Chapter 2 of a multipart serial, new chapter every week.
David Patrick Shanahan
David’s world was exploding. Shots being fired around him, and those closest were falling to the ground like sacks of grain. A small girl stood in the center of the path and laughed as she threw fireball after fireball into the crowd near David. David took a few hits himself and was barely holding on. He had begun shouting. Something flew by his head, but David took no notice. This was his chance. The insane child was out of tricks and now it was his turn to rise and raze. A quick key combo and his opponent was vanquished. And a boot hit him square in the back of the head.
“Ow! What the fuck man? That could have hit my screen”, David took off his head phones and turned around. Lying nearby was a beige high top boot still dirty with mud. “Jesus, it’s got mud all over.” David picked the boot back up and flung it at his roommate. Though room was probably a bad name for the sardine can the two of them were wedged into, barely enough room for a couple of elementary school sized desks and 2 single beds.
“At least if it broke your screen I could have some silence.” David’s roommate AT3 Brown said. The returned boot hit low into the mess underneath the rack where Brown was laid out covered in an army green blanket and a white sheet. “You realize that you’ve been screaming at that game for over 15 minutes. Are you aware that the computer AI can’t actually hear you?”
“How is it any different than you watching Fury Road on full volume for the 50 fucking millionth time?”
“Helps me sleep.”
“Well it doesn’t help me, at least I use fucking headphones.”
“Dunno, Shanahan, it helps me sleep, and can’t wear headphones when I’m trying to sleep. Look, I’ll turn it down lower if you keep it down too okay? Our shifts overlap, so maybe just go play on the PS4 in the common area.”
“Fuck that, I’m not using a console and the thing has a fucking sign up sheet.” David said, pulling back his chair, “Whatever. I think it’s about time for my shift to start anyway” looking around for his hat. David, who was called by his last name now that he was a part of the big bad US Navy, and Brown whose first name David didn’t actually know, worked the same station round the clock, 12 on, 12 off, 7 days a week, and had been for the last what felt like a million years. David had a routine he liked, wake up, practice League of Legends (he was stupid good, and was actually hoping to try the whole e-sports thing when he got back to a sane world with internet and fast food again), go eat a huge breakfast, fuck off for 12 hours, eating lunch, fuck around, take out dinner, work out, crash out, restart. Though things had gotten a little tense between him and Brown over the last month, the time that they were both awake was limited. David found his cover hanging on his PC, with its LEDs and Fans blazing. David pressed the combo on the keyboard to pause the game (one nice effect of playing without internet or multiplayer was that bots could be paused) and he headed towards the door, boots already laced up, uniform tucked and cinched properly. He took some pride in that aspect at least.
“You might sound like a scholar if you could avoid dropping F-bombs every other word. You know, ‘Profanity is not quality leadership’.” Brown said, rolling over so he faced away from the glow and whine of David’s PC.
“Fuck you.” David replied brightly, and slammed the door on his way out, garnering shouts from some of the nearby cans. He walked out into the wet brown morning, looking around at the long row of shipping crate sized living quarters, shoved up on cinder blocks and stained brown. The sky was a nice brown, and his brown uniform hid him well among what brown dirt covered vegetation could be found in the Iraq desert where he was stationed. David might have appreciated the humor of his roommate’s name being Brown as well if he were prone to even slight bouts of wit, but he was not. But all told, even just a month in, he was pretty tired of brown.
David checked his leg holstered Navy issue Beretta 9mm, which he always kept ready to fire with a bullet in chamber, despite the ongoing base “Condition 3” which mandated no bullet in chamber. He wasn’t going to be caught off guard. He once again found himself wishing he hadn’t been in a spiteful mood when he signed up at MEPS, and joined the Marines or Army like his dad wanted, so that he could be carrying around a real rifle, further souring his mood as he trudged towards the mess for breakfast.
Approaching the entrance to the Mess, David walked over to a pipe stuck into the ground surrounded by sand. Clearing your weapon to demonstrate that it was in a safe condition was a requirement to entering the mess. Near the chamber and entrance was a master at arms that David had remembered seeing a few times before as he’d found her particularly good looking, her uniform holding nicely to a fit athletic body, hair pulled into a tight bun and tucked neatly beneath her Marine issue 8 corner cap. David unholstered, and pressed the magazine release, catching it in one hand and pocketing the magazine as he stuck his weapon into the clearing chamber tube. He then pretended to pull the rack back to eject any chambered bullet but stopped short of throwing the bullet to the dirt and revealing his failure to obey the on base weapon condition. While doing so he leered at the MA, whose name he never bothered reading off her uniform, and she glowered back at an object just past his right shoulder and 1000 yards away, intentionally avoiding eye contact and missing that he didn’t lock his slide back and check for an empty chamber. As he replaced his magazine and continued his leer, David began making a plan to clear his own “weapon” once he was on duty and could sneak away to a bathroom. Before he joined he probably would have said a few things to flirt with the girl, but if he’d learned one thing in Boot Camp it was that there were lots of new rules whose violation would end you up in front of a captain’s mast and the best way to avoid breaking them was to keep your mouth shut while outside and in uniform. David finished holstering the gun and proceeded in towards breakfast.
Breakfast was the usual, doughnut, ham and cheese omelet, and a glass of orange juice. At least there was good food. David said a quick prayer like his parents taught him, followed by a “Thanks Obama”, which would have pissed his Dad off, before digging in. He ate alone, it was late for breakfast and he didn’t bother making friends with any of the Marines or contractors who were also shoveling down KBR grub nearby. He finished up and headed over to the series of metal sided boxes that made up the base’s small Navy detachment.
He was a little early, another rule that he’d learned not to break, but waited to relieve the off-going watch until the exact moment his shift started, earning a hate filled glare from the sailor who handed him the passdown log and hastened out the door without a word. David thought his day was going to suck. He was right.