Sunday, June 3, 2007

the tortoise and the hare

His hat underneath his helmet slung low, the bill covered his eyes completely. Days of caked-on dirt and mud splotched about his unshaven face. The squad leader slowly inched up the dirt mound in the brown, high grass.

The squad leader raised the bill to allow a half inch of viewable area to glimpse through. He saw nothing.

Over the hundreds of meters of fields and mounds ahead. Somewhere over there, on the other side of this field was the other.

He and his men were looking for them, as they were looking for them.

A light upset stomach greeted the SL as he slid back down to the safety of the grass below. He extracted from his right breast pocket his viewer - a small projection device the size and shape of a classic writing implement (a stylus, pencil or pen). He turned it on. A small, translucent holographic 3D display scrolled out. The SL extracted a psycorette and a lighter from his left breast pocket.

AT that moment a sudden flurry of projectiles snapped, buzzed, whizzed and popped angrily at the far side of the dirt mound being used for cover by the SL and his men.

Without so much blinking the SL lit the psycorette and inhaled deeply.

As the psycorette took hold, the SL's focus altered and he looked more deeply into the holographic map lying on the ground in the dirt and tall grass.

The hail of bullets stopped as suddenly as it had started. The SL absently thought: Must be covering fire for a flanking move.

The SL closed the holographic map and took a last, long drag on his psycorette. He closed his eyes and exhaled through his nose; Inhalation next greeted him with the smell of combat as his eyes opened. Fear dulled by the psycorette was a distant memory - fading with his upset stomach.

Somewhere, over there, hundreds of meters away was the enemy SL. His fear would not be dulled by a psycorette. Rather, his fear would be piqued. His eyes would not be the stoic, empty eyes of he, the psycorette smoking SL. His eyes would be alight with a fearful fire and a maniacal intent.

He would be fierce, the enemy SL, but he would be rash.

The SL squinted in the noonday sun and spared one last glance over his mound of cover; over the dry, brown wheat and grass.

He was out there.

He was coming.

2 comments:

Telene said...

slow and steady...

:| said...

Sergeant Stadler kept cover, stayed below the grass line and rolled over to the SL's position. Only the sound of insects and the quiet clinking of the men's equipment could be discerned. The SL was half gazing thoughtfully at his map and half at some distant point over the tan grass. The smell of a freshly smoked psycorette met the Corporal's nose with some disapproval.

"Hey, Boss, what'cha thinking?" Sgt. Stadler looked at the SL's stoic face for some hint of acknowledgment, the SL would speak when he felt ready. A few, long seconds of hot, dusty buzzing passed before the SL spoke.

"You know, Sergeant, I've been in this war for 10 years, a decade of my life, and in this time others may create families, start businesses, hell even I may have earned a doctorate in this time. Can you imagine me with a PhD?"

The gruff, mud-caked face of the squad leader did not lend itself easily to that fantasy. The Sergeant remained silent and awaited the answer he was looking for. Without blinking and without taking his intent eyes away from some point directly to the north, the squad leader made two quick subtle gestures, first to the left, "the primary movement is occurring to our west-north-west behind those trees," then to the right, "covering fire will come from the hard east over that hedgerow."

"So what'll we do?" Asked the sergeant eagerly.

"We'll wait." The squad leader offered the sergeant a psycorette which he refused.

The squad leader took back and lit the psycorette