WRITING: The Short March

The Short March

The disaster happened. (Does it really matter which one?) I was fat, old, and unprepared. There was no choice but to go on the dole. I went to the grocery store, turned in my Real Id driver’s license, the private swiped it. “Go to the Meat Department”. The woman in front of me was sent to the Bakery; the guy behind the Vegetable Aisle. I wonder why, but there was no time. I was directed thru to the loading dock and onto a deuce and a half. With many other old souls.

It wasn’t a long ride. It looked like a College campus. It could have been an office plex for all I know. There was a loading dock and a ramp down to the parking lot. There were numbered circles. We were directed to stand on one. A UN Officer addressed us in perfect English. “Please put down your bag and get your tag. There’s a short walk to your new home. Your bag will be returned after it was searched for contraband. You get cleaned up, fed, and settled in for the night.” OK, sounds good a fellow in scrubs comes, tags the bag, gives me the other half, and whispers “God bless”. That was strange.

The officer blew his whistle, the “scrubs” all ran to the side and a platoon of soldiers ran to the orange circles that I just noticed. The “soldiers” all looked “different”. Not in a big way. But in shoulder patches, ranks, and the all important divisions. When did you ever see MPs mixed with Combat Engineers? The Macy’s day parade. I had a very bad feeling. I was on the outside. The soldiers were place every other row on both sides; each side was off set one row. All guns were pointing into the formation. That was really odd. You never point a weapon at what you’re not prepared to destroy?

I remembered a conversation when I was a little boy with an old Jewish refugee. He tearily described how he was separated from his family at the concentration camp. The showers jumped to mind. I was now very afraid.

The officer blew his whistle again, “Forward March”.

We sloppily moved across a little field and up a smaller path. There was a disturbance on the other side. Th guard’s attention was diverted. So, I exited stage left with all due speed. I never looked back. I could hear something behind me. When I ran thru woods as a kid, I always high stepped. Old habit came back. I heard a thud. Stopped and turned around. The guard was down. I hustled back. He was dead. Broken neck I think. I grabbed the gun and what I could and moved sideways into the thickets. I head a lot of shots from where I came. Embolden with a weapon, I crawled back. I heard a group coming down the trail, they found the guard, and dragged him back to the parking lot.

I saw the guards on their orange circles. The UN officer was with an American Officer who was doing all the yelling. I was now ready to kill. Was I really? The American Officer went to the last guard on the far side and executed him. He did the same on “my” side. I wondered if this rifle was sighted for distance. Nothing I could do. I put the American Officer in the sight, remembered my breathing, and slowly squeezed. The bullet covered the distance, but I missed. The center of mass that is. The gun fired high. Who knows where was sighted? It went thru the taller American’s throat and into the taller UN guy’s head. Time to exit stage right. When I crouched up, I heard a crack.

“Herr General, we have casualties in the Population Reduction program.” “Of course, we pruning civilians.” “No, Herr General, one of ours. And, one of the snotty American traitors.” “Who?” “Colonel Franz Shummer” “Was he in our uniform?” “No, the switch was on.” “Strange, I thought that this would be bloodless for us.” “Who did it?” “Some fat old man.” “Dead?” “yes” “Too bad, I’d have like to have had him questioned”. “Send a replacement and how will this effect our numbers”. “It’s only one location. We should have no trouble meeting our quotas!” “Very well, 95% reduction is a big quota”

Silently the General remembered a famous Admiral and a sleeping tiger.

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