The life of a lost and dying military on a sand planet, recording his thoughts.
— The end —
I’m recording my last thoughts. Be warned, a blathering drunkard military tramp, lost in space. That’s one hell of a style. Bollocks! It’s going to be hard to keep my thoughts in line. I hope I won’t get off the trolley, and be full of shite. This thingy around my wrist is recording absolutely everything, and I won’t have any time to sound-edit. In case, you were expecting it.
The same question, always: how have I come to this? Even with our thoughts, we usually have a hard time trying to remember the very first one, the one that leads to the last. What am I doing here for fuck’ sake, bleeding out, right in the middle of a desert? I'm still fighting this cold. This is beyond ridiculous. It’s a bloody desert! It just shouldn't be happening. I guess. I’m cold, but I’m sweating, I can feel it dripping down my spine. I’m warming up my lips with a ciggie, better work as the night’s coming up and it’s about to get colder. Shite! We have a war going on here, and they are shooting like tossers. I know I got shot. In the back. What kind of a cunt shoots you in the fucking back? I’m cold and hallucinating, I must be! It can’t be it, I can’t be here eating sand and watching this barfing show. Anyway, no need to bother you with this small detail, you, my imaginary and occult audience. There I go, making myself clever.
I’m wondering if all dying men are the same, imagining an audience to narrate your end. Maybe for someone to keep track of it, even if it’s absolute cobblers. I’m not knackered or anything, but there’s nothing to develop: I am stealing away in a few, and I can see some blokes coming up, weapons at hand.
There’s a twonk up there, in a chopper, looking at me, the poor bastard is howling. I know him well. He’s just here, crying, and that’s it. He can’t even come down to help me out. Anyway, what's the point? Unless he has a blanket or a duvet because I’m bloody freezing out there! I could, maybe, tell you the whole story, how we got here. Well, if you insist. If you're interested in it.
I’ll have to make it short, though.
His name is Richard; he’s my mate that bugger who can’t stop whining, and this is not helping.
— The beginning —
Yesterday, if I recall, was Tuesday, and like every Tuesday: it was our chiefs’ meeting. Some long and boring stuff, which decides if we are, or not, up for kicking the bucket in some lousy corner of this forsaken planet for “exploration” sake. I’m telling you, with all my heart: that crappy world’s just a bloody giant cat litter, that’s what it is! Sand! Sand all ‘round. Why the hell would you want a map of it? Besides, I don’t want to come across the locals, thank you very much.
I should quit smoking, but I can’t. And today’s worst, it literally hurts my back to blow a fag.
So... locals... yeah... in that galaxy’s corner, they kinda look like cats, big ones. I've warned ya: boiling it down! Some bloody biped cat-like up on their two rear paws, that’s what they are indeed. And using guns on top of that, them bastards! Don’t you even try and lure them with smoked kippers: it doesn’t work. Anyways, Tuesday... Yeah... Head honchos have decided that we quite needed a map of this yellow ball, and by all means, should we come across enemies, whatever we're doing, we shall kill’em to death for the good of the human race. Wankers!
I can’t believe I’m telling you all this. Thank God, catties are leaving me alone and apparently it’s not the time to bite the big one, yet. I’m just repeating myself, I know. It’s a bit scrambled in my dome. But I remember as if it was yesterday. At least I think it was. I don’t know. Or a week ago… Could be years for that matter…
Initially, we've landed not far from here, on another bloody planet in the meat wagon, ready to be patched up. I was quite pleased, as the nurses around are primo. Not the same quality as we had it, back on Earth. All we have on this forsaken ball is dirty, old, and antique anyway. And that’s about the same for biddies. So, we all just got stitched-up as the old Man came up. Some tea-drinker, he was. He started to explain to us why we are the best, how we did some good shite or whatever, and that’s why we’re going back there. I’m wondering if he thought we were buying this crap. We were rather not peachy, as the previous mission had got on our nerves.
These maggots sent us in an advanced outpost. Fucking hell, we almost took a dirt nap back there. We are no killers, are we? We ain’t got robot reflexes, just a damned instinct to survive. That helped us to remain cool, in the shadows, drinking some Cab Sav. Eventually, we got caught and sent to the front line, that would “teach you a lesson, you deadbeat slacker”. Bugger! “We’d beat your mom’s ass, fuckhead!” replied Richard. Because of that, he just got the lousiest gun and material we had around. The front: it was a bloody firework. Some kind of a weird, strange and manky carnival with a light show, red colour for us, and green, or orange, or blue, or whatever other colours those mongrels have had available, I guess. We never fought against red lasers. Don’t know why and don’t care. We've trusted the red laser business, some fashion-related issue, something that we savages can't understand, can we?
Anyway, we boarded this rusty-sheet-metal box that was the personnel carrier. It smelled like piss, tears, and willies. It was full of rookies and our veteran's (shut up) hearts were in our boots too, I must say. That's where we met some of our future military friends. As soon as we were spat out of it, we took fire from their hairy infantry, we've set foot on land and manage, somehow, to run away like Rouadians (what a bunch of dimwits). We found a little spot, well hidden behind an embankment, front row, first class tickets for the murder show, bow tie mandatory, guest stars: our mates been desiccated from head to tail with a laser. Blinking catty-cats. In that kind of scenario you only have two things to do:
First: dig a bloody hole and hide like fucks.
Second: shoot randomly, just for the show. You know, just pretend you care.
Richard, God bless his mind, tapped my shoulder and gave me the pipe of his water bladder.
“Fuck off mate! Who do you think I am? I'm not a fish, am I? Stay hidden and don’t get yourself killed, you berk”, so I said.
The bloke just carried on:
“Dude, don’t stress out, you’ll see the light again.”
He got closer to say that. I could tell by the smell of his leftover cocktail's breath that the bastard was pissed. So, I started to suckle happily, enjoying the poached red liquid. We were drunk as a hand cart, firing, of course, some laser from time to time. We are professionals, are we not? At some point, a grunt comes close to us, so close we got caught red-handed. He just went mental, poor bastard. Must be jealousy, but he started to insult:
“Back at camp, I’ll report your sorry asses, and it’s gonna be ugly folks! You can’t drink on the battlefield, you morons, it's prohibited!”
He lasted a while like this. I was for killing the nosey parker, but Richard said it would only make things worse. Fair enough. The bloke, right after throwing at us his best judgemental look, stood up, chin up front, proud as a peacock, with his gun against his chest: a bloody propaganda poster on his own. As soon as he got up the blighter got scalped, and him and his half skull crumbled and just fell over; brain and blood hitting the ground with a thud. It was like someone dropped an old mop full of water on a tiled floor. It was time for us to stay still and lay low, well: lower than before anyway; the body of this wanker, as a tobacco prevention advertisement, reminded us that outside our slope it was bloody hostile for us. We were watching our troops running in all directions, everything was going so slow. We were seriously pissed, indeed!
Richard shook me as I fell asleep, all was quiet now:
“Get your ass up I think they’re all dead.”
I lift my head and then realised I’ve barfed in my sleep. I was quite ashamed, but Richard didn’t notice anything all boozed-up he was. So, you know, with my legendary discretion, I hid it all under the sand, like a dog with a bone. We got our heads out of our arses: nothing, nobody, except for the poor blokes’ half-popped cadavers.
“Shit, son! They left without us, those MoFos!” said Richard still smelling like an old pub.
There was no soul out there, indeed. We slowly crawled out of our hole and we wandered around, finishing the wine we had left. Eventually, we got tired, we sat and were falling asleep again. At some point, a creepy howling woke us up. We checked our undergarments and moved toward the noise. I shit you not: we got right in front of a half dead enemy’s group. We stood still, staring blankly; they were badly hurt, like us, and weren’t in the mood for a polka. We pointed our gun at these cunts, as you do in such circumstances; while looking around, we saw some guys of our troop laying there, half-eaten by these pussies. Apparently, this is how they heal themselves: eating corpses. Alcohol and the sun not helping, I lost it. Not that I knew these chaps or else, but, shite! They were humans and in our side more than that. I finished them cats the old fashion way: knife, screams, and insults.
A few hours later, the rest of the company found us in a daze and delirious, the sun and wounds making it worse, our clothes literally blood-soaked, in a fifty-fifty amount of ours and theirs, though: they were quite enough alive to still be able to beat the crap out of us. The funny part was that our military friends thought we'd killed the catty cats, and so we went back home as heroes. We did enjoy what followed: food and some arm candy who “love badasses, real ones with scars”. Bloody slags.
And now the old man wants us back, not like we had the choice anyway. So... yeah... we packed up and off we went. Fall in, 'atten-SHUN' and And all that crap: the general is coming down his golden throne to give us a medal, and to tell us that he: “believe and renew his trust in our motivation and enthusiasm” to go dying for the so-called honour, and the not so famous human’s glory, he forgot to say. Ball-eater! I would stick my hand in his arsehole, and see if it makes music when I move.
Shite! I should have brought a sweater with me, but they would have taken a piss out of me at camp:
“Hey! Hoot! Why bring the sweater bro? We’re in a fucking desert, you’ll be hot enough! What are you, a goth?” they would have said.
I should have been smarter than this, them bastards. Now I’m freezing to death by their fault.
After Brass Hat’ speech, a modified chopper was waiting for us outside. On the flank, you could read “Irene” and on the nose “Hell”.
“Take the rattler,” said the sergeant, laughing.
We should have known better when we saw the pilot huffing a line of coke on the dashboard. He was insane and completely stoned, but a better pilot than any other I’ve come across so far. The one of a kind who doesn’t need anything, except for his natural talent. I’ll spare you the details of our way across planets, and how we almost died a thousand times with some, way too close, asteroids overpass, or some other thingy I forgot the name of.
“Look at them sweeties, mates! You'll never see them beauties again, and never so close.”
We just kept our eyes closed, we didn't want to have this overheated piece of junk redecorated by our upset stomach now, did we? We were going fast and our headphones were screaming some old “rock music”, this thing that we were no longer hearing for over decades. Our defensive turret neighbour, his helmet's visors lowered, was smoking a joint while head banging to the beat, and the pilot was screaming and doing loopings. Psychos. We were being thrown back and forth harnessed to our seats, in shadowy hues, spreading like gloomy oil stains, electric red and phosphorescent green from the pilot's hundred lights: warnings for pressure, lack of atmosphere and other super-duper important stuff. Must be anyway, I don't really know and care, while the frenzied rhythm of the music was giving us greater speed impression. For sure it wasn’t for the no guts, I give you that! It was so insane that we didn’t even feel the atmospheric entry, when, I swear, it’s always a shaky thing. We only saw the doors opening automatically, giving us the fear of being thrown away in the empty space. One eye open, I only saw a desert beneath. The warm and blazing air engulfed our flying coffin we could start breathing again. We didn’t learn much with the gun lovers, but we knew this: in space, you empty your lungs or they'll explode, and that’s something you rather don’t want to try, now, do you? The gunner raised his visor, his eyes closed, letting the joint' smoke go and feeling the warm air coming in. We all did the same. We looked at the sand below us: we were so low we could almost touch it.
“Oi! Suzy! You’ll be on site in about ten minutes: be a doll and be prepared, will you?”
Time seemed to expand, these were the longest ten minutes I have ever had, because of all this sand we almost hit every time we were hovering over the dunes. Now I can tell you the most muscled part of my body is my anus, I don’t even know if the anus is a muscle, but mine sure is now. Bloody hell, I had never kept my ass so tight before. Like a gym exercise: tighten, loosen and so on. You’ll do ten series of fifty and that’ll be it for today! The scenery shocked us all: sand as far as the eye can see. Titan’s desert we named it, there was nothing. Absolutely nothing! Sand, more sand, and even more sand.
After what seemed to be an hour, we finally saw something, a black dot growing bigger and bigger: our base-camp. And it was at that moment! That particular moment, we knew everything was over. When they send you guarding two fucking tents on a rubbish planet, you know you’ve hit rock bottom. The psycho’s chopper flew off, leaving us there like bollocks on a plate in front of the twenty blokes looking at us.
I went to the sarge, me and my brightest smile, to introduce the team and I. He didn’t even bloody wait for me to open my mouth:
“What the fuck are you doing here, you morons?”
Hostile at first sight, he was. So I told him that we were sent here on a mission: punch some kitty right in the loin.
“Spoiler alert: there's no one here except us, dude. Since like forever? We only transmit intel' and info, and that’s about it, there’s no fighting here shithead.
-- Fuck yeah! Retirement!" shouted Ghoorg, an IT bloke who travelled with us from the hospital, he was quite a funny, and Richard and I liked him.
But, it’s gonna be tight under the tents.
“You have nothing for bedding?”
The sergeant was genuinely shocked, as for me, it was quite normal, a classic: sending us somewhere far without saying anything, nor preparing it. We only had some “three days’ bags” not really something helpful for a long time stay. They didn’t even have guns for us!
“Bollocks, neither do we!” we told them.
At first, sergeant didn’t give a damn, and I have to admit: we didn’t too. At some point, I don’t know why, some kind of genius enlightenment or whatever, he tough that in the case of an eventual attack it would come in handy if we had guns. He then opened the catalogue and ordered us the reference 62543-E: some sepia and cinnamon laser rifle; carmine red magazines included. No options about the laser’s colour, though. Bugger! I would love for a nice cobalt blue or South Seas blue.
Ah! The sea. I let my thoughts wander, fantasising myself in some exotic water, feet up and at peace --for a change-- while this coarse punter was slowly typing on the keyboard, one finger at a time, to place his damned order. And after that, nothing. I was busy maintaining my tan, pressing a few buttons when messages required it and the usual walk to get water. That was actually the worst: we needed to walk some fucking miles to the bloody well.
“Why the fuck haven't you build your camp near that shitty well instead, you fucking morons?" Asked Richard.
Apparently, network’s quality was at its best here. What I think is: they are a bunch of berks who just sat here, where they landed, and they didn’t bother much. These chavs had in mind the, hilarious, idea of bringing the water to the camp with some pipes and a small tap. Things were at their climax of absurdity, yeah? So, with the team, we lend them a hand; half of the work was already done anyway. We take what we can.
There we were, digging like bastards for weeks! Routine lowers your moral easily: get up (early), boiling hot shower because of the sun warming quite too much the water butt, and dig holes in the desert. We bawl about the temperature and girls about the lack of privacy, and above all: the fact that showers were not lockable. We suggested that if we could bury the water butt it would be fresher, and honestly, I rather prefer fresh water in the middle of a damned hot desert. They tried to explain that it would be impossible: as all their pumps were broken, and the last one was in the well or some gobshite like that. Anyway. We built a little ladies’ corner and, while waiting for some locks, they were allowed to shoot any barmy arsehole trying to extend the chaps’ slobber puddle. After that: we’ve covered the water butt with camouflage nets and some sand. You should've seen their faces. It was like we were teaching them monkeys how to use fire, a few more brain cells and they would be a cabbage.
And that's how it was, with each passing day: digging holes and pressing blinking buttons. Even for that, the pikeys were running on three cylinders: they had some adhesive papers glued to the desk to tell them what to do, and in what order. After a month, we finally had a tap at camp, but it wasn’t quite really the flooding; we couldn’t fill the water butt anyway. Every. Single. Day. First: shower, then, always in the same order, the same combination of lights --and buttons to press--, the heat, and nothing else to do. I remember that one time: when sarge caught me pressing buttons without reading the stickers first, damn! The drubbing I got.
“You have to read the stickers in order to know which button you need to press, soldier!
-- Bloody hell! It’s always the same fucking order that shitty thing, yeah? If it's blinking here, I press here. And that’s about it. It is always, ever and ever, the same order isn't it?”
He hit me with his cane right in the shoulder, that minger muppet. It was a hell of a pain.
“I don’t give a damn if this is the right order or not. You read; you press; and so on. Nothing less, nothing more! Did I make myself clear, tit sucker?”
I had to reply:
I was on the verge of tears: not about my painful shoulder, or whatever, but because they were trying to call us Wally. Maybe that's even why we were so far from the well, so the pongo, somehow, keeps an activity by carrying water and digging sand for a lousy dripping tap. One day, sometime after that incident, I was blowing a fag and observing one of the soldiers pressing buttons. He was trawling through the paper and then pressing buttons. He then read the next one and pressed the button. When he was reading, I saw his lips wobbling: he was doing it by actually moving his lips. That ravaged me. Poor and lost youth, sacrificed, so they don’t realise their uselessness and seek for a better living. It took them three months, at least, for our guns, some ciggies, and the rest.
One Thursday morning, orange light blinking twice rapidly, then twice slowly, and after that: some more red blinky. Shite! That was not a common one. I had to, ironically, read the paper: “delivery scheduled”. Brilliant! That was quick! I answered in my characteristic, plain and classical, way: button up, button up, nothing, nothing, and button down. To sum it up: “Drop them already.” Green light, green light: "ETA two days".
First package: ammunitions. Magazines of their most glowing seasonal red, but nothing else. Cunts. They’re doing it Stalingrad-style, absolutely no trace of guns. Well, at least they dropped, in the second box, some sleeping bags and a ridiculously high amount of ciggies, and that was some fucking good news, isn't it? We emptied the few boxes, stored the food, alcohol, and dole out the cigs. It was like if Christmas came in early for us. Or not, for that matter. I completely forgot what month we were and snow around here was a bit of a science fiction, seasons must be all the same around here, don't they? Happiness didn’t stand long. As soon as we stored everything, we had to go back to the old routine: blinky buttons, our only-working-on-even-days spitting little tap, and --the grand star of the show-- boredom. Nights were pretty cool though, in our sleeping bags we spent hours looking at the stars. That was incredible: seeing them so brightly. From time to time, some spot shone brighter than others, surely a big explosion or else. To say that we were here, at peace, laughing, and not so far from here: some blokes were splinted in half and thrown out into the void with their blood and guts flowing out in the interstellar space. Besides that, good God man! We were bored as hell.
The only thrilling moment was when a sticker detached. We looked for it everywhere. Of course, the sticky thing went off with the sand, but, at least, we had the text to make another one. I wanted to do it right away, without finding the old one, because, you know, three or four months doing the same thing, I knew these papers by heart, don’t I? But the sergeant threatens to beat the shit out of me if I was to say anything. So, we spent almost a week trying to find that little paper in the desert. After that, same old story: bringing some water, pressing buttons, pressing water and bringing buttons.
And then, after we’ve completely forgotten even for our names, a new special message: delivery scheduled in two days. Joy to the world and peace in our hearts.
Boxes arrived and the pig-fucker pilots flew in low to drop them, result: one tent absolutely gone. We found a small portion of it, but one thing was clear, we’ll be hot under the only tent left. We opened these bloody things and there they were, in a ray of light bathing them, our rifles. We almost forgot about it and, to be honest, at this point we were sure it wouldn’t be the right ones. As an apology, they dropped in some liquor. They know how to do it: a little note and some bottles of whisky older than me, I blacked out the next day.
And back to boredness, bored as hell, the desert's as dull as dishwater. We only had one card game, and the king of hearts was missing, left with the queen of clubs. You can say that the queen of hearts was quite pissed off. That’s how we were passing time, talking nonsense. One morning, Richard gets in the tent in underwear, tan as custard, despite the shiny sun, but still with the tan line of sunglasses. That gives you an idea on how the camp was ruled, doesn’t it? Space hoboes rather than militaries. We never thought of ourselves as squaddies anyway; we are appointed voluntaries to go to space and fight some bloody aliens with rubbish material as efficient as a slingshot. Anyway, he wields his rifle, pointing it at me and says:
“Shit, dude! If you could see yo face! You are in need of action, bro!”
Well, you know me, as usual, I told him to fuck off, I have to catch up on sleep and spruce myself up. Insults were the base of your communication with my mate, Richard. I met him one night, I was drunk as a bunghole, in a skanky pub, back on our lovely planet Earth, I forgot the name of the city, I already was a tramp back then.
Some messy story with a girl I was trying to forget.