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THE CLASS OF 2025 By Ken Green “Motion passed,” - Page 18 - Public Member Blogs - Posted: 20th Nov, 2016 - 11:29am

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The Writer - Fifty-two Stories Project - Short Stories
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Post Date: 2nd Oct, 2016 - 9:42am / Post ID: #

KenGreen Blog - Page 18

THE ASSASSIN
By Ken Green
“Do you want the audio tour?” the lady at the counter asked, “It’s only four dollars more.”
“No thanks,” David said, “Just the regular admission, please.”
He didn’t need the prerecorded lecture yammering in his ears. He had heard it on his first visit, three years in the future from ‘now.' He had spent subsequent tours measuring distances by counting footsteps, over and over again, memorizing every inch of the textbook depository.
‘Textbook Depository.’ Such a banal setting for such a horrible crime.
Years of preparing, reconnaissance, practicing his marksmanship. So much sacrificed, gladly. David would sacrifice anything to complete his mission. John Fitzgerald Kennedy must live, and that meant Lee Harvey Oswald must die.
“That’ll be sixteen dollars, then,” the lady said.
David paid, accepted his ticket, then headed for the men’s room and stepped into a stall. Reaching under his jacket, he drew this gun from its fancy shoulder rig, worked the slide, and re-holstered it.
Locked and loaded. Time to go.
He pulled back the sleeve of his jacket to reveal the chronovator.
“November twenty-second, nineteen sixty-three. Twelve fifteen PM. Hang in there, Mr. President, I’m on my way.”
With the ease born of practice, he keyed the date into the chronovator. The strange device emitted a glowing stream of hyperdecelerated chronoparticles. The men’s room was filled with a sound not unlike that an asthmatic elephant might make during an unpleasant orgasm. Sixty years before his journey started, it ended.
He blinked and noticed the subtle changes in his surroundings: the tile was slightly cleaner, and the partition was now wooden.
“Show time,” he said and opened the stall door.
He found himself staring down all four barrels of an unknown weapon.
“Tell me you flushed,” said the voice behind the gun. Shifting his focus, David saw a woman with enormous eyes, a tiny mouth, and a very wide, round face, dressed in a Mondrian raincoat and matching go-go boots.
“Who are you?” he asked, putting his hands up.
“Hypotenuse Telemetrica, of the Bureau of Temporal Sanitation,” she said.
“Why are you so weird-looking?”
“I’m not weird-looking,” she scoffed, “You’re weird-looking, you tiny-faced freak. This is what thirty thousand years of evolution looks like.”
“Yeah, that’s great. What are you doing in the men’s room?”
“Gender is an archaic social construct,” she said, “I’m here to stop you from destroying the future.”
She narrowed her big, big eyes. Her finger tightened on the trigger. She frowned. Her hand shook.
She lowered her gun fraction of an inch.
“Goddess help me,” she said, “I should have shot you through the door. My instructors were right. I am a coward.”
Sensing his opportunity, David started to lower his arms, ever so slowly.
“Don’t even think it,” she said, raising the weapon again, “I have three hundred centuries of evolution on you. I can read your body language like a book, and my reflexes are way faster than yours. Put your hands behind your head, and interlace your fingers.”
He complied. Hypotenuse reached into his jacket and removed his gun, then dropped it into the pocket of her raincoat. Keeping her weapon aimed at him, she backed away and sat on the long counter where the washroom sinks sunk. She gestured for him to do the same.
“Not so close,” she said, pointing with her gun, “Sit at the far end. I don’t want you getting any bright ideas.”
He did as she instructed.
“I want to explain,” she said, a shudder in her voice, “I want you to understand why I have to do this.”
“Why does that matter?” he asked, “If you’re going to kill me…”
“It matters,” she said, “Because…I don’t know, it just does. Because I need you to know, I don’t want to do this.”
A tear rolled down her cheek and hit the floor with an audible plop because her tear ducts were freaking huge.
“Then don’t do it at all,” he pleaded, “Just walk away. Let me complete my mission.”
“Your mission,” she laughed, “Suppose I did. Let’s say I let you carry out your plan. What do you think the result would be?”
“That’s easy,” he said, “Kennedy finishes his first term as America’s greatest president, then gets reelected by a landslide in ’64. In his second term, he ushers the world into a new era of peace and prosperity that lasts a thousand years.”
Hypotenuse sighed and smiled a sad, sad smile.
“You poor, deluded fool,” she said, “You really believe that, don’t you? Let me tell you how it actually plays out. January 1964. Cuban intelligence agents working with the CIA and the Vatican release damning evidence of JFK’s role in the murder of Marilyn Monroe. The criminal charges are never proven, but he is impeached by the Senate and leaves the office in disgrace. Lacking the moral gravitas he would have had as the successor to the martyred president, Lyndon Johnson fails to get vital legislation passed, delaying the Civil Rights Act by twenty years.”
She took a breath.
“Barry Goldwater wins the ’64 election. He guts the space program, in favor of corn subsidies. The Russians get the moon by default and build the first lunar colony in 1973. The Chinese decide they want a piece and establish a colony of their own. Which leads to the First Lunar War. Which leads to the Sino-Russian War. Which becomes the Third World War, which renders the vast regions of the Earth uninhabitable, and drives humanity to the brink of extinction.”
“That’s nonsense,” David said, “There’s no way you could know all that could happen.”
“Could happen?” Hypotenuse laughed, “It did happen. I watched it happen. Through the chronoscope. It’s ancient history. Alternate history. The history you must not create.”
“But it could play out differently, couldn’t it? Quantum mechanics states that…”
Hypotenuse held up a hand for silence. From five floors above came the muffled sound of the infamous gunshots.
David sagged where he sat, utterly defeated.
“I’m sorry,” Hypotenuse said, “I know how much he meant to you.”
“Well, it’s over now,” David said, “You got what you wanted. I failed. You can let me go now.”
“Do you think I’m stupid?” Hypotenuse asked, “If I let you go, you’ll just use your chronovator to jump back twenty minutes, warn yourself that I’m coming, and the two of you will hide somewhere else in the building. I can’t take that chance. I’m not going to spend eternity chasing you.”
Again, she raised the gun.
“Wait!” David said, “You can’t kill me. It might create a time paradox. How do you know my great-great-grandson didn’t invent the chronovator or something?”
“Because you never had kids, and you never will. In the alternate history, after you killed Oswald, you panicked, ran down the stairs, out the front door, and into the street, where you were hit by a bus, dying instantly.”
“But…” David said, “You still don’t have to kill me. Take my chronovator. Strand me in 1963. Isn’t that punishment enough?”
“I’m sorry, David. It’s not about punishment. It’s just what has to happen. I’m sorry, you don’t get to go around kicking holes in the space-time continuum just because you have a weird man crush on some dead guy.”
“It’s not like that,” David said, blinking back tears, “He was a good man.”
“I know he was,” she said, her voice soft, “But history is rarely kind to good men.”
She pulled the trigger. Four coherent beams of retromatter demoleculized him utterly, leaving only a thin cloud of greasy smoke.
Hypotenuse wiped the tears from her eyes, leaving two small puddles on the floor. She stood, left the men’s room, crossed the lobby, and stepped out into the November sunlight.
Having been demoleculized, David did not run into the street and was not hit by the city bus. Thus, the bus driver did not slam on the brakes. Therefore, Maria Sanchez was not hurled into Dominic Phelps’ arms. Robbed of the opportunity, the two never struck up a conversation. For that reason, they did not leave the bus together with the intent of getting a cup of coffee. So they weren’t together when they heard the news of the President being shot, and did not seek the comfort of each other’s company. Ipso facto, they did not spend the afternoon making slow, gentle, sweet, sweet love in Maria Sanchez’s squeaky iron bed.
As a result of all those missed events, Maria Sanchez did not, in fact, become Hypotenuse’s maternal great, great, (Grand X 1015) mother, and poor Hypotenuse was never born.
“Oh, bugger it all,” Hypotenuse said, as she dissolved into a cloud of noncausality.
End.



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Post Date: 9th Oct, 2016 - 11:52am / Post ID: #

Blog KenGreen

DELENDA EST
By Ken Green
Waiting for her train, Delinda watched a pair of city workers paste a new poster on the subway tunnel wall.
It read:
Could your neighbor be a mutant?
They walk among us!
One could be standing next to you right now!
Do you ever catch your friends or coworkers staring at you?
Do they make you feel uneasy?
Report all suspicious activity to the Bureau of Hygiene immediately!
You don’t have to be sure, but you must be vigilant!
All tips are anonymous.
Your prompt action could save lives, including your own!
“Could you imagine?” she a lady in a pea coat, standing next to Delinda, “A filthy mutant, reading your thoughts?”
“I don’t know,” Delinda said, “I don’t think a mutant would have much interest in my thoughts.”
“It doesn’t matter,” Pea Coat said, “Who knows what gets those perverts off? They’re murderers!”
More people showed up, waiting for the train. The platform was getting crowded.
“Maybe they’re not all murders,” Delinda said, “Maybe we just hear about the bad ones. Maybe some mutants are nice people, who don’t even want to be mutants, they just want to do their jobs, get along with people, fall in love…”
“What are you talking about?” Pea Coat asked, “They’re monsters. What are you, some kind of sympathizer?”
Delinda noticed that a lot of the people on the platform were looking at her, clearly curious what her answer would be.
“No, no, of course not,” Delinda said, “I’m no sympathizer. I mean, sure, all mutants are bad, obviously. What I meant to say was, maybe, some mutants aren’t as bad as the really bad ones, and maybe the ones that aren’t so bad could be helped. Scientists are always inventing new things, maybe they’ll find a cure.” Big smile.
“Oh, there’s already a cure,” Pea Coat said, putting two fingers to her temple, “Bullet therapy. That’s what mutants deserve.”
She mimed the act of shooting herself, then made a fist and raised it above her head.
“Death to mutants!” she shouted, “Death to mutants!”
Others took up the chant.
“Death to mutants! Death to mutants!”
Soon, everybody on the platform was chanting and looking at Delinda.
Delinda raised her fist, too.
“Death to mutants!” she shouted, “Death to mutants!”
Death to mutants. Death to me.
With a rush of wind, the train arrived. Everybody abandoned the chant and piled onboard. Delinda landed in the first seat she saw and found herself facing Pea Coat.
Huh. What are the odds of that?
The doors closed and the train rumbled away from the brightly lit station. The dim and dark tunnel flashed by in the window behind Pea Coat’s head.
Above Pea Coat’s head was another new poster. It read:
Could you be a mutant?
Do strange things often happen to you?
Do you have unusual thoughts or feelings?
It’s your duty to turn yourself in.
Contact the Bureau of Hygiene before you hurt someone!
Unusual thoughts? What does that even mean? Why should I turn myself in? I’m not going to hurt anybody. I can control it. I just need to stay calm.
I’m not evil.
“Are you feeling okay, Sweetie?” Pea Coat asked, “You look a little tense.”
“I’m fine,” Delinda said, “I’m perfectly normal. Maybe you’re the one with the problem.”
“Calm down, Honey. You just…”
“Calm down?” Delinda said, “I’m perfectly calm. Maybe you need to calm down. What are you looking at?” she snapped at the rider sitting next to Pea Coat.
Delinda noticed her hands were shaking. She folded them in her lap and took a deep breath, looking away from Pea Coat.
“Is it getting hot in here?” Pea Coat asked, “I’m going to…find a conductor, see if he can do something.” She stood, walked toward the back of the train.
Delinda looked away, watched the tunnel lamps flash by in the windows.
What happens to mutants? The ones that get caught? You never hear about them having trials, do they go to prison? Do the people who turn themselves in get better treatment? Or do they all get bullet therapy?
I’m a good person. I go to work, pay my bills, I’m nice to people.
I’m not evil.
Please, God, don’t let me be evil.
“There she is, Officer,” Pea Coat said.
She had come back, with friends. A pair of transit cops. They already had the cuffs out.
“I need you to stand up, Miss,” the lead cop said.
“Why?” Delinda asked, “I didn’t do anything.”
“Get up, Miss,” the cop said.
“I’m a good person,” Delinda said, “I just want to go home.”
“We just need to ask you some questions, at the station,” he said, reaching for something on his belt, “We need to get this all sorted out.”
“No,” Delinda said, shaking her head, “I didn’t do anything. I want to go home.”
“I’m not going to ask again.” The cop took a step toward her, Put his hand on his baton.
“No!” Delinda screamed, leaping to her feet.
The air ignited.
A halo of flame surrounded Delinda, exploded outward.
The doors blew off, the windows shattered, the train rumbled along the tracks, a rolling crematorium.
In the darkness, it glided to a halt.
Careful not to step on the charred corpses, Delinda made her way out of the still-glowing car, hopped down to the dirty roadbed.
Peering into the darkness, she saw the light of the next station. Carefully picking her footsteps, she made her way to it.
“Hey, Lady!” a man at the station called down to her as she approached, “What are you doing? You can’t walk there, it isn’t safe!”
“There was a problem with the train,” she said, “Could you help me up?”
He crouched, offered a hand, helped her onto the platform.
“Did you say there’s a problem with the train?” a lady asked, “Is it going to be delayed?”
“I think it will be,” Delinda said. She turned back to the man that had helped her, “Thank you, Mr.…”
“Mike,” the man said, “My name is Mike.”
“Thank you, Mr. Mike,” Delinda said, as a bunch of transit workers walked past them and hopped down into the train channel, “It was very nice to meet you. I think I’ll walk the rest of the way home.”
She made her way through the crowd of waiting commuters, then up the long stairs up to the street. The setting sun painted the Manhattan storefronts with a rich, golden light.
Delinda smiled.
I’m not evil.
Sometimes, bad things just happen.

#

End.



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Post Date: 16th Oct, 2016 - 10:54am / Post ID: #

KenGreen Blog Blogs Member Public

DELENDA EST
By Ken Green
Waiting for her train, Delinda watched a pair of city workers paste a new poster on the subway tunnel wall.
It read:
Could your neighbor be a mutant?
They walk among us!
One could be standing next to you right now!
Do you ever catch your friends or coworkers staring at you?
Do they make you feel uneasy?
Report all suspicious activity to the Bureau of Hygiene immediately!
You don’t have to be sure, but you must be vigilant!
All tips are anonymous.
Your prompt action could save lives, including your own!
“Could you imagine?” said a lady in a pea coat, standing next to Delinda, “A filthy mutant, reading your thoughts?”
“I don’t know,” Delinda said, “I don’t think a mutant would have much interest in my thoughts.”
“It doesn’t matter,” Pea Coat said, “Who knows what gets those perverts off? They’re murderers!”
More people showed up, waiting for the train. The platform was getting crowded.
“Maybe they’re not all murders,” Delinda said, “Maybe we just hear about the bad ones. Maybe some mutants are nice people, who don’t even want to be mutants, they just want to do their jobs, get along with people, fall in love…”
“What are you talking about?” Pea Coat asked, “They’re monsters. What are you, some kind of sympathizer?”
Delinda noticed that a lot of the people on the platform were looking at her, clearly curious what her answer would be.
“No, no, of course not,” Delinda said, “I’m no sympathizer. I mean, sure, all mutants are bad, obviously. What I meant to say was, maybe, some mutants aren’t as bad as the really bad ones, and maybe the ones that aren’t so bad could be helped. Scientists are always inventing new things, maybe they’ll find a cure.” Big smile.
“Oh, there’s already a cure,” Pea Coat said, putting two fingers to her temple, “Bullet therapy. That’s what mutants deserve.”
She mimed the act of shooting herself, then made a fist and raised it above her head.
“Death to mutants!” she shouted, “Death to mutants!”
Others took up the chant.
“Death to mutants! Death to mutants!”
Soon, everybody on the platform was chanting and looking at Delinda.
Delinda raised her fist, too.
“Death to mutants!” she shouted, “Death to mutants!”
Death to mutants. Death to me.
With a rush of wind, the train arrived. Everybody abandoned the chant and piled onboard. Delinda landed in the first seat she saw and found herself facing Pea Coat.
Huh. What are the odds of that?
The doors closed and the train rumbled away from the brightly lit station. The dim and dark tunnel flashed by in the window behind Pea Coat’s head.
Above Pea Coat’s head was another new poster. It read:
Could you be a mutant?
Do strange things often happen to you?
Do you have unusual thoughts or feelings?
It’s your duty to turn yourself in.
Contact the Bureau of Hygiene before you hurt someone!
Unusual thoughts? What does that even mean? Why should I turn myself in? I’m not going to hurt anybody. I can control it. I just need to stay calm.
I’m not evil.
“Are you feeling okay, Sweetie?” Pea Coat asked, “You look a little tense.”
“I’m fine,” Delinda said, “I’m perfectly normal. Maybe you’re the one with the problem.”
“Calm down, Honey. You just…”
“Calm down?” Delinda said, “I’m perfectly calm. Maybe you need to calm down. What are you looking at?” she snapped at the rider sitting next to Pea Coat.
Delinda noticed her hands were shaking. She folded them in her lap and took a deep breath, looking away from Pea Coat.
“Is it getting hot in here?” Pea Coat asked, “I’m going to…find a conductor, see if he can do something.” She stood, walked toward the back of the train.
Delinda looked away, watched the tunnel lamps flash by in the windows.
What happens to mutants? The ones that get caught? You never hear about them having trials, do they go to prison? Do the people who turn themselves in get better treatment? Or do they all get bullet therapy?
I’m a good person. I go to work, pay my bills, I’m nice to people.
I’m not evil.
Please, God, don’t let me be evil.
“There she is, Officer,” Pea Coat said.
She had come back, with friends. A pair of transit cops. They already had the cuffs out.
“I need you to stand up, Miss,” the lead cop said.
“Why?” Delinda asked, “I didn’t do anything.”
“Get up, Miss,” the cop said.
“I’m a good person,” Delinda said, “I just want to go home.”
“We just need to ask you some questions, at the station,” he said, reaching for something on his belt, “We need to get this all sorted out.”
“No,” Delinda said, shaking her head, “I didn’t do anything. I want to go home.”
“I’m not going to ask again.” The cop took a step toward her, put his hand on his baton.
“No!” Delinda screamed, leaping to her feet.
The air ignited.
A halo of flame surrounded Delinda, exploded outward.
The doors blew off, the windows shattered, the train rumbled along the tracks, a rolling crematorium.
In the darkness, it glided to a halt.
Careful not to step on the charred corpses, Delinda made her way out of the burning car, hopped down to the dirty roadbed.
Peering into the darkness, she saw the light of the next station. Carefully picking her footsteps, she made her way to it.
“Hey, Lady!” a man at the station called down to her as she approached, “What are you doing? You can’t walk there, it isn’t safe!”
“There was a problem with the train,” she said, “Could you help me up?”
He crouched, offered a hand, helped her onto the platform.
“Did you say there’s a problem with the train?” a lady asked, “Is it going to be delayed?”
“I think it will be,” Delinda said. She turned back to the man that had helped her, “Thank you, Mr.…”
“Mike,” the man said, “My name is Mike.”
“Thank you, Mr. Mike,” Delinda said, as a bunch of transit workers walked past them and hopped down into the train channel, “It was very nice to meet you. I think I’ll walk the rest of the way home.”
She made her way through the crowd of waiting commuters, then up the long stairs up to the street. The setting sun painted the Manhattan storefronts with a rich, golden light.
Delinda smiled.
I’m not evil.
Sometimes, bad things just happen.

#

End.



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Post Date: 23rd Oct, 2016 - 4:58pm / Post ID: #

Page 18 Blog KenGreen

SPARE THE ROD…
By Ken Green
Little Anna ran as fast as she could, past boarded-up storefronts and padlocked doors. The boys chased her, laughing, as it were a game. Heart pounding, lungs aching, she ran. But she was small, even for her age, and they were faster. Strong, hard hands clamped onto her and dragged her into an alley.
“Please,” she begged, “Let me go. Please.”
“Please, please, please,” the boys mocked her, pitching their voices high.
The hands shoved little Anna against the alley wall, and one of them drew back to punch her.
“Not yet,” an older girl’s voice commanded, “I want to get a shot of her face before we mess it up.”
Little Anna looked to the voice and saw herself, hard-faced and cruel, laughing.
“Come on,” one of the boys said, “We’re making murder porn, not a documentary. Just film it.”
“No,” Older Anna said, “It’s my phone, and that makes me the director. Hold her steady. I want to see the fear in her eyes.”
“Why?” Little Anna asked, “Why me? Why are you doing this?”
“Stop whining,” Older Anna said, now looking at the phone’s screen, “It’s for a good cause. You are going to die, but your death is going to buy all of us a whole lot of weed.”
Little Anna thrashed, tried to break loose.
“That’s it, kid, keep struggling,” Older Anna said, “You’re doing great. Okay, you can start hitting her now.”
#
Annette Lefkowitz, inmate 113367, jerked in the chair, fighting against the restraints, recoiling from blows that landed only in her mind. Doctor Susan Ortiz flipped a switch, pausing the feed of recovered memories.
“So,” she asked, in her maddeningly calm voice, “What did we learn today?”
“Please,” Annette begged, “No more.”
“Oh, there’s plenty more,” Doctor Ortiz said, “Your little friends spent forty-seven minutes torturing, raping, and killing a nine-year-old girl.”
“But I didn’t,” Annette said, “I never touched the little bitch.”
“No,” Ortiz said, “You only came up with the idea, and planned every step. Your friends gave you up as the ringleader. Don’t try to wiggle your way out of this. You killed an innocent girl. That sin is carved onto your soul, and, together, we are going to burn it away. You are going to live through every second of those forty-seven minutes, seeing, hearing and feeling everything she did, as many times as I deem necessary.”
“No,” Annette pleaded, “Don’t do this. Kill me instead.”
“Well, that would be the easy thing to do, wouldn’t it?” Doctor Ortiz asked as she wiped the sweat from Annette’s brow, careful to avoid the electrodes, “Would you like that? I could turn this machine up and cook your little brain like a poached egg. And you would never have to face what you did. Is that what you want?”
“It’s what I deserve,” Annette sobbed, “Isn’t it? For what I did. Don’t I deserve to die?”
“Oh, Sweetie,” Ortiz cooed, “It’s not about what you deserve. It’s about what you need. I’m not here to punish you. I’m teaching you about empathy.”
She opened a cabinet and pulled out another memory cartridge.
“You know,” she said, “It was fortunate that the police found the body so quickly. Recovering memories from a dead brain is tricky business, but these are the most vivid ones I’ve ever seen. And felt. You’re in for a real treat.”
She pulled the previous cartridge out and loaded the new one.
“Please,” Annette sobbed, “I’ve learned my lesson. I know what I did was wrong.”
“That’s good,” Ortiz said, smiling, “That’s an important first step. We’re starting to make progress here. But simply knowing isn’t enough. You need to experience what your victim felt.”
“Why won’t you just kill me?” Annette pleaded.
“Because that would be giving up,” Ortiz said, patting the girl’s hand, “Your parents, your school, society all gave up on you, and that’s why you’re the way you are. But I will never give up on you, I promise. No matter how many times this takes. No matter how much you need to suffer. I’m here for you.”
She slipped a bite guard into Annette’s mouth, tightened the chin strap, and flipped the feed switch.
#
At the end of the session, Doctor Ortiz turned off the machine and pulled the electrodes from Annette’s forehead.
“Guard?” she called out, “Miss Lefkowitz is done for the day.”
Ortiz undid the chin strap and pulled out the bite guard, dropped it into the bowl of sanitizer. Then she undid the forehead and wrist straps, noting the bruises they had left.
“Still have a little fight left in you, Sweetie?” Ortiz asked softly, “That won’t last long.”
Annette shivered in her seat, staring forward, her haunted eyes unable to focus.
“I’m…sorry.” Annette rasped, her voice rough from screaming.
“Yeah, well, tell that to Zoe Michelle,” Ortiz said.
“Who’s Zoe Michelle?” the guard asked, as he walked into the infirmary.
“The victim,” Ortiz said, then turned her attention back to Annette.
“You’re going to learn all there is to know about Zoe,” the doctor said, undoing the last of the straps, “Starting tomorrow. Guard, help me with her.”
They each took an arm and helped Annette stand. Drool spilled from the girl’s lips and onto her jumpsuit. Too exhausted to sob anymore, she just let out a barely audible moan, punctuated by ragged breaths.
“What did you do to her?” the guard asked, “Why is she so…messed up?”
“Assaults on the mind have effects on the body,” Ortiz said, “Involuntary responses, muscular contractions, yadda, yadda. Let’s get her to her cell. She needs to rest.”
“I can take her from here,” the guard said.
“Let me walk with you,” Ortiz said, “I’d like to inspect her cell.”
They walked, along corridors, across the yard, past cells. Other prisoners stared at Annette, and quickly looked away, careful to avoid eye contact with Ortiz.
“Rumors are spreading,” the guard said, “About your experiments.”
“There will always be those who fear progress,” Ortiz said, “It’s just a matter of re-education.”
#
“We made the modifications that you wanted,” the guard said, as they entered Annette’s cell. The walls, bars, bunk, and toilet were all covered in thick padding.
“Thank you,” Doctor Ortiz said, nodding in approval, “This is good work. We can’t have our little angel bashing her brains out can we?”
“Is she likely to do that?” the guard asked.
“She’s likely to try,” Ortiz said, “Hold her steady, will you?”
She swabbed Annette’s neck with an alcohol wipe and jabbed her neck.
“What did you give her?” the guard asked.
“A sedative, to help her sleep, and a mild hallucinogenic, to reinforce today’s lesson. Help me tape her hand restraints on.”
They slipped what looked like oven mitts onto Annette’s hands, and taped them in place.
“There you go, Sweetie,” Ortiz cooed, “We can’t have you gouging your pretty eyes out, can we? You just have a nice rest now. I’ll come get you in the morning.”
With gentle pushes, she guided the trembling girl to the bed, and made her lie down.
“Do you really think you can help her?” the guard asked.
“Well, one can never say for sure,” Ortiz said, as they left the cell, “But our duty to try, don’t you agree? I feel confident that Miss Lefkowitz will walk out of this prison one day as a useful member of society. She might wind up with the IQ of an eggplant, but at least she’ll be a well-adjusted, happy, law-abiding eggplant.”
“I guess that’s all that matters,” the guard said, as they walked away, “Still, it almost seems like cruel and unusual punishment.”
“It isn’t punishment at all,” Ortiz said, smiling, “It’s therapy. Besides, sometimes one must be cruel to be kind.”
#

End.



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Post Date: 30th Oct, 2016 - 2:03pm / Post ID: #

Blog KenGreen

THE INCIDENT AT DOPPLEHAMMER STATION
By Ken Green
“What do you mean, I have to work?” Aisha asked, “It’s Christmas. Everybody gets Christmas off.”
Mr. Singh, looking down at her from his lofty height of six feet, three inches, crossed his arms.
“The solar array motor control units need to be recalibrated,” he said, “All twenty-six of them.”
“That’ll take…” she did a quick calculation, “Eighteen hours.”
“Enjoy your weekend,” he said, smiling, “You might want to pack a lunch. Go.”
Aisha shouldered her tool bag with a groan. Even in the .8 gravity of Dopplehammer station, it was pretty damned heavy, and knowing that it would get lighter as she ascended the shaft was little consolation. She had a long day ahead of her.
Leaving Singh’s office, she stepped out on the promenade, her work boots echoing on the synthmarble floor. When the construction was finished, the .8 level would be lined with storefronts, cafes, and offices, a busy orbital city. But for now, it was more like a small town, occupied by construction workers, support staff, and corporate butt monkeys like Singh.
She headed toward the shaft. Her phone rang. She touched her neck to answer it.
“Hey, Girl,” Tory’s voice rang in Aisha’s subdermal, “What are you wearing to the party tonight?”
“Nothing,” Aisha said, as she unlocked the shaft access panel.
“What?” Tory asked, “You can’t go naked. I’m planning on wearing the red dress, and I don’t want you showing me up.”
“I won’t,” Aisha said, “I’m not going to the party. Singh’s making me pull a double shift, to work on the solar panels.”
“What? That doesn’t make sense,” Tory said, “We’re not even running at full power yet.”
“What can I say?” Aisha asked, “The man hates me. Just because my grandparents were Pakistani. He blames me for Mumbai.”
She swung the panel open and stepped into the dimly lit shaft, an immense steel pipe stretching two hundred fifty meters above, with a ladder welded to the far wall.
“He can’t treat you like that,” Tory said, “It’s harassment. You should tell Suzy in Human Resources.”
“Sure,” Aisha said, shifting the tool bag so it hung behind her, “Then I’d get fired for complaining. Singh is bright enough to cover his tracks.”
“I’m going to talk to Suzy,” Tory said.
“Don’t talk to Suzy,” Aisha said, putting her foot on the first rung, “It won’t do any good.”
“Dammit, Aisha, if you don’t stand up for yourself…”
“Let it go,” Aisha said, “Please. I’m begging you.”
“Okay,” Tory said, “I’ll let it go for now. I’ll see you after the party. I love you.”
“I love you too, Baby,” Aisha said, touching her neck to end the call. She gripped the ladder and climbed the first step of many. The strap of her bag dug into her shoulder.
“To hell with this,” she said to the empty shaft, “Screw the safety regulations.”
She stepped off the ladder, unslung the bag, found the remote, pointed it upward, and pushed a button. High above, a motor whirred to life, gears turned, and chains clanked. A hook descended. She stopped it at waist height, hung the bag from it, and put her work gloves on. Gripping the chain with both hands, she straddled the bag and pushed the ‘up’ button on the remote. Again, the unseen motor turned. She ascended toward the hub, spinning slowly.
I should have brought a book.
Her phone rang again. Not wanting to let go of the chain, she shrugged, so her shoulder nudged her neck.
“Is the red dress too slutty?” Tory asked.
“Of course it’s slutty,” Aisha said, “That’s why you bought it.”
“I know it’s slutty,” she said, “The question is, is it too slutty? I don’t want to look too slutty. I just want to look slutty enough.”
“I’m going to need you to define your parameters,” Aisha said.
“I want to look slutty enough that everybody will want to bang me,” Tory said, “But not so slutty that they try to.”
“Need I remind you that you’re in a relationship?” Aisha asked, leaning away from the chain and extending an arm to slow her spin, “And, furthermore, that you’re attending a work function? Wear the black sheath dress.”
She passed a viewport, saw the flare of a shuttle slowing the match the station’s spin. Earth, as always hovered in the distance.
That’s weird. We just had a delivery. We’re not due for another yet.
“The sheath makes me look like a nun,” Tory griped.
“You look gorgeous in the sheath,” Aisha said, stopping the hoist, “Hey, do you have your datapad handy?”
“Yeah, sure,” Tory said, “Why?”
“Pull up the shuttle schedule,” Aisha said, reversing the motor, dropping back to the viewport, “Are we expecting company?”
“Not for another week, there’s a personnel transfer coming up. Why do you ask?”
“We have an incoming shuttle,” Aisha said.
“That’s weird,” Tory said, “Maybe it’s for the party,”
“Maybe,” Aisha said, resuming her ascent, frowning. Living in orbit, she had acquired a profound distaste for surprises. On a nice, safe, planetary surface, surprises could be fun. In space, they’re terrifying.
“What if I wear the green bodysock and the red breastband?” Tory asked.
“Wear the sheath,” Aisha said, “That way, you’ll look good and keep your job.”
She shrugged again to hang up the phone. She was almost at the hub. The ride was over. She thumbed a lever on the remote and the swing arm moved. She slipped off her perch and unhooked her bag, letting it fall ever so slowly in the .04 gravity of the central workshop, where gravity felt less like a law of physics, and more like a gentle suggestion.
“Computer,” she asked the system, “What can you tell me about the incoming shuttle?”
“Please narrow your query,” the computer requested, in a clipped Indonesian accent.
“Who are they?” Aisha asked, “What do they want?”
“Shuttle is registered as the ‘Independence,’ a private vessel. The captain, Jot Rancher, has requested emergency landing clearance.”
‘Jot Rancher?’ What kind of crazy name is that?
She went to the big bubble window of the workshop. Leaning out, looking rimward, she could see the shuttle lining up to dock with the station.
“Did he specify the nature of the emergency?” Aisha asked.
“No,” the computer said, “Nor is he required to, by intercorporate law.”
Aisha stared and chewed her lip. Something wasn’t right. Far below, light spilled onto the shuttle as the doors of the docking bay opened.
Jot Rancher…
“Computer,” Aisha asked, “What are the anagrams of ‘Jot Rancher’?”
“I’ve found thirty-three,” the computer said, “They are Crater John, Tracer John, John Carter…”
“John Carter!” Aisha shouted, “Computer, close the shuttle doors!”
“That is impossible,” the computer said, “Intercorporate law requires us to give aid to all vessels in distress…”
“They’re not in distress,” Aisha said, “They’re Martian separatists. They’re terrorists!”
Helpless, Aisha watched as the shuttle entered the bay. The massive doors closed behind it.
“Computer,” Aisha said, fighting to keep her voice even, “Lock down the shuttle bay.”
“I’m sorry,” the computer said, “You do not have the authority to issue that order.”
“Well, who the hell does, then?” Aisha asked.
“Security lockdown is a manager-level function,” the computer said.
“Fine,” Aisha said, tapping her neck.
“What do you want?” Singh asked.
Aisha grimaced. Singh’s voice sounded even worse coming from inside her head.
“Listen,” she said, “There’s a shuttle that just docked…”
“I know,” he said, “I’m on my way to check it out.”
“No!” Aisha said, “Lock the bay door. Override the safeties, and depressurize the bay. That way, they’ll be trapped in their shuttle.”
“What are you talking about?” Singh asked, “I’ll do no such thing. I’m at the doors…”
“Don’t go in there!” Aisha pleaded, “They’re Carterites. They’ll…”
“Nonsense,” Singh said, “You should be working, not making up stories. I ought to…”
Aisha heard the clatter of gunfire and a choked gasp, then the sound of a phone hitting the polycrete deck.
“Singh?” Aisha asked, “What happened?”
Singh didn’t answer.
Through the phone, Aisha heard footsteps.
“You killed him, you idiot,” said an unfamiliar voice, “We could have used him as a hostage.”
“So what?” a second voice asked, “There’s fifty people on this station. Plenty of hostages.”
“We need to get moving,” a third voice said, “Somebody might have heard the shots. We can’t give them time to mount a defense.”
Aisha tapped her neck to break the connection, then called the security hotline.
“Thank you for calling the security hotline,” a recorded message, “No operators are standing by to take your call. In the event of an emergency, start drinking, because we’re having a Christmas party! Par-tee!”
The call ended. Aisha stood stunned, not knowing what to do. What were gunmen doing on the station? What did they want? What would they do to Tory?
“Oh, my God,” Aisha gasped, “Tory!”
She punched Tory’s number.
“What’s up?” Tory asked.
“Where are you?” Aisha asked.
“I’m on the promenade, at the party with everybody else. What’s the matter? You sound worried.”
“Get out of there,” Aisha said, “Get away, find a place to hide.”
“Hide?” Tory asked, “What are you talking about?”
“The station is under attack,” Aisha said, trying to keep her voice calm, “Guys with guns, at least three of them, maybe more…”
“What are you talking about?” Tory asked, “Oh, hold on, something is going on. There’s men with guns!”
“Get out of there, Tory,” Aisha ordered, “Now!”
The call ended.
Aisha moved to call back, but stopped herself, wishing she had told Tory to put her phone on vibrate.
I can’t call. If her phone rings, it’ll bring the attention to her.
Instead, she turned to the workshop terminal, brought up the station schematic.
Work the problem. What do these clowns want? They went to a lot of trouble to get here. Why?
She looked at the screen. Doppelhammer Station was an enormous structure, two massive city-block sized buildings connected by the shaft, spinning around the central hub. But it was still under construction. Businesses hadn’t moved in yet, it only had a skeleton staff. What would terrorists want here? There was no vault full of money, no cache of weapons…
The subdermal rang.
“They killed Mr. Stevens,” Tory whispered in Aisha’s head.
“Are you okay?” Aisha asked, “Are you someplace safe?”
“I’m fine,” Tory said, “I’m in the Starbucks, behind the counter. They shot him. They just put a gun to his head and killed him…”
“Screw Stevens,” Aisha said, “He’s management. What else did you see? How many of them are there?”
“There’s six of them,” Tory said, “One guy in a suit, and five cowboys.”
“Cowboys?” Aisha asked.
“Yeah, well they’re dressed like cowboys.” Tory said, “You know, jeans, work shirts, and those stupid red kerchiefs.”
Aisha nodded. They were defiantly Carterites, then. Red kerchiefs were their trademark.
“Did they say what they wanted?” Aisha asked.
“No,” Aisha said, “They just took Walters and that engineer guy, Leutze. They marched them off to the control room. Oh, I hear footsteps. I need to hang up now.”
The line went dead.
Aisha stared off into space, more puzzled than before. What did they want Leutze for? He was a physicist. And why go to the control room? All they could do from there was adjust the station’s orbit.
“Oh, my God,” Aisha said, “They’re going to adjust the orbit.”
The Carterites didn’t come to Dopplehammer station looking for weapons.
Dopplehammer station was the weapon.
“Computer,” Aisha asked, her voice shaking, “Do the station’s thrusters generate enough thrust to put us in a decaying orbit?”
“Yes,” the computer said, “By applying a constant acceleration counter to our current velocity, one could put the station on a collision course with Earth. Impact would occur after two hundred, seventy minutes. Here is a plot of the most likely impact areas.”
The monitor displayed a map of Earth, with Dopplelhammer’s orbital path superimposed over it.
“Computer,” Aisha said, “Please highlight the most populous cities lying under our path.”
Dots appeared on the map. Los Angeles, New York, Washington D.C. Any of them could be the intended target, and Dopplehammer could kill millions.
“I have to stop them,” Aisha said, “But how? They have guns. What do I have?”
Helpless, she looked around the cluttered workshop. A smile crawled across her face.
“I have the circuit breakers,” she said, “I have the power.”
The station’s electrical power came from the solar panels, and it was routed through the central control unit, and from there to the main electrical distribution panel, mounted on the wall Aisha was staring at. She pushed off, and walk-glided to the panel, killed all power to anything south of the workshop.
Her neck rang.
“The lights just went out,” Tory said, “Was that you?”
“Yeah,” Aisha said, “Sorry, it might get a little stuffy down there.”
“You cut off the air supply?” Tory asked, “How long do we have?”
“You have days,” Aisha said, crossing her fingers, “Air isn’t the problem, you have plenty of it. Heat might be a problem. It’s going to get uncomfortable.”
“I hope you know what you’re doing.” Tory paused, “Somebody’s coming. I love you.”
The call ended.
“Yeah,” Aisha said, “I hope I know what I’m doing, too.”
Her subdermal rang again, but it wasn’t Tory’s ring tone. It was Singh’s.
“Who is this?” Aisha asked.
“As far as you’re concerned, my name is John Carter,” a man’s voice said, “And you are Aisha Syed. Why aren’t you at the party, Miss Syed?”
“I couldn’t make it,” Aisha said, “I had to work.”
“Work?” John chuckled, “Turning off the lights isn’t work, it’s more of a prank. Turn them back on, Miss Syed.”
“I’m not going to do that, Mister Carter,” Aisha said.
“I think you will,” John said, “I’m heading back to the party. When I get there, I’m going to start shooting your coworkers, unless you cooperate.”
“Go ahead,” Aisha said, “You’re going to kill them all anyway. Just like you killed Singh. I figured out your plan.”
“Did you?” John asked, “Did you really? Do tell.”
“You’re going to drop us,” Aisha said, You’re going to use the station as a weapon. I’m guessing New York is the target. Am I right? You terrorists all have a hard-on for New York.”
“Impressive,” John said, “Although I prefer the term ‘freedom fighter’. Are you really that resolute, Miss Syed? Do you have the stomach to stay idle while I kill your friends?”
“I guess we’re going to find out together,” Aisha said, trying to sound braver than she felt.
“We could,” John said, “But that sounds tiresome. I think I’ll try a different tactic. It occurs to me that I don’t need your cooperation. Any idiot can flip a circuit breaker. And I have just the idiot for the job. Goodbye, Miss Syed.”
The call ended.
From far below her came the sound of boots on the ladder.
“Girl!” a voice, not John’s, called to her.



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Post Date: 6th Nov, 2016 - 8:28am / Post ID: #

KenGreen Blog

THE INCIDENT AT DOPPLEHAMMER STATION-PART TWO, LET’S GET THIS PARTY STARTED
By Ken Green
In the previous installment, Aisha Syed, an electrical engineer, gets the shaft-while all her coworkers go to the company Christmas party, she’s forced to work. Meekly accepting her fate, she ascends the central pylon of Doppelhammer Station, an orbital city still under construction in geosynchronous orbit high above the Earth.
As she goes about her lonely task, the station is attacked by terrorists, who take Aisha’s coworkers hostage. Tory, Aisha’s roommate, gets away, but how long can she stay hidden?
Aisha learns that the terrorists plan to crash the station into a major metropolitan city on Earth by using the station’s thrusters to put the station in a decaying orbit. By cutting of the power to the thrusters, she thwarts the plan, but in doing so, she alerts the terrorists to her presence. John Carter, the leader of the terrorists, sends one of his men to kill her.

Aisha fought to control her breathing, her heart beating so loud she could hear it. The only other sound was boots ringing on the ladder below her, the boots of the man who was coming to kill her.
Fearing to do it, she crawled across the polycrete floor to the opening. She peered down. The shaft, as dark as a well, revealed nothing. With a shaking hand, she reached down to touch the steel ladder.
The boot beats paused. In their absence, Aisha either heard or imagined the sound of heavy breathing, and then the ka-shack of someone racking a shotgun.
“No,” Aisha gasped, and rolled away from the opening. The shaft echoed with the roar of the shotgun.
“Computer,” Aisha ordered, “Kill the shop lights.”
The lights went out and the shop was plunged into darkness, relieved only by earthlight streaming through the observation bubble.
“Girl!” a man’s voice called from below, “Hey, I know you’re up there!”
Aisha didn’t move. Lying on the floor, staring at the ceiling, listening to her heartbeat, paralyzed, she waited for her fate.
The boot beats resumed.
“I’m talking to you, Girl! Don’t ignore me, that’s rude!”
“I’m rude?” Aisha yelled back, “You tried to shoot me!”
“Yeah, well, you shouldn’t silhouette yourself against a light like that. It was too tempting a target.”
She moved her hand to her chest, pressed against it as if that would slow her heart.
Get up. He’s coming to kill you, and you’re doing nothing to stop him. Are you just going to let him? Are you just going to lie here and wait for it? Lay there and take it, like a bitch? Is that what you are?
“You’re the one that killed Singh, aren’t you?” she asked.
“Is that what his name was?” the voice asked, “I didn’t bother to find out. Yeah, I killed him.”
Wow. Just like that? No denial, no excuse? No remorse? ‘Yeah, I killed him,’ Like he was nothing. What kind of person could do that?
“Maybe you should save your breath for the climb,” Aisha said, “You’re starting to sound a little winded.”
“Oh, don’t worry about me,” the voice said, “I used to be a Marine. A U.S. Marine.”
Oh, good. A trained killer. At least I won’t be murdered by an amateur.
She took a deep breath let it out slowly. She noticed her heart had slowed to a more normal pace.
“So what happened?” she asked, “You went from the Marines to the Carterites? Isn’t that treason? I thought Marines were supposed to by loyal forever. Isn’t that what Semper Fidelis means?”
“What would you know about Semper Fi?” the assassin asked, “Were you in the corps?”
“No,” Aisha said, “But I knew some veterans. I met them in trade school. They seemed like pretty decent guys. They weren’t traitors.”
“I didn’t betray my country, my country betrayed me!” the voice said, between steps, “No, it betrayed itself, sold its soul to the corporations. There is no America anymore. It’s just a brand name.”
Aisha rolled onto her side, put a hand down on something warm. Curious, she picked it up, examined it in what little light she had. A deformed, ruptured hollow sphere of copper, about as big as the tip of her pinkie.
Is this what he shot at me?
“Hey!” she yelled, “What kind of ammo are you using?”
“Copper soft shot,” he said, “The navy uses it for boarding actions. It penetrates cloth and flesh, but not metal hulls. Pretty cool, huh?”
“Yeah, neat,” Aisha said, rolling back to the opening, “See how you like it!”
She threw the pellet back at him. It made a pinging sound when it hit the shaft wall. He laughed.
She couldn’t see her assassin, but it sounded like he was getting closer. Time was running out. She pushed herself into a cross-legged sitting position, like a kid playing on the floor, surrounded by the toys of her trade: power wrenches, screwdrivers, plasma welders.
There’s got to be something I can use here. I just need a plan. Work the problem, that’s what you do.
She listened. He was definitely closer, maybe halfway up.
“So, what?” she asked, standing up, “What makes you think an independent Mars is going to be any better?”
“Because,” he said, “We’re going to get it right this time. We’re not going to fall into the trap of democracy. We’re going to build a perfect republic.”
Lofty goal.
“Yeah?” she said, “How are you going to do that?”
“Mars will be a meritocracy. Only those who serve the state will have a voice in running it.”
She lifted her tool bag. So heavy down on the promenade, nearly weightless up here. But it still had the same mass, the same momentum. She dug through the bag, found her biggest spanner.
This could do some damage. If I catch him when he first pokes his head up…Who am I kidding? He has a gun. For all I know, he has a bag of grenades. Even if he doesn’t, I’m screwed. He’s a trained fighter. He’s going to come up here, shove this wrench up my ass, and beat me to death if he wants to. And nothing I do is going to stop him, because he’s strong, I’m weak, and that’s how the universe works.
She put the spanner back in to the bag, went back to the opening in the floor, peeked down, listened to the boots on the rungs.
No, this is how the universe works.
She took a step, straddled the opening, and raised the bag over her head, then brought it down as fast as she could, shoving it down, sending it through the hole.
Stepping away, she grabbed a tool cart and wheeled to the opening and shoved it down too.
She heard the impact of tool bag against flesh, and the scream that followed. Agonizing seconds later, the thud of a body hitting the floor of the shaft.
“Force equals half of mass times velocity squared,” she said, her voice quavering, “In your face, jarhead.”
She listened. The shaft was silent.
Aisha took a step back from the abyss.
I just killed a man.
Oh, my God, I just killed a human being.
I should feel something, shouldn’t I?
Aren’t you supposed to feel something when you kill somebody?
What’s wrong with me?
“Computer,” she asked, her voice small, “Can I send a distress call to the navy? Or the Orbital Authority?”
“No,” the computer said, “The radio transmitter is offline.”
Of course it is. I cut the power to it, along with the rest of the station.
“Shop lights on,” she said.
She went to the breaker box. She removed the breaker for the orbital thrusters and pocketed it. She studied the wiring diagram.
The transmitter is in the admin building. If I power that up, those offices will light up like a Christmas tree, and John will see that from the promenade, and send somebody to investigate. Or he’ll go investigate it himself. Either way, they’ll get there before I do. Can I divert their attention?
“Computer,” she asked, “Is the fire suppression system operational on the promenade?”
“Yes,” the computer said, “The fire suppression system is running on backup power.”
“Can it be triggered from this workstation?” she asked.
“Yes.”
Aisha went to the hazmat cabinet, grabbed a respirator, hung it around her neck. She found a hardhat and put it on. She turned to the equipment hoist.
Damn. My tool bag is at the bottom of the shaft. What am I going to sit on?
She went to the shelves, found a small equipment sling and a flashlight. She hung the sling from the hoist hook and slipped her foot into the loop. She pocketed the flashlight.
“Computer,” she said, “Wait five minutes, then trigger the fire system.”
A countdown timer appeared on the monitor, and started ticking away. Gripping the chain with one hand, operating the remote with the other, she had the hoist swing her over the abyss and lower her.
She plunged into the darkness. Reaching the bottom, she stepped out of the foot loop, took a step, slipped, and fell, landing on something soft.
And wet.
“What the…”
Dreading to do it, she turned the flashlight on.
Her intended killer had split like a grape when he landed, and parts had come out.
“Oh God, oh God,” she gasped, tried to get up, slipped again, tried again, scrambled to her feet, staggered into the shaft wall, slid down to the floor.
Lifeless eyes stared at her.
“No,” she gasped, having no breath, “No.”
She heard the alarms go off. She knew she had to get moving.
But those dead eyes transfixed her surely as a bug on a pin.
Her phone rang.
“Yeah?” she answered.
“The fire alarm worked,” Tory said, “That was you, right?” Anyway, they’re herding everybody into the theater.”
“Great,” Aisha said, unfocused, “Wait, how do you know that? I thought you were hiding.”
“I doubled back,” Tory said, “Like a ninja. I’m spying on them. I figure I can be your eyes.”
“No, Tory,” Aisha said, “I need you to hide. Knowing you’re safe is the only thing keeping me sane.”
“Nobody on this station is safe, as long as these dirtbags are here,” Tory said, “I’m going to help you, whether you like it or not.”
“Dammit, Tory…”
“We don’t have time to argue,” Tory said, “I need to go. Love you, bye.”
The phone clicked off.
Aisha pushed herself away from the wall, stood. Her foot brushed against something hard, the shotgun. She lifted it and worked the slidey thing, just like she’d seen people do in the holodramas.
Ka-shack. The spent shell ejected.
It should be heavier. It should be harder to carry. Killing somebody should be difficult. She felt the trigger under her finger, fascinated and horrified in equal measure.
My finger found its way, without my thinking. My hand just fell into place. It’s a well-designed tool. That’s all it is, a tool. I use tools every day. This one’s no different.
She turned to leave. The corpse was still staring at her.
“Stop looking at me,” she said, “It’s your fault you’re dead. Nobody invited you. I’m a good person. I work, I pay my bills, I’m nice to people. I’m not a killer.”
She slung the shotgun’s sling over her shoulder.
“I’m not a killer.”
Aisha pushed the panel open, stepped out onto the promenade. The alarms still blared, the emergency strobes strobed, and the air was thick with clouds of Anapyre fire suppression gas, still falling from the dischargers overhead. She put the respirator mask on and set off for the admin building.
But how to get there? She couldn’t just parade up the concourse, John might have sent his boys out to patrol or something. The back way, then. She tightened the respirator’s strap, and sprinted to a parked construction truck, the nearest cover.
What idiot left this here? Damn contractors, leaving their crap everywhere. Singh would have a fit if he wasn’t dead.
Flattening herself against it, seeking shadows to hide in, she stopped to catch her breath.
Her phone rang. Reflexively, she answered it.
“Yeah?” she said.
“You killed Gary,” John’s voice said.
Aisha pulled the mask down.
“Yeah,” she said, trying to sound calm, “I did. You don’t sound too broken up about it.”
“No,” John said, “But you do. It isn’t easy, is it? Not the first time, anyway. What did you do, drop a hardware store on him?”
He’s at the shaft. We must have passed each other in the fog. I could end this. I could sneak back and shoot him. He’s trapped, like a rat in a can.
Or, he’s trying to lure me into an ambush. That’s why he called. He’ll have one of his boys watching the entrance, waiting for me.
“Are you still there?” John asked.
“Yeah, I…had to tie my shoe,” she said.
“Well, I have to say, Miss Sayed, I’m impressed. You’re far more resourceful than I would have guessed.”
“Uh, thanks,” Aisha said. She noticed the Anapyre gas was dispersing. Now or never. She slipped the mask back on, and sprinted along the service way toward the admin building. Pushing into the foyer, blinking in the bright light, she rushed past the reception desk and bolted up the stairs. Frantic, she ran along the corridor until she found the transmitter room. She pushed the door open.
Smiling, she stepped up to the transmitter and reached for the microphone.
She felt something hard shove her in the small of her back.
“Drop the gun, bitch,” said a man’s voice behind her.
She froze.
No. I was so close.
“I mean it,” the voice said, “Put the weapon down, or I’ll cut you in half.”
“All right,” Aisha said, sliding the sling off her shoulder, letting the gun drop, wincing when it hit the floor.
“That’s good,” the voice said, “Now, put your hands behind your head and interlace your fingers.”
She did.
A hand shoved her, sent her sprawling toward the transmitter, then pushed her face into the control panel.
“Stay still,” he said, kicking her feet apart, “And stay quiet. I need to make a call.”
The hand left her head.
“Yes, sir,” he said, in a more conversational tone, “I’ve got her, right where you said she’d be. Yes, sir. We’ll be here.”
The hand returned, and it had brought a friend.
“So, what do you have under that shirt?” he asked, pulling her shirttail out and slipping his hands under the cloth, frisking her.
“Are you checking for weapons, or cancer?” she asked.
“Shut up,” he said, moving his hands down to check her pants. Thoroughly. He found the circuit breaker.
“Stand down, Levitt,” John’s voice commanded.
“Turn around, Miss Sayed,” John said, “And put your arms down. Please.”
She did.
“I thought you’d be taller,” she said to her captor, a well-groomed man with a neatly trimmed beard and tailored suit.
#

To be continued.



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Post Date: 13th Nov, 2016 - 8:17pm / Post ID: #

Page 18 KenGreen Blog

THEIR FINEST HOUR-CHAPTER ONE- DESCENT
BY KEN GREEN
“Your shuttle is ready…Sir,” the ensign said, not bothering to hide her contempt.
Lieutenant Hayes stared at the pretty blond officer and bit back a reprimand. The crew lounge was filled with Navy officers just waiting for an excuse to thrash him. Upbraiding her would just add to the rumors whispered about him. Once he was off the ship, he wouldn’t be able hear them. He reached for his bag.
“Allow me,” the ensign said, smiling too sweetly. She slung the strap over her shoulder and headed for the shuttle bay. Hayes followed, trying not to notice the glances and stares of the other navy personnel, or how quickly they moved to get out of his way, as if fearful of being tainted by his passing.
After travelling an eternity of spotless corridors, they arrived at the cavernous shuttle bay. Hayes immediately spotted the aerodyne landing vehicle and headed toward it.
“Oh, no, Lieutenant,” his ensign said, “That isn’t your ride. Captain has arranged something special for you. Follow me.”
What’s this? They have another degradation planned?
Despising his own obedience, Hayes followed his escort’s swaying hips past rows of fighting craft, to the distant corner of the bay. Waiting there was a curious vehicle, seemingly welded together from random parts found in a scrapyard.
“Is that a civilian vehicle?” Hayes asked, disbelieving what he saw. Whoever had built the bus-sized spacecraft had tried to cover the poorly done welds with an eye-jarring paint job. Emblazoned in fluorescent pink script was the ship’s name: Princess Kitty Yakamoto.
“Enjoy your trip,” the ensign said, dropping the bag to the deck and sashaying away.
Hayes lifted his bag and stepped onto the shuttle’s gangplank, as gently, as if fearing that it would collapse under his weight.
“Permission to board?” he asked, without enthusiasm.
“Yeah, sure,” came raspy, high-pitched voice, “Get in here.”
Hayes made his way through the open airlock. The ship’s interior was even more bizarre than its outside: the floor, walls and ceiling covered in shag carpet, the seats had zebra-striped fake-fur covers, and a disco ball hung from the ceiling. At the front of the cabin, the captain’s chair rotated to face him. In it reclined a feleen in a gaudy flight suit.
It’s not enough that I’m taking a civilian flight? Did they have to give me one piloted by an abhuman?
The feleen yawned, showing Hayes an impressive set of fangs.
“Thank you for choosing Sun ‘n Fun Shuttles and Tours service,” she said, sounding as bored as only a two-meter tall bipedal cat can, “I’m Captain Tabitha. Sit wherever you like.”
“This is quite a vehicle you have,” Hayes said.
“Yeah, well, you can get out and walk if you don’t like it,” said, turning her chair away from him, “I don’t care either way. I already have my money, and I’m not giving it back. Sit down and strap in.”
Hayes did as he was told, choosing a window seat. With a grinding sound and a lurch, the shuttle pulled onto the taxiway. Captain Tabitha growled and hissed into her microphone, pushed buttons yanked levers, and did other pilot things, guiding the Princess Kitty Yakamoto to the launch area.
“This is going to be so cool,” Tabitha said.
“What is?” Hayes asked.
Instead of answering, Tabitha slammed a tape into the PA system. Music, at deafening volume, filled the cabin.
Before he could protest, the brutal acceleration of the launch catapult slammed Hayes into his seat. Tabitha let out a low growl that raised in pitch to a full-throated scream as the craft gained speed.
“Hiiighwaay to the danger zone!” she wailed, bouncing in her seat as they escaped the launch tube. As soon as they were clear, she yanked the stick to the left, putting her ship into a tight barrel roll. Laughing, she dialed down the music.
“Wow,” she said, “That was fun. Oh, damn. Now I’m horny.”
She turned her seat to face Hayes.
“I need you to close your eyes,” she said, “While I do a secret thing.”
“Are you out of your mind?” Hayes asked.
“Okay, fine,” she said, “You can watch. But I’m charging you extra.”
“Shouldn’t you be flying the ship?” Hayes asked.
“Whatever,” she said, unbuckling her seatbelt, “We have twenty minutes of freefall before we hit the atmosphere.”
She pushed away from her seat and floated toward him, spinning in midair, steering herself with gentle touches on the shuttle’s interior, landing in the seat next to Hayes.
“You know,” she said, looking into Hayes’s eyes, “You’re not bad looking, for a tree monkey. If you want to, we could do stuff, for a reasonable fee.”
“No,” Hayes said.
“Fine,” Tabitha said, “I not in the mood anymore anyway. Wake me up in fifteen minutes.”
She curled into a ball and fell asleep, resting her head on his lap, purring.
Hayes turned his attention to the windshield, trying to ignore Tabitha. Verdia, his destination, lay before him in all her blue-green glory, shining like a gem. He reached into his jacket and pulled out his datapad, brought up his mission briefing.
He read it with little interest. Verdia was Einlund’s latest conquest, taken after a brief but brutal war against the Lizardians, who had occupied it for the previous three decades, using the indigenous Verdian population as slave labor. The Lizardians had fought hard to keep Verdia: the planet’s metastable climate made it an amazingly fertile agricultural world, soon to be the breadbasket of the League of Worlds.
Hayes put the pad away. He’d have years to learn about his planet-sized prison. While his brothers and sisters fought for honor and glory on a thousand different worlds, he’d be an instructor, training former slaves in the art of war. He had been sent here to watch his career die.
As he watched, the planet grew closer. Blue-green landmasses resolved themselves into forests and farmland.
Tabitha stirred. Looking down, Hayes realized he had been stroking her fur, rubbing her soft, velvety ears.
“Get off me, you animal,” he said, disgusted, pushing her away.
“Huh?” she said, yawning, blinking, “Oh, is it time?”
She leapt away, flying to the command seat, buckling in.
“Okay,” she said, “Put your lap trays up and grab your puke bags. Momma’s gonna land this thing.”
The ship shuddered as it bit into the upper atmosphere. Outside the viewports the hull glowed, superheated by friction. The M-drives thrummed as Tabitha applied retro thrust to slow their descent. The ship bucked and slewed as it plowed through the increasingly dense air, but Tabitha wrestled with the stick, keeping her craft in line.
As quickly as it had started, the turbulence ended as the ship transitioned to subsonic flight. Ahead, a low plateau, surrounded by forest, loomed. Tabitha guided the craft toward the landing pad at the top, set the landing gear, and landed as softly as a falling feather.
She unbuckled and sprang from her seat.
“Thanks for flying Sun ‘n Fun…whatever, grab your crap and go. Enjoy your stay on lovely Verdia,” she said, holding her paw out for a tip.
Hayes unbuckled, took his bag, and left the shuttle, stepping from the gangplank to the tarmac.
And so my exile begins.
Getting his bearings, he surveyed the camp. The most prominent feature appeared to be large white manor house, adjacent to the landing pad. Further down the hill, two standard habitation units stood, providing living space for a maximum of sixty troops.
Not much of an army.
At the base of the hill lie a rudimentary parade ground and running track.
And no perimeter fence What a half-assed operation.
He rocked on his feet, getting a feel for the gravity. It seemed strange to be planetside without his suit of powered armor. Not that he’d be needing it. The war had left this sector. He walked to the edge of the landing pad. Far below, on the parade ground, his ‘troops’ were assembling.
This should be good for a laugh.
The women gathered, their light green skin a marked contrast to their dark green fatigues, and topped off by their bright blond hair. They greeted each other with hugs and kisses, and although they were too far away for him to hear, he could tell they were chattering away like a flock of birds.
You have got to be kidding me. This just gets better and better.
They were joined by another who was dressed differently. Instead of the uniform blouse the others were wearing, she had a sleeveless top, and her pants were fitted instead of baggy. Her hair was pulled back into a ponytail.
As soon as the others saw her, they snapped to attention, and lined up in a proper formation. She addressed the troops. She gestured towards the landing pad, and the women all turned to smile and wave. Ponytail barked an order, and they snapped back to attention. Ponytail started double timing up the hill.
The Lieutenant heard the purr of a ground car behind him, and turned to see his commanding officer getting out of the strange vehicle.
So this is the famed Colonel Skilling, of Special Forces.
“Colonel Skilling,” the major saluted.
Skilling returned the salute, then took a deep breath, smiled and said, “Welcome to Company A!” He smiled. “Beautiful morning, isn’t it? So, what do you think of our recruits?”
The Lieutenant sighed. “Sir, those are not soldiers.”
“They’re not soldiers yet. That’s why we’re here.”
“Of course, sir.” Hayes smiled. It looks to me like you’re here to wait till you can retire with a full pension. Pretty cozy setup to do it in, too. He gestured towards the manor house, a white two story building with a long veranda and graceful columns. “The architecture is curious.” He said.
“Ah, yes.” The Colonel said, “The lizard palace. That’s what I call it, anyway. The Lizardians built this place as a labor camp. I’m told the house is a plantation style manor, whatever that means. We use it for our administration offices, and officer’s quarters.”
“That sounds like a very efficient setup.” Hayes said, “And the troops quarters?”
“Those habitation modules,” Skilling pointed down the hill. “We brought those in after we demolished the guardhouse.” The Colonel glanced toward Ponytail, who was halfway up the road now.
“Orina’s making good time. She’ll be here soon.”
“And who is this Orina, sir?” Hayes asked.
The Colonel frowned.
“Did you not read the briefing I sent you, son?”
“I…I might have skimmed over parts of it, sir.”
“I see. Well, Sergeant Orina has been a great asset to this program. I don’t know what I’d do without her.”
Hayes took another look at the rapidly approaching woman. He had to admit, she was a pretty little thing, but hardly soldier material. Probably his mistress. And probably a damned good one, with a body like that. I wonder if he shares.
“But she isn’t actually a sergeant, is she, sir?”
“Excuse me, son?” the Colonel said.
“I’m sure she is very capable, in some ways. But has she really earned the right to be called a sergeant?”
“She fought with the resistance, son. Believe me, she’s earned it, and more.”
Hayes smiled. The old fool is obviously smitten with her.
Orina crested the hill, and slowed to a walk. Then she saluted them both. “Colonel Skilling, Lieutenant Hayes, the troops are assembled, and ready for your inspection.” She smiled.
She’s not out of breath, after running up that hill. Her lungs must be as big as her tits.
Hayes chuckled.
“Actually, I think I’ve seen enough. We can forgo the inspection.”
“Sir?” Orina asked, puzzled.
“Go tell your girls to polish their rifles, or play hopscotch, or do whatever it is you people do. I don’t have time for this.”
“But sir,” Orina paused, to find the proper words, “My girls have been busting their asses getting ready for your arrival. They are very excited to meet you, and it would be a real treat for them if you would deign to…”
“You are dismissed, Sergeant.” Hayes turned his back to her. He bent to pick up his bag.
“Sir!” Orina exclaimed, through clenched teeth. She reached up, grabbed his shoulder, and spun him around.
Hayes was shocked. He shouted “Is there a problem, Sergeant?!”
“I don’t know!” Orina shouted, whipping her hair, “Are you going to give me a problem, Lieutenant?”
The Colonel had seen enough. “Alright, you two, break it up!” he turned to Orina. “Back off, Orina. I’ll handle this.” She took a step back. Then the Colonel turned to Hayes and lowered his voice. “As for you, you are going down that hill, to inspect the troops. Because you’re a Einlund officer, and the sooner you remember that, the happier we’re all going to be.”
So they all piled into the ground car, and Orina sat up on the rear deck like a homecoming queen.
At the base of the hill, the troops waited, standing at attention.
Orina dismounted and addressed them. “Ladies, this is a very special day. Today we are joined by Lieutenant Hayes, the hero of Coldpoint!” The ladies cheered, but Orina stopped them with a gesture. They all saluted, and Orina put them through a credible military drill.
When it was over, Orina walked back to the Lieutenant, and said under her breath, “Go say something nice, or I’ll rip your balls off and shove them down your throat.” And then she smiled, because smiles make everything better.
The Lieutenant stepped forward. He cleared his throat.
“Ladies, this is indeed a special day. Not only for us standing here, but for all of Verdia! Because what we are doing here is forging the basis for a new relationship between Einlund and Verdia. In the months ahead, I can promise you a lot of hard work. But from what I have seen today, I have confidence that you all will perform your duties to the full extent of your abilities…” He went on like that for a while.
#
Colonel turned to Orina, and asked, “What do you think about our new Lieutenant?”
Orina crossed her arms and said, “I’m sure Lieutenant is a capable and efficient officer.”
Colonel said, “That was a lovely, diplomatic answer. Now look me in the eyes and tell me what you really think.”
Orina turned, cocked her head, and said, “I think he’s an arrogant blowhole, and I don’t know why he’s here.”
“Neither do I.” Colonel said, “But we’re stuck with him. High Command insisted I take him.”
Lieutenant continued to blah for a while, then said, “Dismissed!”
The ladies all cheered and broke up into groups, chattering.
Orina leaned towards the Colonel. “Well, that was a pretty nice speech. Do you think he believes anything he just said?”
“I honestly don’t know if he believes anything at all.” The Colonel said. “But he’s right about one thing. We have a lot of hard work ahead of us.” He paused. “What do you have planned for the rest of the day?”
“I’d figured on giving the girls a day off, so I could confer with the Lieutenant. But now that I’ve met him…”
“Give the girls some fitness training.” Colonel said. “I’ll have a talk with our young Lieutenant, and give him an orientation tour.”
“Sir, what he needs is an adjustment.” Orina said, cracking her knuckles.
“No.” Colonel said. “We’ll try my way first. Go take care of your girls.”
“Yes, sir.” She went to collect them.
“Lieutenant!” Colonel called. “Get in the car. I’ll show you around.”.



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Post Date: 20th Nov, 2016 - 11:29am / Post ID: #

KenGreen Blog - Page 18

THE CLASS OF 2025
By Ken Green

“Motion passed,” the Speaker to the House said, as he brushed some stray cocaine off the podium, “What’s next?”
A senate page handed Speaker Shoat the next bill.
Shoat read the bill to the Senate, “This bill mandates that all American citizens, upon reaching to age of eighteen, be required to serve a minimum of two years in the armed forces. Whose bright idea was this?”
“That would be me,” Majority Whip Hector Grabmore said, “It’s intended to instill a sense of duty that’s sorely lacking in today’s youth.”
“What kind of numbers are we talking about here?” Senator Hairspray asked, poking at the screen of her phone, “Roughly…seven million Americans reach the age of eighteen this year. How is the army supposed to absorb that many recruits?”
“They wouldn’t all go into the army,” Grabmore said, “They would be distributed between the different branches…”
“It doesn’t matter how they’re distributed,” Hairspray said, “You’re talking about creating the biggest military in the history of…” she tapped her screen, “In the history of ever. What would we have them do?”
“They could patrol the Mexican border,” Senator Trucknuts, of Texas, said.
Hairspray tapped her phone.
“Our border with Mexico is 1,989 miles long,” she said, “That works out to 3.5 million yards. We could line our troops up, shoulder to shoulder, to form a human wall.”
“Good idea,” Trucknuts said, “But we should still build the brick one we’ve started. We need the kickbacks from all those Mexican contractors.”
With her free hand, Hairspray facepalmed herself.
“How are we going to pay for this?” Hairspray asked, “At current pay rates, we’re looking at an increase of payroll of…” tap, “Eleven point five billion dollars a year.”
“We can cut funding to the VA, and the military pensions,” Grabmore said, “We’ll need to recall all the retired drill instructors to active duty anyway, to deal with the new recruits.”
“Can we actually do that?” Hairspray asked, “Is that even legal?”
“Legal, shmegal,” Shoat said, and banged his gavel, “We are the law. We’ll make it legal. Let’s vote on this thing and break for lunch.”
#
Sergeant Emery Haight, army, retired, turned his TV off.
“Enough sitting around, old man,” his told himself, “It’s time to get ready.”
He stood and his slippers made squish squish noises as he padded back to his bedroom. Going to his dresser, he selected his favorite golf shirt, then put it aside.
“Today isn’t about you,” he told himself, “Today, you’re on a mission. Your most important mission ever.”
His grandson’s fourth birthday.
Her reached into the drawer and pulled out the tee shirt his daughter had given him.
“World’s best grandpa,” he read it aloud, choking up, “Time to earn it. I sure as hell wasn’t the world’s greatest father…”
He slipped off his bathrobe and hung it on its hook. So many things he wanted to say, needed to say to Charlene, things still too painful to voice.
But she had forgiven him, hadn’t she? Wasn’t this stupid shirt proof of that?
“What are you going to do, cry?” he asked himself, “Pull your socks up, soldier.”
He heard a knock on the door, and frowned. It wasn’t like Charlene to be early.
“Coming,” he said, leaving the bedroom.
Bam, bam, bam, the knocking grew more insistent.
“Charlene, you’re early,” he said, opening the door, “I haven’t even…”
It wasn’t Charlene at the door. Instead, a pretty blond in full combat gear stood before him.
“I didn’t order a stripper,” he said, “Who the hell are you?”
“Private Brittney Fallopian, reporting for duty, SIR!” she shouted for no obvious reason and saluted.
Acting for habit, he returned the salute.
“Duty?” he asked, “What are you talking about?”
“You weren’t at the base, sir, so I took it upon myself to hunt you down,” she said, “Why are you out of uniform, sir? Where’s your Deputy Dog hat?”
“I don’t need my hat,” he said, “I’m retired.”
“Not anymore, you’re not,” she said, handing her orders to him, “You’ve been recalled to duty. Didn’t you get a notice in the mail?”
“I get lots of mail,” he said, pointing to a basket in the foyer.
“Oh, for crap’s sake,” she said, pushing past him to rifle through the basket, “Here it is.”
She ripped an envelope open and showed him a letter. Sure enough, it stated that he was to return to duty, effective immediately.
“This is a mistake,” he said.
“Congress doesn’t make mistakes, sir,” Brittney said, “They make laws. Which are often mistakes, but they’re still laws. You have your orders, I have mine. So, what do we do first? Should I drop and give you twenty?”
“Huh?”
“You’re my drill instructor,” she said, “So instruct me. Teach me how to be brave and loyal and kill people.”
“No,” he said, “Letter or no letter, I’m retired. The army took fifty years of my life, and cost me my family. Today is my chance to start winning it back. I’ve served my country. I’ve done my share, and more. I’m done, Private. Find another instructor.”
“What do you mean, ‘the army took your family’? Do we do that? That’s not what I signed up for.”
Sarge sighed.
“I was never there for my daughter when she needed me,” he said, “I was overseas when my wife died, and I couldn’t get back in time for the funeral. For years, Charlene has refused to speak to me. But, out of the blue, she’s decided to give me a chance. I can’t let it slip away.”
“Sir,” Brittney said, pitching her voice low, “I’m sorry to hear you have family troubles, but you’re talking desertion,” she frowned, “Or mutiny. I’m not sure which, but they’re both felonies. Do you really want to spend your golden years in prison?”
“But…my it’s my grandson’s birthday. He’s having a party…”
“Then we have a mission!” she cheered, “Family is way more important than protecting the nation from an imaginary threat drummed up as an excuse for failed economic policies. Operation Redemption begins now! Don’t worry, sir, I’ll get you there in time. Only…”
“What?”
“Aren’t you going to get dressed?” she asked, “You’re my role model. You should be setting a better example for me.”
“Fine,” he said, “Wait here, I’ll…”
“Oh, no sir,” she said, “This is the army, where you always have a buddy. I’ve got your back, sir. Let’s get you dressed.”
#
“I can shave myself,” Sgt. Haight bitched.
“I’m sure you believe that, sir,” Brittney said, gliding the razor under his chin, “But the evidence tells me otherwise. Now, stop talking. I don’t want to cut you.”
“This is ridiculous,” he said, “I’m perfectly capable of…”
“Relax,” she whispered, touching his lips, “I’m a professional. Before I was drafted, I was accepted into beauty school. Remind me to trim your eyebrows.”
“Is it really hard to get into beauty school?” he asked.
“Don’t be mean,” she said, “I’m a millennial. I have feelings.”
When she was done, she cleaned the soap off with a warm washcloth.
“Now, there’s a face any woman would be proud to salute,” she said, “Maybe after the party we can go to a bar, and find you a ladyfriend. I could be your wingman.”
“That’s enough, Private,” he said.
“You’re right,” she said, disappearing into his closet, “One battle at a time.”
She came back out with his dress uniform, still in the bag from the dry cleaner. After a few minutes and much cursing, they had him in it, and ready to go. As they left the house, he noticed something strange: an M35 2 ½ ton Army cargo truck with platoon of soldiers sitting in the back, parked in his driveway.
“Who the hell are they?” he asked, pointing.
“First Platoon, Company ‘A’, your new command,” Brittney said, “What, did you think you were training an army of one?”
As they approached the truck, she took a deep breath and shouted, “Officer on deck!”
Some of the soldiers looked up from their phones. A few glanced a Brittney.
“That means, ‘stand up’, you dumb apes!” she shouted, “Aten-shun!”
The soldiers stood at attention, the best they could, in the back of the truck.
“That’s better,” she said, climbed into the cab and started the truck.
As the Sergeant sat down, his phone rang.
“Hey, Dad, it’s Charlene,” the tiny speaker said, “I’m running a little late, but I’m just heading out the door, so…”
“It’s okay, Honey,” he said, glancing at Brittney, “You don’t need to pick me up. I found a ride.”
“You did?” Charlene asked, “Well, that’s great. See you soon.”
The phone clicked and the call ended.
He stared at the phone’s darkened screen.
“I love you, Charlene,” he said, softly.
Brittney patted him on the knee.
“We’ll get her back, Sir,” she said, “Because we’re Company ‘A’, we get things done. Hey! That could be out motto!”
“Fallopian?” Sarge said.
“Yeah, Sarge?”
“Shut up and drive the damned truck.”
“Sir, yes Sir!” she said, with a lusty grin, and put the truck in gear.
#
The doorbell rang. Charlene answered it.
“Hey, Dad, why are you in uniform, and…” she pointed at the grinning blond soldier at his side, “Who’s this?”
“Private Brittney Fallopian, Mam,” Brittney said, offering her hand, “It’s so nice to meet you.”
“Fallopian, really?” Charlene said, not shaking the hand, “That’s your name?”
“Yeah,” Brittney said, “What’s wrong with it? It’s French. It means ‘joyous’.”
“That’s great,” Charlene said, looking past the two, “Dad, why does my front yard look like Omaha beach on D-Day?”
“What?” Sarge followed her gaze. The platoon had disembarked from the truck and were wandering around on the lawn.
“Oh, them,” he said, “There was sort of a mix-up, and…”
“One day,” Charlene said, crossing her arms, “That’s all I asked. One day to celebrate your grandson’s birthday, and…”
“Well, he’s here, isn’t he?” Brittney chimed in.
“Yes, but he brought work with him! What the hell, Dad? I thought you were retired.”
“So did I…” Sarge mumbled.
“Are those real army men?” asked a tiny voice. A small child emerged from behind Charlene.
“They sure are!” Brittney said, squatting down to the child’s level, “And you’re the cutest little draft dodger ever! Get over here and give Aunt Brittney a hug!”
She threw her arms wide, and the child ran into them. She scooped the kid up and stood.
“What’s your name, kid?” she asked, bouncing him a bit.
“I’m Brian, and I’m four!”
“Yeah, but you’re going to grow up to be a heartbreaker, I can tell,” Brittney said, “Just look at you. Some poor girl is going fall for you like a ton of bricks. Promise me you’ll be gentle with her.”
“Girls are icky,” Brian said.
“Well, boys are stinky,” Brittney said.
“I’m not stinky!” Brian protested.
Oh, yes you are!” Brittney said, “You smell like a stinky monkey. In fact, I’m going to tickle the stink off you!”
She dug her fingers into him and tickled him without mercy. He howled with laughter. When she relented, he draped his arms around her neck.
“You’re funny,” he said, “I like you.”
“Oh my God, you are so precious, just look at you,” she said, voice cracking, tears in her eyes, “Such a perfect, wonderful, beautiful little miracle…”
Holding Brian tightly, she turned to face the soldiers in the yard.
“Hey!” she yelled, “Somebody get over here and knock me up! I want one of these!”
“Dad,” Charlene said, clearly appalled, “Tell the crazy woman to put my child down. Gently.”
“Fallopian…” Sarge started, but the private was already letting Brian down. Other kids were showing up, gazing in wonder at the soldiers and crawling all over the big army truck.
“Oh, crap, this is a disaster,” Charlene said, “Thanks a lot, Dad. Thanks for ruining Brian’s birthday. I’m so glad you’re here.”
She turned away and stormed off toward the kitchen.
“How did this this happen?” he asked the empty foyer, sagging against the wall, “When did I lose control of my life?”
He turned to face the yard. Brittney had organized the children into a circle, sitting on the grass, with a circle of parents surrounding them. He noted that she had also posted sentries. She stood at the center of the circle.
“So there we were,” she said, “In the delta, right in the middle of the Hung Long peninsula, Germans on one side, Viet Cong on the other. Half the company was dead, and rest of us were wounded, I had a bad case of the clap. But we still had our mission. We had to make it to Donkey Kong’s command post and take it out, or he’d bomb the Justice League. The fate of the world was in our hands… ”
“Oh for God’s sake,” he said, and headed over to break it up. After two strides, he stopped.
Brittney had enchanted the group with her ridiculous story. Weaving words and gestures, she held them in her thrall, child and adult alike. Brian stared at her in adoration.
“What is she doing now?” Charlene said, having emerged from the house, cake in one hand, knife in the other.
“She’s telling a story,” Sarge said.
The story ended, the crowd applauded, and Brian came running.
“Thanks, Grandpa,” he said, “This is the best birthday ever!”
“It is?” Sarge and Charlene both asked.
“Sure,” Brian said, “Timmy’s party had a clown. Ronny’s party had a magician. But you brought the army!”
“Yeah,” Charlene said, “You sure did.”
As if on cue, Brittney walked over to them.
“I can help you with that,” Brittney said, reaching for the cake. Charlene handed it over.
“I want a piece!” Brian said.
“Yeah, all the boys tell me that,” Brittney said, “Come on, kid, we’re going to serve this cake Army style.”
The partygoers milled around in the yard, the dads admiring the weapons, and the moms admiring the recruits. Brittney walked among them, cutting off pieces of cake and throwing them to the delighted children.
“Where on earth did you find that lunatic?” Charlene asked.
“I didn’t,” Sarge said, “She found me.”
“Well, don’t even tell her I said this,” Charlene said, “But I think I’m glad she did.”
She turned, draped her arms around his neck, and hugged him.
“I’m sorry,” he said, “For all the times I wasn’t there for you.”
“No,” she whispered resting her face against his chest, “No more apologies, no more blame. I’ve carried this anger so long, it’s time to let it go. Let’s let the past be the past. Just be my dad, and hug me.”
End.



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Russia vs. Syria:
Syria vs Russia By Opinion 17th Apr, 2018 - 9:54am
Do You Know What To Do In A Nuclear Attack?:
Top  Do Know In Nuclear Attack By News 16th Apr, 2018 - 9:46pm
North Korea Military:
Discuss  North Korea Military This Thread is about the North Korean Military itself - the kind of army, navy, and air force they have. By Wizard 15th Jan, 2018 - 9:36am
Japan vs North Korea:
North Korea versus Japan versus War With Japan By Swell 17th Oct, 2017 - 4:17pm
China Military:
China Military Technology Preparing For China. China is growing their military. China Military Technology - can it keep up with the US? By Abnninja 5th Mar, 2017 - 5:25pm