A slice of Flash Fiction



Scariest thing on the planet is a stoned 11-year old with a Kalashnikov.

His parents are dead, most likely murdered right in front of him. He’s never been to school, can’t read or write or count past twenty, but the little fucker can field-strip and reassemble his AK74 in under ninety seconds, then put three center mass at a hundred yards.

His troop is his family now, his father figure some teen who has survived four or five years in this corner of hell already, who instead of killing him that first day, gave him a hit of heroin and showed him which end was the noisy bit of a gun.

He goes by a war-name – Li’le Piff, Baby 9, TNT, Chop Chop – given after his first kill or rape or village-razing. The one his Mother gave him has long since withered from neglect.

He’s not a rarity either. Some tragic exception. The country is thick with them, roaming in packs like feral dogs, savaging whatever, whoever gets between them and any whim that pops into their little drug-addled minds.

This is where you work. A place with a name you can’t pronounce that’s a bad joke disguised as 21st century nation. The currency is worth less than the paper it’s printed on. The government doesn’t deserve the title. There is no Police, no Fire or Paramedic Emergency Services. The only hospital within a hundred kilometer radius was shelled two years ago by rebels – or the army – and it hasn’t been rebuilt. Not that it matters because all the doctors fled or were rounded up. It’s a place so foreign, so far from normal civilization with 5G WiFi Hot Spot sushi bars and Prime Two-Day Delivery, it might as well be another planet. This is the ‘Mad Max meets Clockwork Orange’ world that you’re stuck in until your contract expires.

Or you do.

War Child International

As a father and grandfather, one of the most heart-rending aspects of writing Shift Tense was researching the tragedy of child soldiers in Africa. Consider for sixty seconds the notion of kidnapped children drugged, brutalized and brainwashed into front line combat. War, starvation, killing, death at age 8, or 10, or 12. Then if they live long enough, to grow into adulthood deformed and scarred by that savagery. I think about my sons and now my grandsons… how can I not give at least something to people who are actively trying to alleviate this kind of suffering?

I mentioned before I would donate a portion of Shift Tense sales to a related charity. After a bit of research, I selected War Child. They’re an international organization dedicated helping children affected by war. If you can, please give. If you can’t give money, then pray.

thank you
p. todoroff