Selections from The Infinite Casualty Lists
Information provided where available.
Karcher, D. Pushed into an active Harrier jet engine by laughing heroes.
Abramson, S. Glue sniffer, poor shot even when sober. Immolated.
Bessen, P. Shot in face.
Power, B. Sealed in disused oil drum, buried in unmarked plot in secret mercenary graveyard.
Hajdari, B. Never reconciled the worst tendencies of his father with the mild neglect of his mother; cursed with: soft belly, carpal tunnel, ankles that crunched like bags of chips. Pulled close to hero’s chest, neck broken.
Shan, C. Rumored trombone player. Throat slit.
Humphrey, S. Major character flaw: allowing others to make all decisions for him, but never following them through, ending up caught between ideas he didn’t have and places others expected him to be; bonus: night sweats, gigantism, apple polisher in both senses. Slowly crushed by flaming tank driven by comic relief.
Marlow, K. Often got drunk near water, to imagine carelessly drowning, carried down a dark, unknown current to settle on a soft hillock of sand far below the surface. First day on the job, shot in the face.
Jones, B. Loved pornographic cartoons, sheets fresh from the dryer, bloodplay as icebreaker. Head crushed between hero’s hands.
Riordan, N. Patriarch; father of six, four of whom followed his mercenary footsteps; never prone to realizations, epiphanies, or planning for the future; named all his children starting with the letter that began his own in an act of overt arrogance but also of profound love. Left dangling from cliff until grip lost.
Akpabio, M. Last day before retirement. Shot in the face.
Oriji, K. Stuffed with uncooked rice, pumped full of water, left to explode in the hot summer sun.
Jackson, W. Grenade nestled between gum and cheek, in jest, as if he was mid-tobacco chew, then, explosion.
Constantinides, K. Shook with adrenaline and desire first time he saw a man naked—the man an old school friend of his father’s who’d spent the night en route somewhere else—the situation an accident (opening a bathroom door, the man stepping out of the shower), but the moment lingered, longer than either anticipated, until his father’s friend walked toward him, hair wet like the fur of a just born calf, and shut the door. Duct taped to ignited rocket.
Danner, J. Shot over forty men in less than eighteen months; couldn’t recall the face of his only child. Set on fire, pushed off cliff.
Pan, D. Found a woman in a cult after he’d assassinated their leader, took her home, married her, never bothered to ask her what it was like living in a world that fragile, that small. Spine severed.
Tran, V. While on duty, missed: warm water, the taste of smuggled American chocolate, porno with only girls in it, clean bandages, his father before his switch flipped and he didn’t know him anymore, the sticky rice his mother used to make for him, the creak of a new leather belt. Shot with flaming arrow, kicked into roaring fan blade.
Rogers, J. Hypnotized, lured into bottomless pit.
Albertson, M. The kind of guy who sneezed while trying to hide in the shadows. Found in shadows, shot.
Braun, K. Never learned to associate the act of love with emotional vulnerability. Microwaved.
Vasquez, J. Excited by the idea of dying, that it was always possible one might not see it coming, that one might miss the tripwire in the dark, or the red dot laser sight skimming the surface of the chest, tickled that it would dance across the heart it meant to quell. Shot by sniper, thrown out of moving helicopter.
Riordan, N. First son of Riordan, N.; watched in silence from a darkened corner, quieting his own breathing, as his grandmother fellated a man who had shown up threatening to murder his grandfather; fell in love with every new girl at his school until one scared him into dropping out by loving him back. Hung as an example to others by supervillain.
Simmons, J. Sundered by evil robot gone haywire.
Wetzel, K. Fell hard for Lee, V., but never spoke to any feelings, let alone love, for another man; otherwise, once fucked one of the Wonderland Murder girls. Bifurcated by helicopter blade.
Koçi, Z. Imagined, in the scant space between realization and reaction, that a certain unnamed, undiscovered place existed, blanketed in fine mist, with scattered bent trees whose low-hanging boughs created shadowed enclaves that children would call hiding places, where darkness was both a shield and an opening, a vulnerability, a hollowed-out bone, a blood-dried knife, the echo of a turning lock sounding down an empty corridor. Set on fire.
Dushku, B. Body picked over by locals for usable fabric and metal, woke mostly alive and naked, but wounded, and a sudden thirst rose up from his guts like a shot; stumbled down trail after trail in the dark, searching for water, fronds from low-lying plants brushing his genitals to stimulation; stopped to masturbate, feeling as though it might reconnect him to an urge to keep living, if he could just feel something akin to pleasure. Eaten by tiger.
Kondo, I. Helpless around women, knives. Thrown into man-size grinder.
Nguyen, V. Will live to tell the tale by crawling into the brush to hide while the rest are slaughtered; the future: accepted into a nearby village untouched by the skirmish, an enclave of peace and stasis, where he will marry a kind woman of uncommon goodwill and beauty who will deliver unto him a dozen children, many of whom will love him, many of whom will never know what kind of man he used to be. Peacefully in his bed,
surrounded by family, a long time from now.
Zimmermann, K. Thrown forty stories onto a single nail.
Riordan, N. Twin brother of Riordan, N., whom he treated like an invisible mirror; wracked by pain, despair, until he realized loneliness, even when experienced among his own flesh and blood, was a liquor he could drink to doneness. Skin flayed, eaten, bones broken into dust.
Firth, K. Dirty old man, easily understood. Asthmatic; inhaler crushed under hero’s boot.
Wetzel, E. Placed out of AP Math in high school; boiled kittens in his basement, once drinking the water just to see how it would taste; known to send out dick pics to all the boys he knew to stare too long at him in the locker room. Serrated knife to the abdomen, thrown off bridge.
Thomas, B. “I never thought, not for a million years, that I’d be here, in the middle of a desert, a kid from Lawrence who knew fuck all about how to clean an assault ri-”
Greene, A. Once kidnapped a senator’s daughter, only to fall in love and release her without ransom; last moments: counted the number of men, still warm, that lined the floor as he pushed his way through the cacophony of bullets singing past his eyes, the taste of his own blood in his mouth, no memories before now, just heart and blood and the salt of his skin. Shot in the middle of forehead, drained like a bathtub.
Aldoa, M. Haunted by a specific childhood memory—a fire spreading across his bedroom ceiling, his limbs unable to move from fear—which did not flash before him just as he died, but instead this: a gray shape, with limbs and human-like silhouette, beckoning him into an embrace, all around him the smell of burning hair, melting plastic; he touches his belly, a puddle of wet, and reaches out for the waiting hand. Arms removed with machete, thrown from bridge.
Kilgore, J. Comm specialist, repeated the Harvard Sentences to sleep—the slush lay deep along the street; it caught its hind paw in a rusty trap—the phonetic balance serving as the only foundation he could identify
(the juice of lemons he mumbled in his bunk to the nearby death rattles of his friends and other mercenaries,
can make a fine fine punch). Neck broken, torched, fed to nearby dogs.
Riordan, N. Twin to Riordan, N.; grew up thickly sibilant like a snake and inscrutable to everyone except his identical brother; studied to be an app developer; once huffed paint and saw God, but told no one for fear of being outed as someone who huffed paint and saw God; three weeks prior to dying: walked outside in the dark to take out the trash and far off in the distance—a shining door, a bolt of lightning at the end of the street, the glint in the eye of his maker—he could make out something that looked like a way out of what
he’d gotten himself into. Mouth stuffed with rags, suffocated.
Meier, F. Left to go take a piss into the dark woods around the base, seized by heroes, torn into small pieces, buried in several tiny graves.
Pascal, Jr., Q. Treated movie sequels as markers of time instead of investing in an awareness of mortality. Stabbed with ski pole during thrilling chase.
Riordan, N. Baby boy; opened every email with W..A_N T-_..T_O_-..H..A_V..E-__S E_X_? as the subject line; had a marriage so open he couldn’t find the boundaries anymore, so he left to find out what real mistakes were all about. Immersed in boiling oil; cooked.
Reynolds, K. Raised in a small apartment on a bad street by his grandmother, a woman who practiced an intolerance to all forms of joy, for whom he felt a fear that eroded over time into pity; virgin until age twenty-two, when he met a young white hillbilly from Arkansas who broke his heart; left to find what the world had to offer, but was mentally unable to fill out the Peace Corps application. Heart pulled out of chest, fed to dogs.
Trivette, A. Made a beeline out of Appalachia to a private liberal arts school in Massachusetts, chasing the humanistic ideal until he dead-ended in the palm of a lonely cabal of campus extremists; the night before he died dreamt of the last mountain in the world, a peak one could climb and see all of creation, and how he, armed with only a spade, would be the man to level it. Struck down by taxi cab on fire.
Yu, Z. Given secret of immortality, neglected to write it down.
McGuire, K. Unable to process events around him unless they posed bodily harm, unlikely to respond to stimulus that wasn’t potentially lethal, unwilling to realize that death comes in more ways than a man with a gun or a raised fist. Poison lipstick kiss from mysterious femme fatale.
Carlisle, G. Crept upon, shot in back of head, stuffed and mounted, kept in the underground display case of the leader of the band of renegade heroes.
Waksman, F. Poison gas, delivered via children’s party balloon.
Morrison, A. Decapitated in the shower humming Ricky Valance’s “Tell Laura I Love Her.”
Pritchard, P. No one found out she was a she until the end, when she got shot in the upper thigh; her boy rushing over, the one she secretly loved, to tend to her wounds; before he figured what she was all about, she pushed aside the biting pain of the bullet and let herself imagine he was pulling her pants off not
to staunch the bleeding, but to cause it. Drained.
Bausch, T. Awakes every day a fresh recruit in another part of the world: today knee-deep in mangroves dotting the Bach Dang, tomorrow on the parched outskirts of Kabul, the next in a cornfield terrorizing the kindhearted people of the desolate American Midwest; has been every color of man, every lost religion, contains the memories of a thousands of choked throats, bullets like needles, the soft edges of a repetition (the only times you see me are the times I lose; I lose all the time) wearing his heart and sleeves ragged, threadbare, with maps of planets not yet known imprinted behind his eyes. Today: Shot through thigh, neck, head. Tomorrow: Again.