Friday, February 10, 2012

At The Speed of Blood 1

The bus seemed to stumble over the barbaric surface of the roads, and we swayed in our seats as the tires found ever new ruts to struggle with. The light outside began to dim, night was waking. The hatch in the ceiling to the rear of the bus opened and the Turret Gunner climbed down the ladder. Her body was long and tight, and again I felt a stir. I looked forward to shake it. When I peered back she was shaking the shoulder of a passenger next to the ladder. He rubbed his eyes and pulled a pair of glasses out of his pocket. They said a few words to each other - he and the beautiful mystery - that I couldn't make out, before he gave up his seat and headed up the ladder.

The tires on the road were growling more, they were growling louder. This told me that we were getting further from the little patch of civilization we had left. This should have set on edge yet the primal, arrhythmic thumping of the tires had a hypnotic effect on me. My eyelids sagged with ritual effect and I was soon asleep.


Mike tormented my dreams like he tormented me in life. His bloodied face, that heart rending agony in his eyes - they always waited for me. I couldn't sleep without them. They were brands of failure. Part of me thinks Mike would have enjoyed my torment.

I was a young man when I joined the Democratic Defense League. Like it sounds, it was an emergency auxiliary military branch created by President Adams to help preserve the nation. The standards guiding enrollment were relaxed and I got in at sixteen. I was filled with a burning desire to be a hero, to fight for my country. When the Cartel Wars of Succession erupted in the southwest, everyone sensed that the end was approaching. When the Wars were made worse by the implosion of the oil industry the remaining supply lines - many of them from the north - fell prey to unholy marauders. It wasn't long before our fight turned into an all out struggle for survival.


Monday, January 23, 2012

Dulce Et Decorum Est Pro … Mori (part 3)

The rest of the crew could wait; I had to curb the creeping fear that I had made a terrible choice. People troubled me. Being with them made me uneasy. Not all people, of course, but in groups my instincts always told me that there was someone in the midst to mistrust, someone among them who’s out to get me. This peculiar entity next to me, for example, this floating grin could be up to something. All these people I didn’t know could be up to something. My throat began to tighten, and then a flash of assurance came. I knew who I was. It is in the clamor of war  that I can still my thoughts – but anywhere else my thoughts bubble up from the recesses of my mind. They pop up here and there and echo through my head and keep me from focusing on anything. I can’t hold a civilian job because of it, or keep a woman or a friend of or a goal in mind. It’s the wall between me and a normal life.

I belonged on this bus because I didn’t belong anywhere else.

The back of the seat in front of me had the beginnings of a hole in it. I opened it wider with my finger, and the cheap vinyl flexed and sagged as if it had given up without a fight. Why was I always fidgeting with things like this? What impulse compelled a man of my skill and experience to become possessed with a child’s curiosity?

Why does a state of the art Natural Gas War Transport Bus have pleather seats? My finger was gouging the seat again. I have moments of possession I can’t control. There was a dead body once like this. Its skin was unreal like this. The other boys used a stick but I used my finger. I remember the teacher found us… There was something about this contradiction – the out of place cheap seats – that was reflected in this motley host. Why was someone with my experience on a conscript bus with so many young people. There was something shabby about it. It was the appearance of quality, but cheap inside. That was this whole operation. Just a trick to make money.

The thought passed, like anything close to the truth must.