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Paper Soldier

by Al Onia

About the Author: Al Onia is a full-time writer living in Calgary, Canada. His debut novel Javenny was released by Bundoran Press in August 2014. His second novel, Transient City, was released by Bundoran in April, 2016 and the sequel, Rogue Town, launched in 2017. The Sixth Helix will release in 2019. His short fiction has appeared in Ares, Perihelion SF, On Spec, The Speculative Edge, Heroic Fantasy Quarterly, Spinetingler, Marion Zimmer Bradley and the anthologies Visions VI: Galaxies, AB Negative, and others.


Sun Meadows Mobile Home Estates was as innocuous camouflage as any, Kent reflected as he wheeled his bicycle through the stuccoed gate pillars. Clichéd idyllic names for such parks often belied the actuality of barely liveable double-wides occupied by barely sociable tenants. Sun Meadows’ citizens were hard-working, responsible people who took pride in their micro-community.

Kent’s façade allowed him to be the park’s benign uncle, willing to watch out for signs of trouble, whether trouble came in the form of toxic weed invasion, unleashed pets, children playing in the road or helping out with minor construction projects. His neighbors liked him and Marian. He had established the perfect disguise. Six years living under the radar had perfected his outer mask but not dulled his wariness. His twice-weekly rides to the post office were part of the routine. He enjoyed the routine and no camouflaged bait letter was going to upset his adopted life.

He waved to Johnny Baxter as the trucker started his cab. The deep-throated diesel rumble vibrated the ground as Kent stepped from his bike.

“Morning, Kent,” Johnny greeted. He jumped to the ground “Sorry I came in late last night. I-95 was a shit-show and I was hours behind checking in to the terminal.”

“I never heard you come in. You must have coasted past my place.” Kent chained his bike. He trusted everyone but once in a while, kids from adjoining districts would wander through, looking for easy pickings.

“Marian didn’t wake? I know she’s a lighter sleeper than you.”

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