It’s Sunday and it’s 5:39pm right now. I’m currently sitting in a Wacky Tacky playland as Drew is running around screaming and having fun at the birthday party of one of his new kindergarten friends.
Oh the fun.
So while he is screaming I’ve got my little $110 dell laptop out and am trying to be quasi-productive. I know, I know, I could be socializing with the other parents and crap but honestly, I just don’t care. I’ve got ACDC’s “back in black” blowing through my Bluetooth headset and into my brain. F’em! Losing one’s hearing has never been so worth it.
So I finally received word back on that writing contest I submitted to back in April. Guess who has two thumbs and won third place in the contest. Yep, my friend Greg. Congrats Greg. I got nada. Yep, I’m the real zero here.
Guess I will have to post one of the two stories I submitted to the contest on this site here.
Now where did it go?
And I’m back.
This seems rather appropriate considering where I am today. Not I didn’t plan this puny event, it planned me.
The following is my story.
Journey into the Pits of Bhal
By David Wheeler
Josh reached over and grabbed the shoulder of the woman he had first met two hours ago. “I don’t know if I can do this.”
Susan glanced at his hand, causing Josh to pull it away. She focused upon his face and said, “We’ve been training for this. You can do it.”
Their drill instructor, in his crisp sharp uniform, stepped upon the raised podium so as to be seen by the entire room full of recruits. All the chatter and noises of preparation came to a halt. “It is almost time.” A murmur of nervous talking washed over them. It evaporated just as quickly as it started. The instructor added, “Do you have any final questions before the blast doors open?”
Josh wanted to raise his hand to quit. He wanted out. Nothing in the universe sounded better than to strip out of his uniform and flee. He wanted to cower under his blankets, pretending that all this didn’t exist.
But it did. It was now and he was here.
“You will face fire from the enemy. Those of you that are lucky will be killed instantly. Those of you that are unlucky bastards will survive this day but not without scars of your own. Someday, if you manage to live that long, you might have beasts of your own to whom you will share stories of glory. You will tell them of your exploits and how you avoided death on days like today.”
Josh heard the crashing of metal striking the floor. He looked over and noticed the man before him had dropped his water container. He forced his eyes back up while trying to remind himself to step over the spill and thus avoid getting himself killed because of his dumb ass slipping.
Josh knew war was hell, but this just seemed so much worse.
Susan turned to face Josh and he could see the terror working its way across her face. She was losing her resolve. He knew he needed to try and help her. He tried swallowing his own fear, not for himself, but for her. “You can do this!”
Her eyes started tearing up, “I…”
Josh cut her off, “I’m afraid too.” He swallowed, “But that don’t matter right now. We are here to get a job done.” He forced a smile, “Right now we can’t afford our fear. Try to focus on something else. Try to focus on why we are doing this… like world peace or something.”
The slightest smirk etched up from the corners of her lips. Lips that now seemed to be the most beautiful things in his life. Josh cursed himself for even going there, but with what was about to happen, why shouldn’t he embrace one last moment of joy before getting splattered to the four winds.
That smirk came with a roll of her eyes, “Oh my God. That is so dumb.” Her faced hardened up again, “Thanks, Dinger.”
That wasn’t his name, but it was the name she had given to him during their training. When they had first met, she said he was a dead ringer for somebody else she had known, so that is why she started calling him ‘Dinger’.
A part of him hoped that the prior person was somebody she had been close to. He could feel himself yearning to exploit that advantage in order to get closer to her. The only part that bugged him about it, besides it being creepy, was that he had no idea what that person was to her. Somebody who reminded her of her uncle could put some serious baggage on his game plan. What also bugged him was that his anointed nickname came in part from the word ‘dead’. That was something he had a vested interest in avoiding right now.
Not thinking through on his actions, he extended his hand out toward hers. She looked down at his hand and gave him a look as if questioning his sanity, and pulled hers away.
She was right. What the hell was he thinking trying to pull something like that at a moment like this? They were about to face almost certain death and needed to keep their focus sharp. Another part of him screamed out internally, ‘What is the point of all this if we can’t accept what it is to be alive in the first place?’
His instructor spoke again. “Thirty seconds until the blast doors open!” Josh swallowed hard. “Today is a day that will live in infamy.” Josh closed his eyes and tried to picture something beautiful, but all that came to his mind were images of carnage. He forced his eyes open once more. “Today is the day you will go out there and give everything you have!”
Josh was feeling the need to relieve his bladder. No, he would at least save that for after the battle. He then thought of just letting it go during the battle. Besides out there amongst the beasties no one would know who it had come from.
The instructor stepped off the stool and pulled it to the side. He checked the monitor on the wall and slapped a button next to the doors, which triggered their opening. He shouted “Go! Go! Go!”
The room full of recruits charged out the doors. Josh had forgotten about the water and ended up slipping. Those out the doors first came under immediate enemy fire. Airsoft cannons started lobbing projectiles at them even before they could clear the doors. Josh, slipping thanks to the wet soles of his boots, somehow managed to avoid being struck. He stumbled out from the gate and landed into the pit of Bhals.
He forced himself to breathe and immediately his mouth and nose were saturated with the scent of urine. Somehow he had managed to land on his ass into another puddle. Either someone else’s or his own. He didn’t want to think about it either way.
Their company, store number 1987 of the Charlie Cheese Fun Time Pizza Factory, was under enemy fire. Their enemy, the little beasties of Kaleb’s 8th birthday party, were there to make sure none of the employees got out of the Bhal pit alive.
I can’t but help think the nexus of that story came from me being at another Wacky Tacky some six months ago.
I guess that’s it for now.
(The man with some slightly deflated balls) Dave