Animal Cruelty

The first mortar round ought to act as a wake-up call. An ancient 82 mm HE shell skips over the blast walls at six a.m., smacks the middle of the outpost, and shreds three MRAP tires. Almost immediately, it’s followed by a second round, a dud, which manages to lodge itself into the roof over your head—a message you can’t help but take personally. Before EOD can dispose of it, you stare at the unexploded ordinance, at the ignition cartridge and fins comprising the tail, and wonder how to pull the projectile body out of the concrete without triggering the fuse.


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