War and the supernatural—two completely different genres yet easily intermingled. It is done all of the time in literature, on TV, and in the movies. The key, however, is to do it successfully, to make it believable, so that your audience will not groan and roll their eyes as the story progresses. Assuming your audience is still with you after the first groan.
Sometimes the supernatural is invisible and one wonders if it is real. Yet the feeling of being threatened by something unexplainable is inescapable. After all, who dismisses a “gut feeling” honed by the experience of sustained combat when the senses may be the only thing to save you? For example, to a half-frozen Waffen SS platoon outside of Moscow confronted by Siberian troops lurking in a dense and shadow-filled forest; the Germans know they are there, but there is the feeling that there is something else. The question upon which survival hinges is, are the Siberians the only threat in the forest or is there something else in the forest, something unknown and dangerous?
Perhaps American troops in Iraq are testing a new generation of night vision goggles using cutting edge technology and near-mystical computer software. Maybe the goggles really do strip away the night to an extent only dreamed of. The combatant who can see in the night has the advantage over the enemy. And—considering the human eye sees a very small fraction of the electromagnetic spectrum—perhaps the goggles really do reveal “things” that can’t be. Yet, can one ignore the evidence of goggle-enhanced eyes?
When one considers that the universe is filled with electromagnetic energy from the greatest star to the smallest quarks, baryons, mesons, and bosons, is it impossible to believe that objects may actually “vibrate” with energy? And perhaps the energy of prayers and the spoken word can imbue otherwise inanimate objects, such as cult objects, with a power and a life of their own. Sometimes this power and life should remain undisturbed. But, if this power or life is unleashed and is confronted, does one say “it can’t be” or does one believe the evidence of their own eyes?
Yes, war and the supernatural easily go hand in hand; the key is to give the premise an easily understood and believable foundation. Add a believable plot, believable characters and dialogue, and take off from there. Remember, there are as many ways to blend war and the supernatural as there are writers. I’m eager to see how you do it. Good writing and much success in your writing career!
SS Hampton, Sr. is a full-blood Choctaw of the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma, a divorced grandfather to 13 grandchildren, and a veteran of Operations Noble Eagle (2004-2006) and Iraqi Freedom (2006-2007). He has served in the Army National Guard since October 2004, and holds the rank of staff sergeant. He is a published photographer and photojournalist, an aspiring painter, and is studying for a degree in photography and anthropology—hopefully to someday work in underwater archaeology. His writings have appeared as stand-alone stories, and in anthologies from Dark Opus Press, Edge Science Fiction & Fantasy, Melange Books, Musa Publishing, MuseItUp Publishing, Ravenous Romance, and as stand-alone stories in Horror Bound Magazine, Ruthie’s Club, Lucrezia Magazine, The Harrow, and River Walk Journal, among others. As of December 2011, he became the latest homeless Iraq war veteran in Las Vegas, Nevada.
“The Lapis Lazuli Throne.” Ed. Stephen Morgan. Musa Publishing, April 2012.
BLURB: During the Iraq War supply convoys rumbled out of Kuwait every day, bound for Baghdad. These convoys traveled on MSR Tampa, one of the most dangerous roads in the world, battling insurgent ambushes and IEDs. It is on one such convoy that an IED took out a gun truck and wounded Specialist Ken Adams. His gun truck commander took the fight to nearby insurgents, but in the aftermath he committed a disrespectful act. In the following weeks the entire gun truck crew was stalked by something unknown, and they disappeared one by one, until only Ken Adams was left, cornered in Las Vegas…
EXCERPT: The desert was alive. Damp foul smelling sand exploded in a white flash. Smoky red and yellow tentacles snaked out of the sand. He tried to scream, but the tentacles choked him. Other screams tore through the boiling smoke that stung his eyes and fouled his mouth. He was suffocating. He swung his arms wildly through the heavy hot air as the ground gave way beneath him. He was being pulled into the living desert...
Specialist Ken Adams, the Gunner of his gun truck, picked at his meal of cheeseburgers, French fries, and salad. The mess hall, no wider than a pair of double wide trailers and twice as long, was almost empty. Other than an evening kitchen crew, the only occupants of the mess hall were gun truck soldiers preparing to go out on another convoy security escort mission.
They were escorting another supply convoy of forty-five white trucks, the civilian manned eighteen-wheel tractor trailers that had arrived that afternoon at Convoy Support Center Navistar. The small, cluttered, dusty camp a mile south of the Iraqi border, a jumping off point for the 2003 invasion of Iraq, was now manned by mobilized Army National Guard soldiers. After sunset, four HMMWV gun trucks would escort the supply convoy to Cedar, the first CSC on Main Supply Route Tampa. There, they would then turn the convoy over to other escorts, who would take the convoy further north. The gun truck crews would have time for a quick breakfast before they picked up an empty convoy returning to Kuwait.
It was just another typical mission for Ken and his buddies. He grabbed a pair of bananas on the way out the door.
They met their convoy of white trucks at the Convoy Movement Center, the dusty marshaling lot on the other side of a narrow dusty track across from Navistar. The soldiers checked the drivers’ paperwork and made a quick mechanical inspection of the trucks. It was a tedious but necessary process. Ken alleviated the boredom by raiding the packed bag of bubble gum Lenny had packed for the mission. Lenny loved bubble gum, and whenever care packages were put on the mail table for everyone to help themselves, he was one of the first to paw through them, searching for bubble gum…