I climbed the hill, switching back and forth, heading for chunks of outcropping rock and then toward the density of a protruding stand of low-lying bamboo. It was the Hill Trail climb my platoon at the Basic School had dreaded once a week in Virginia training, except I climbed in real fear of being shot in the back at any second. I didn’t look around to see the effect of the white phosphorous rounds I’d ordered. They were close in behind because not only did the thump of their exploding push gently against my back, the hiss of the burning elements raining down not far away could be heard like water running out of the end of a high pressure hose. I wondered if the rise I was struggling up might place me close enough to the falling horror of the burning phosphorous bits for them to reach me.

“Ironic,” I said out loud, unaware that I’d spoken until Fusner replied.

“Right here, sir,” he said as if I’d said something that made any sense.