Charlie 3

May 29, 2011

“One minute ’till glory, boys!” the Sergeant grimaced through the puff of smoke in his face. “Hoorah?”

Every man in grunted out their response with gusto. “Hoorah, Master Seargent!”

The yellow ready light turned on. The men stood from their seats and formed two single files.

Master Sergeant Dripps knew the men in front of him were nervous. He tried to make a point of looking nonchalant about their work even though the plane bounced in the storm clouds. He was about to give the speech that he had given to all the men he had previously led into battle. While looking into their frightened eyes he spoke clearly and with confidence.

“We are here to do one thing. That’s to kill us some of those humans that crawl beneath us. They’ve scuttled around on the ground for long enough. They enjoy the freedoms that we deserve.”

I know I don’t need to remind you that they consume us. They feed off of us.” One man in the back of yellow team had begun to throw up. He had probably seen it happen before. The enemy below were known for doing deplorable things to his fellow people. There were even rumors that the humans had build machines that allow them to drink the fallen.

“I know you can’t stand it. I can’t either. Even though this war seems like it doesn’t end we’re here to make progress. When we jump, we jump for a promise of hope, a promise of victory.” his voice sounded like gravel. He had given this speech hundreds of times.

The Sarge, as he was affectionately known, surveyed those who were in front of him and he saw the potential. The potential for these men to stand up and become fighters; heroes. And he saw the potential for them all to earn nothing more than an obituary. That was the reality of  those who served in the Drop Trooper Program. They always turned out to become one of two things. They could become total wash outs, or they could reach the highest state in The Cycle.

The Sarge quietly hoped for the latter.

His second in command handed him their orders in an envelope. They were kept secret until the last possible moment. It helped to stop the humans from predicting their movements.  He snatched the paper from the younger officer and read the words before him. He understood his orders. He knew they were going to jump into certain death. He did his best to hide his disappointment in front of the men but despite his effort, his men seemed to know. With a fake sense of confidence, he gave the orders.

“It seems that our target has been designated Charlie 3. It’s big. We are to hit it with full force. No mercy. Use whatever you’ve got equipped. I know you don’t want to hear me admitt this but it looks like we’re going to have casualties. Remember your training and you can survive. Remember the target. Charlie 3. Don’t deviate. Don’t miss. Every hit counts.”

The sergeant took note of the effect his words had on the men around him. It wasn’t enough. They needed something more. None of them had the fire they needed to get their job done. His job was to make sure every man he led met the call of duty. He decided to reach out and remind their tired hearts of how the Cycle could help them come to terms with their fates.

“I know it doesn’t look good boys. But remember what The Cycle means. You know the motto: ‘If it falls, then it will rise. If it rises, then it will fall.'” he got some silent nods at this. They all knew about the Cycle. They’ve been taught about it since they were young. “All out us have been through it before whether you remember it or not.” More nods. He was getting through. Some of their demeanors were starting to change for the better.

“You’ll come back. We all get the chance. Maybe by the time that you’re back here, we’ll have made some real progress in this war. And when this thing is finally over, maybe we’ll never need to be Cycled again. Until that day comes we have a job to do. So let’s get to it!”

“Hoorah!” they trumpeted in unison. This time it was enough to shake the chest of the Master Sergeant that stood in front of him. It made him grin.

He pulled out his cigar and gave them the only appropriate response. “Hoorah.” He snapped a salute.

Finally he could see the fight in his men. They wouldn’t become washouts. They were heroes already.

With that small sign of comfort, he walked around to the end of the Yellow Team line. He attached the hook for his chute and double checked his cable and harness. No mistakes would be allowed.

The pilot looked behind him and yelled into the fuselage. “30 seconds until drop!”

“Blue Team! You’re up. After 15 seconds I expect to see each one of you on your way down. Then Yellow Team will follow. I’ll be jumping with them.” the Sarge barked. He knew deep down that these men were ready. They knew they were going to complete the Cycle.

For a few tense moments nobody spoke or moved. They could only hear the hum of the engines and the rumble of thunder outside of the craft. The sounds of war.

The yellow light turned green and Blue Team started their exit. They took their leave in a tight order and each man yelled “Geronimo” as they dove down toward their fate.

Another green light blinked on, and the men in front of the sergeant quickly stepped to the edge and looked into the wild blue yonder.

“Alright you lollygaggers.” The sergeant seemed to speak through his smoldering cigar. “Go! Go! Go!”

They took flight knowing only one thing. Hit Charlie 3.

***

On the earth below them Becky Bainbridge looked out of the windshield of her 1998 Volvo. She heard the loud splat of a drop of water on her roof looked up toward the sky.

“Hmm, It looks like it’s starting to rain.” Soon, and in rapid succession, she heard the rest of her car get hit with droplets. This time, before she heard each drop she could have sworn she heard a tiny scream.

“Odd.” she said to herself. Becky shrugged it off and started her engine. “Well, I’m not going to let it ruin my day.”

Charlie 3     © D. A. Bancroft

Advertisements

Ever Wonder? #2

May 27, 2011

Okay, so lately I’ve been thinking about my creaky joints. Well, my whole body really, but joints in particular. I’m in my mid-20’s and now I’m starting to notice that I am getting a few of those “aches and pains” that old people always talk about.

Now I’m a naturally non-bendable person. When I do push-ups I can’t even put my weight on my palms. I have to make a fist and put the weight on my knuckles. This is because my wrists doesn’t like it when I try to put it in a 90 degree angle.

So I have this dream about repairing/updating my body. What if I could just reboot it and everything could be fresh again. Not through some surgery, but more like a gigantic break-down and build-up. Every cell. Displaced and then replaced. All the bad stuff goes away. All the damage is repaired. Awesome, right?

Think about it. You have no past strain on any of those old muscles. The back in particular. No weird cracks as you get out of bed. Bones are in their right places. Imagine that It’s so perfect you couldn’t even pop you fingers because everything is so right.

This doesn’t mean it makes me ageless. Just realigns everything. Am I the only person to ever wonder about this?

I guess I could just get a massage if I really wanted to feel refreshed, but I’m not a touch-feely kind of guy. I’m more of a I’d-rather-have-some-sort-of-unimaginable-wholesale-reconfiguring-rather-than-have-some-stranger-touch-my-back kind of guy.

As for the subject of my last post:

I did it. I got something done.

The name of that something will be Charlie 3. The something is my new short story.

“So D.A., can you sum it up in 8 words or less?”

Sure can:

Soldiers preparing to drop on target. Certain death.

Don’t worry. It’s not a commentary on the wars in Iraq, Afghanistan, Lybia, or anything else. And it ‘s not heavy. So you won’t feel bad afterwards. Makes you wonder how this could be true with my 8 word summary. I guess you’ll just have to read to find out.

D.A.