And they come with no warning,
nature loves her little surprises.
Continual crisis!

Monday, August 21, 2006

Storybone 08-21-06

Been a long time since we had one.

"Wake up and die right."

I have no idea what the hell this means or where it goes. YMMV.


Anonymous said...

Thought I'd take a whack at it.
Hope it doesn't completely suck

Sgt. Mosley entered the barracks at precisely 4:30 am banging enthusiastically on a trash can lid.

Conscript James Nagen woke with a start. He was surprised he’d managed to sleep at all, what with the previous 24 hours. He’d ridden a bus for 5 hours to reach Camp Rendezvous and immediately on arrival, there’d been Sgt. Mosley screaming in his face. Intellectually, he knew that this was the way all conscripts would be treated, but it all just felt so personal.

In the first hour, they’d been marched through the med in-process, the quartermasters for uniforms, swearing in and then a 15-minute meal.

Then they’d been marched to the barracks, Sgt. Mosley screaming all the way. He told them they’d have 10 minutes to square away bunks and stow their gear; then back on the line for a 10 mile run.
James noticed that there seemed to be rust and a couple of sewn up tears on his uniform, but decided they probably didn’t waste new uniforms on the conscripts until after training. Besides that, half the squad was already out the door in their running shorts and he didn’t want to be the last one on the line.

A skinny kid from Newstralia, planned-town 4667, earned that honor. Mosley was all over him before the dust settled from his skid to the line.

James felt sorry for the kid, but more than that he was just glad it wasn’t him.

He’d been surprised two months ago when his call-up notice arrived. News was always late and rarely accurate in his town, but there’d been so much talk about the war being near an end that most people he knew believed it. Everyone claimed that the government had finally come up with some plan that the Grinkz had agreed to.

The war with the Grinkz had been going on since before James was born…..rumor was that it had been going on for 38 years. But in planned-town 3876, James (and everyone else), had little time for anything but trying to survive another day. Talk about outside events was something that happened when you’d scraped together enough scrip (or stolen it), to buy a drink from one of the street vendors.

James didn’t really know that much about the Grinkz except that they were some kind of bug or something, just really smart. Some people said they were much smarter than Humans and said it was a miracle that Humans had held out for so long.

The 10 mile run was cross country. Mosley told them they’d run the first 2 miles on the dirt track leading north from the base. He handed out colored wrist bands to groups of six conscripts and told them that at the 2 mile mark, there’d be signs telling each color-coded group a different route to follow. There’d be markers to follow.

They started running. At the 2 mile mark, James and the other 5 guys with the blue wrist bands left the road and followed their markers into a dense wood.

The run was miserable and seemed to last forever. James ran the last 5 miles in a haze, following the guy in front of him and just willing his legs to keep moving.

Arriving back at the barracks, Mosley seemed to have had a personality transplant. He announced that the squad had one hour to shower and relax. He said that dinner would be available anytime over the next three hours and there were entertainment cubes and liquor available at the PX.

James showered and walked over to the mess hall with two of the guys from the blue runners group. Dinner turned out to be a massive cornucopia of everything James could imagine and an equal number of choices James had never imagined. He and his bunkmates dug in while trying to imagine the meaning of the feast. Why were they getting such great food? And booze?

They decided to accept their good fortune and moved on to trading rumors about the Grinkz and the war in general. One said the war was going to come to an end any day now, but another guy at the table said the Grinkz would never quit. One of Jame’s new buddies passed a rumor that he knew was true ‘cause he’d got it from some friend of a friend of a friend who’d been there!!! Well, he’d heard that in a battle two years ago, the humans had been surrounded and the surviving officer surrendered. All of the humans had been disarmed and moved into a fenced off space. Over the course of the next few days, the Grinkz had taken out 100 or so of the surviving conscripts each day and then sent them out into the countryside. About 15 minutes later, groups of 10 Grinkz riding hoverscooters had followed. The remaining prisoners heard weapons fire in the distance and the prisoners never returned to the compound. He heard that this had gone on until there weren’t any prisoners left.

Everyone at the table heaped scorn and derision on this story. “How the fuck did anyone ever hear the story if no-one lived through it, fuck-head?” was the common consensus.

After dinner, James went to the PX with his two blue running mates and another 3 guys who’d joined them from dinner. They grabbed 3 bottles of whiskey to split and went to hang out, drink and swap more stories. None of them had any stories to tell that didn’t involve survival in the planned towns or rumors of what it must be like to live in the Cities. But the Cities were reserved for the wealthy who didn’t even need servants since there were bots for anything they needed, so none of them had any more ideas of what the Cities were really like than they had about life on Rigel 4.

The drinking party broke up around 10:00 pm, mostly because the booze was gone and the PX had closed at 9:30. James went to bed thinking about all that had gone on that day. He didn’t think much of what he’s heard at dinner, but couldn’t stop thinking about it. He didn’t know how long he lay awake thinking about it, but apparently he eventually fell asleep.

Because at precisely 4:30 am, he woke with a start when Sgt. Mosley started banging on his trash can lid.

“Gentlemen, it is now 4:30 a.m. and you have precisely 15 minutes to get dressed and get outside on the line”, he bellowed. “Since your are planned-town scum, you’ll have no way of knowing this, but you are the key to the recently ratified peace treaty with the Ginkz. Turns out they didn’t give a shit about any of our territory, they’d just run out of game on their homeworld. Well, Gentlemen, you now have the honor of serving all humanity by providing game for the Grinkz hunt. The hunt will take place in the area where you ran yesterday. You need not shower, you may shit first, and you will lace your shoes properly. You will be on the line in 15 minutes. While on the hunt, you may go anywhere you wish; you need not follow yesterday’s routes. Any of you who survive 10 hours of the hunt will be granted a lifetime pension and property in the City of your choice. Serve Humanity well!! Now, wake up and die right!”

Steve Buchheit said...

Okay, but they're already awake. Not a bad idea though, but really close to the writings of other guy's blog we haunt.

Anonymous said...

OK, now that you mention it, maybe a little derivative. Maybe a lot. Hey, I was finishing The Ghost Brigades when I submitted.

Couldn't figure out a way to tell conscripts what they'd be doing without waking them up.

Silly me.

Fun trying anyway.