 rounds per KIA is much, much better than the "norm" per KIA in the US army. MUCH better. Not saying that it's great... But the Army's ratio of shots fired to dead combatants is abysmal. 30 rounds per KIA in an ambush where you have a bunch of guys all shooting at another bunch of guys actually sounds pretty good. When things turn two-way and you're no longer at a nice comfortable bench at the range and you're shooting, moving, breathing like you just ran a marathon, shooting, moving and trying to stay alive while making the other guys dead, that's pretty darn good.