Mini adventures. Mini Sci-Fi. Mini History. Mini Fantasy. Mini-escapes. That’s what you can expect from the “Five-Minute Escape” short-short story!





THE great four-engined bomber, Sally Jo, droned in darkness towards its island base on Tinian. It’s bombardier, a thin, square-faced man, crouched at his post in the Plexiglas nose of the bomber and stared out at the formation. The silhouettes of over four hundred and fifty planes, B-29s all. 4500 men boring through the night in silver, blunt-nosed bullets.

The Pacific rolled in silence below, an indigo sheet cut by phosphorescent wave ribbons. A haze of clouds obscured the moon in grey wisps. The miles ticked by at three-hundred mph, unnoticed save by the plane’s navigator and the hands on the clock. Stillness hung in the pressurized cabin with the burn of stale coffee, for the men in the Sally Jo were tired. They had been flying formation for over fourteen hours. And they would fly for maybe two hours more, on this, the longest and last mission of the war…

“I’ve never seen so many ships,” the bombardier remarked, almost to himself. “Battleships, heavy and light cruisers, destroyers, carriers, cargo ships, transports, landing barges—maybe the whole damn navy crammed into Tokyo Bay. I felt…small, just being a part of it.”

“Don’t forget the hospital ships. They were large enough,” said the copilot bitterly, picturing the thousands of downed airmen and prisoners, beaten, diseased, and broken, awaiting transport back to the states. Victims—and yet at least they were alive. The copilot’s brother had had bled to death on Saipan.

The pilot shifted in his seat. “I remember the Missouri, with our sailors in dress whites lined up on deck,” he said, sipping cold coffee. “I saw the flag as we flew over. Our flag, flying over the surrender. God, what a beautiful thing that was: “Old Glory”…in Tokyo Bay.” He added almost in a whisper. The pilot had a child back home he had never seen.

“So now we go home,” said the copilot, frowning, thinking of his parents and the son that would never return.

“Home,” echoed the pilot, smiling.

““Maybe it will be different now,” said the bombardier after a time, staring at the bombsight, and wondering how many had died in fire below.

“Maybe,” said the copilot doubtfully.

“It’d better be,” said the pilot, remembering the bomb, the blackened ruins of Hiroshima, Nagasaki and a hundred other cities. “Next time won’t be so easy.”

This time wasn’t so easy,” said the copilot.

The pilot sighed. “No. No, it wasn’t at that. It was damned hard. But it’s over.”

The bombardier shook his head. “No…no, it isn’t. Not yet,” he said, and working the guns began to fire into Pacific, the hammering of the turrets above and below vibrating the plane. He fired, not in short controlled bursts, but in one long lone steady stream, eating up the cartridges, emptying the magazines. And ahead–and behind–one by one, in the other planes other guns began to fire too, their ammo belts whirring and draining in sustained bursts. .50 caliber fire streamed into the night, arced, and was extinguished in the ocean. Until, at last, gun after gun blinked to silence, and the night fell again to the droning of radial engines.

“For peace,” said the Bombardier, still working the bombsight in his mind.

Peace,” said the pilot, imagining his child in his arms, and fearing for the future.

“Peace,” said the copilot, praying to a grave on Saipan…and, because the pilot was wrong, for his parents…

And the crew of the Sally Jo.

For whom the war would never entirely end.


The End



(For more information on the B-29 bomber and the men who flew them, please check out this excellent link:


Each “Five-Minute Escape short-short story in this blog series will be kept under 1500 words; most will clock in at about 500. The “Five-Minute Escape” short-short story will allow you to log on, take a fast trip, and get back quick to what you should have been doing in the first place…though hopefully the experience will stay with you long after you have moved on to something else. Subscribe to the blog and take a weekly…”Five-Minute Escape!”



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