The Last Outpost in the Peloponnesian War

The Last Outpost in the Peloponnesian War

“They want Pepsi again.”

The sun was high and glared against the hard, flat surfaces which stretched around them at all sides, mountains rising up further in the distance than they appeared to be. She awkwardly swiped at the sweat that had already formed on her brow, pulling her helmet down slightly as she did so. He wasn’t even looking at her; her boots on the metal stairs loud, the whole structure flimsy enough to rattle as she’d climbed.

She didn’t have to look either, “We don’t have any more fucking Pepsi.” She joined him at the edge, looked where he was still gazing lazily. A cluster of children was screaming beyond the wire, their words an unintelligible mess. Pepsi and obscenities, English as a second language in a war zone. It was all they ever said.

His gun was halfway aimed at them, “I could just shoot them all.”

“It’s tempting. Wait ‘til they pick up some rocks, you could claim you thought it was a grenade.”

“Fucking Pepsi.”

“Fucking Pepsi.” She agreed.

“You think they’d believe it?”

“Maybe out here.” The barrel of her own weapon rested on the lip of the tower’s enclosure now, although she was looking in the opposite direction.

“Birds in a barrel.”

“I think you mean fish.”

“Not out here.”

She smiled, “Too much Al-Bashar for you.”

He shrugged, finally moved back from the edge slightly, “At least they had Pepsi.”

“Just get some sugar and food coloring, dye the water and toss it in. Tell ‘em it’s Pepsi. Tell yourself it’s Pepsi.”

“Clean out the shitter, tell them the water is Pepsi.”

“Tell yourself it’s Pepsi. Just sprinkle in some sugar.”

“Tell your own self it’s Pepsi.”

“I don’t like Pepsi.” She laughed, shortly, “Fucking Pepsi!”

“You’re a Coke person? Fuck, stuck with someone who drinks Coke. This blows.”

“Pepsi sucks.”

“Coke sucks.”

“You suck.”

“You swallow.”

Silence, the same general arguments catching their own tails. She squinted toward the mountains, their greenery seeming to shimmer with the rising heat. There was snow toward their tops, but it was invisible in the haze. She wasn’t sure it actually existed, anyway. She’d never been near it.

The wall clanged mutely, but she did not turn, “Rocks?”


“They look like grenades yet?”

He leaned forward a bit, trying to make himself believe, but settled for a sigh, “No.”

“Have any flash-bangs?”



More clangs, voices growing louder. He fiddled with the safety on his weapon, the click-click-clicks much softer than the rocks against the wall, “Fuck, I swear those rocks are fucking breeding out there. They never run out.”

“Maybe at night they don’t sleep, they just go dig up rocks and save them to throw at us.”

“They buy them on Ebay.”

“And they try to outbid each other for the best rock.”

“And then fight over who has the best fucking rocks.”

“Like pogs and Beanie Babies.”

“That you throw at people. Dumb shits. I never threw pogs at people.”

A pause, and then, “I wish we had pogs out here.”

“I learned math from pogs.”

“You would.”

“Fuck you.”

She re-joined him at his side, “There’s nothing out there.”

“There never is.” He adjusted the strap on his weapon needlessly, “We never get the cool shifts.”

She was leaning against the edge, looking inwards toward the massive tents and hastily constructed buildings, the people moving around so slowly in the sunshine. Her eyes settled on one who had stopped to stare at her, and she hastily turned around, avoiding their gaze, “Any grenades yet?”

“I could shoot at their feet. Or next to them.”

“You could. But they’re used to that.”

“Fucking war zone kids. Why can’t they be normal?”

“They should go home and come back in five years to shoot us.”

“I like that plan. Then we can shoot them.”

“Yeah, and still not give them Pepsi.”

“Does that mean no Pepsi for us for five years either?”

“No fucking Pepsi. Or Coke.”

“Fuck. They would do that to us, wouldn’t they?”

“Of course they would. Just fruit punch. Sometimes tropical.”

“Think they’d like that?”


“In a few years, we could give them porn. Then they’d go away.”

She frowned, “No fucking way, that shit’s way too valuable. Just draw them some stick figures having sex.”

“That’s hard.” He frowned, too, deep in thought, “Maybe we could give them something we don’t like?”

“Take McKinley’s porn. Bet it’s all weird goat shit, anyway.”

“No wonder they never let him out on patrol…”

“Yeah, he’d steal goats, make them all mad out there.”

“Goats mysteriously disappearing.” He laughed, “No more fucking goats!”

“No, no, too much fucking goats. Isn’t he next to you?”

“Fuck!” He smacked the butt of the rifle, but his voice was light, “What did I do on deployment? I had no Pepsi, the guy next to me fucked goats, and kids threw rocks at me! Just like all the WWII stories!”

“I’m gonna start looking for goats that look like him.”

“I’m gonna tell all the kids these stories.” He leaned back, “Fuck, the kids won’t even know what the fuck pogs are.”

“Nothing’s good any more. They don’t even play Space Invaders on their phones.”

“My fucking phone doesn’t even work anymore.”

“No Pepsi and no phone? Did you shit in the chaplain’s boots?”

“It was probably one of those fucking goats.”

“That shit in the boots or that broke your phone?”

“Both. It drank all the Pepsi, too.”

“Always with the Pepsi…” She drummed her fingers against the hot metal absentmindedly, “Wonder who did shit in the chaplain’s boots.”

“The fucking goat!”

“Maybe it was McKinley. Chaplain told him to read the bits about no bestiality.”



“It’s truth, then.” A pause, “Bet the chaplain is the one who keeps taking the porn.”

“Grabbing under our pillows, saving it up.”

“Telling us to read our Bibles and then enjoying our porn.”

“It’s hard to get that shit in here!”

“Takes it all and enjoys it… tapes it into that stupid camo Bible when we’re not looking.”

“Bet the goat helps!”

“The goat is in on it. They take the Pepsi, too.”

“Back to the fucking Pepsi!”

She tipped her head, then, the smile sliding from her face. The racket from the children had faded away, “You hear that?”

He straightened up, as if to get a better listen for himself. There was a slight whistling noise in the still air. “Yeah, it sounds like…”

“A whistle…”

And the sky was so blue.

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