Friday, February 19, 2016

Dark Winter; Snippet.the First

This did NOT make the cut.

For obvious reasons:

The janitor’s breakroom, smelled of decades long gone dead cigarettes and newly arrived dead feet. The feet in question belonging to a man in late middle age who had spent a lifetime upon them. The breakroom had two major upsides as a field expedient berthing area. One; it was completely windowless, so it could be blacked out with the flip of a light switch any time day or night. When you are on a four hour (at most sleep) cycle that matters a hell of a lot. 

And two; it was located over the throbbing hum of an industrial air conditioner, the white noise overwhelmed everything else, it made sleep just barely possible.

General Shane Dillard, rolled off the Walmart grade sofa and on to his feet. Rubbed very red achy eyes and looked over at the cheap plastic alarm clock with red LED numbers.  
Seven hours! They’d let him sleep for seven hours when he’d God damn good and well told Burris to wake him after four. I have a God damn wife, to take care of me, God damn it. I’ll have Burris’ balls on a stick!

He slammed open the door of the janitor’s break room and stormed down the hall. Trying to make himself feel much more angry than he actually was. He’d been in the Marine Corps for forty years, half of that had been without any sleep. I am not a new boot standing on the little yellow footprints on PI, he raged to himself. If I had wanted sleep I would have joined the Army!

“Major Burris!” he roared. Burris is going to be wearing my boot so far up his ass, my heel will be massaging his prostate. God help him if he’s asleep himself.

Then Dillard got ahold of himself. Okay, okay fine, if he’s asleep. I will still tear him a new one, that’s a given...but privately. It’s forgivable. It honestly would be kind of flattering in its way, he admitted to himself, if the crusty old Marine is more on the ball then his twenty something Army aide de camp. Still, order, discipline, whatever and ooh-rah happy horseshit.

The pogues rose when he erupted into the office. “Private,” he called out vaguely to the first Army clerk he saw, “find Major Burris.”

“Uh...” The private stammered, she wasn't’ used to dealing with a general in real life. She’d been dragged up from a line company to fill the gaps that were developing.

“Now,” Dillard stated flatly.

“ advised, sir. Major Burris is down sir,” 

Dillard kept his face stock still. Didn’t even swallow. Nothing to indicate the hairs on the back of neck were standing on end. “Very well Private, carry on.”  

He exited his office and went down the staircase, headed towards the COC.  

The J3 had moved himself from the Pentagon to the old Joint and Coalition Warfighting Center in Suffolk Virginia. General Dillard was now effectively the commander of the Armed Forces of the United States. Admiral Noel of course remained the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff but at the moment all that really meant was that Noel was keeping the heat from a rapidly disintegrating Washington off of Shane Dillard. 

God, which one is the real President? Nobody could really say. And the Supreme court was going to split down the middle now that Scalia was dead.

In the meantime; Dillard told himself, ‘Step it out Marine!”’

The Joint Warfare Center’s COC looked like NASA’s mission control. It was one of the few places in the U.S. Military that looked like the U.S. Military, you see in the movies. Rows and rows of flatscreen monitors, in descending concentric semi circles. At the bottom was a Marine Lance Corporal manning a complex central monitoring station. He had the best seat in the house and he couldn’t for the life of him do anything with it. On the wall behind him was a massive computer generated map of the world and it was so cluttered as to be absolutely worthless. The kid had no idea what he was doing. He was a small system specialist and had had no training at all on operating a UNIX battle management system. His M-4 however was resting on top of his station well within one arm’s reach. Dillard was pretty sure the kid could operate that.

You never. Absolutely never saw weaponry inside a Commanding General’s’ Command Operations Center. It didn’t happen.  

It. Was. Not. Done.

A few of the enlisted men had .357 magnums strapped gunslinger style on their thighs. Everyone else was carrying a service Beretta M-9 with slightly unauthorized, vaguely illegal, civilian anti-personnel ammo. Dillard was carrying a MEU(soc) 1911, though his gun was strapped across his chest. Hip carry is convenient and the gun doesn’t move around so much. Thigh carry is fast on the draw, your hand is right there anyway but your pistol butt bumps into everything because your thigh moves all the time. Chest carry. mostly keeps your gun out of the way. Which was why Dillard was using it. He hadn’t bothered with pistol qual in years and he rather doubted he could hit anything except at contact range. There was a chance that that subject could come up which was why he was favoring John Browning’s big bore antique.

Admiral Sosa who was also chest carrying could barely keep from glaring at Dillard when he came loping up to him from the center of  the COC.

“Sorry Ed,” Dillard sotto voce whispered. “My Aide Burris was supposed to...”

“We have a Flash Z from the Roosevelt,” Sosa interrupted tersely.

“Sitrep,” Dillard said on automatic, his face going slack.

This was bad. CVN-71 USS Theodore Roosevelt was a Nimitz class supercarrier. One of only ten. A one hundred thousand ton mobile air base hauling better than ninety aircraft and more fire power than WWII. Wherever the Rough Rider went, the United States was.

“Confirmed SOD outbreak. Containment measures...weren’t implemented.”

“Who is skippering the TR these days?” Dillard wasn’t really asking a question so much as wanting to know whose name to put on the death warrant.  

“It was Marty Harris,” Sosa replied after a moment. 

Containment measures were a euphemism for euthanasia. Yeah it sucked. The world was getting very sucky. Very fast. Awkward questions could be asked later. Was Captain Harris worried about the lives of his men who had gone down? Or what would happen to him when things were calm again and the usual suspects would be free to start publically wringing their hands?

“Apparently he tried locking infected crewmen in a berthing area. Either they broke out when the crew was trying to toss a newly infected crewmen in or...or...who the fuck knows here? I’m guessing Shane!

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