Chapter 1: A day in life...
Elegantly plated, more than an inch broad and 4 inches wide gold embedding on the shoulder loops of my uniform, irrespective of the massive load of responsibility that it held, feels light in the palm of my hand as my eyes study it. Insignia of the Second Lieutenant (2LT/01).
Dark colored weather coat with gold buttons and stripes around the cuffs, the tiny little badges around the crest, and lastly, the pin on the right side of the chest that read 'Carson' in bright bold letters. It makes my stomach flip with the realization of the huge system that I am now a part of. The US Army.
Today has just been one of the days where I have to remind myself of the reason that kept had me together. Precisely, five months ago I had been out stationed in Colorado Springs at the base that our company had set up and has been so far working along rather greatly though, I wish I could say the same thing about me.
My emerald green eyes have been drooping with the lack of sleep at this 0400 hour. In front of me lay a pile of neatly sorted reports that I had been going through for the past four hours. As a Second (rank) Lieutenant, I had been given the task of preparing the progress reports of my entire platoon that consists of 25-27 men. With the continuous ticking in my nerves, the dull ache in my head and the sunken eyes, I managed to finish with them. But now as I lay on my rack, facing the high ceiling painted with dull white, sleep wouldn't cross me.
Its one of the odd times when I felt the indescribable wave of emotions flowing through me. And in order to get myself in control of it all, I had to clung tight to some piece of reality, that being the uniform that lay on my lap.
No sooner than an hour later I wake up to get going for the drills and routine exercises with the other officers as we have our secluded PT sessions starting at 0630 hours.
After getting dressed in a body-fitting black T-shirt and pants as I'm done with my shoes, I stomp out of my room to head out for my routine exercises. However, as I enter the ground, I am met with a disapproving look from the Captain, it seems that I was rather late today and all the others had already started with their workout.
As I took my place, squatting down to the field with my knees bend and back straight, I'm greeted by none other than my friend Nathan “Hey, what took you so long?” I give him a knowing look. With a pitiful smile thrown my way, he shrugs it off.
We begin with the workout.
After, a few sets and specialized leg exercises. We head for my personal favorite one. The 2-3 miles running from the base.
By the time we are done, I am panting heavily, my whole body drenched in sweat with aching joints and soaked T-shirt that clings to my body like a second skin. Now this is something I should've gotten used to ages ago. “Come on let's get cleaned up” Nathan says, offering his equally sweaty hand for me to get up from the crouched position I have on the floor.
“Sure” is all I could bring myself to reply as I take his arm.
After, a good 20-25 min shower when we are done cleaning ourselves up we decide to have something to fill our growling stomach. And that's how we enter the cafe “I am never going to get used to that” I grimace pointing towards the dull aka non-tasty but healthy food. I despise that with every damn fiber of my being, but I hide my displeasure as I pick up a tray for myself.
With a slightly over dramatic and determined sigh I will myself to be strong as I reminisce about the few days left in our departure. “Just a week more, then I'll be stuffing my face with mac and cheese, spaghetti with meat balls, gummy bears, Nutella...”
“Let's not get carried away. We have a body to maintain without having our seniors kicking our asses off for putting on holiday weight.” Nathan cuts me off though, my mind wanders off into that sinfully sweet nook.
Honey glazed pancakes...
The list just never ceases to fucking end. I miss them all so damn much! I pout inwardly instead.
We then head towards our regular table at the back of the large canteen room. “Hi barbie, so you finally decide to show up?” Frank yells as we near the table. This guy seriously never ceases to amaze me with his pea sized head.
“Where were you anyway, oh let me guess you ...” he says pointing towards me as the entire cafe fell silent sensing tension. “Overslept again ...Ooh! you Sleeping Beauty, I bet there wasn't any prince charming to wake you up with a kiss” and the entire table bursts out laughing. Thankfully there aren't many people in here today to bear witness to this crazy asshole.
“What did you just say?” he screeches. Great! Now did I just say that out loud? I really am not in the mood to deal with his shitty temper tantrums. So I try my best to look away from the pile of shit that he calls his face.
“Nothing go on...” I absentmindedly motion for him to continue his pathetic excuse to intimidate me. And like the doofus he is, he smirks.
“Anyways, leave. I'm getting bored with watching that stupid face of yours looking at me” like I said pure pathetic. But instead I give him a nod, and he returns to his seat. Nathan looks at me glinting eyes that urge me grab that fuckers neck but I refrain from it, so he presses on with a glare at me that said 'How long are you gonna bear his ass?' but what he doesn't get is that why should I start an unnecessary fight and waste my time and energy on this fucking moron.
But he does not get the hint as he pulls me to a corner, our breakfast forgotten at those empty tables. “Are you crazy?! What's wrong with you?! Why don't you do something about him?”
Now I know that he's gonna give me lecture about standing up for myself. Nathan has this tendency of always being the 'nice guy'. “Dude you know me Why would I waste my time against that piece of shit?” I groan with sheer displeasure that we're even discussing this.
“But if you allow me I would very much like to teach him some manners” he grumbles under his breath. He's always the protective one.
I roll my eyes. “It's fine, as long as its not physical I would just simply ignore him and continue with my work” I say calmly.
“Damn it! ... I'm telling you, you need to show this idiot his actual place” he seethes.
“We'll see about that” I shrug. To reduce further arguments I grab his arm and take him outside. It was not like I was scared of Frank or anything, but unlike others I wouldn't want to give people the satisfaction of watching other's fights. It's good for him that I have my shit gathered or else I wouldn't wait a second before breaking his damn nose.
As we walk to our table, much to my dismay Frank's still there, surrounded by his group of dimwitted friends. I avert my gaze from him and hope to start a good conversation with Nathan. Who, by the way had been still glaring at him!
“Nathan, get over it man. We have a lot of things to take care of than to think about him” I try, turning my attention back to food.
“The only thing I want to take care of right now is how to rearrange his stupid face” he scowls. I keep the fork down irritatingly.
“Are you really gonna sour your mood because of ...” I am cut off by Ashton as he makes an appearance at the table with his stack of tray filled with large quantities of food. He ate quite a lot but damn did the fucker look like he did. He was blessed with a perfectly agile body with bulky muscles and tall stature.
“I miss my turkey sandwiches” he sighs placing a hand on his heart while wiping a nonexistent tear.
Another drama queen.
“About rearranging Frank's damn face” Nathan continues.
“Looks like somebody is in a very bad mood” Ashton chuckles, his eyes glinting with mischief.
“So what did the scumbag do today?” I give Ashton a pointed look warning him to not provoke Nathan, but he being the oblivious doofus as usual ignores me. “Oh! Come on tell me, maybe I can suggest some surgery for his shit face” he pouts, not much to my surprise Nathan narrates the entire incident to him while I zone out from the conversation.
“So let me see he calls you 'sleeping Beauty', orders you around and all you do is just nod. Since when did you get so fucking saint, huh? If it was me, I wouldn't hesitate to rearrange his entire body, maybe break his arm and shove it far up his ass” Ashton suggests with a nasty smirk.
If only it was that easy. I sigh.
After we are done with our so called 'happy meal', we are told to meet up in the base along with the other officers. It's almost 1500 hours in the afternoon. We all gather around in a huge hall with erect posture while the Major and Captain enter.
“I'm sure a few of you are familiar with the reason for which we have been asked to meet up: It is regarding your departure in the time being of next week. It hasn't been a secret that threat is still lingering near the borders of Iran. Therefore, it is with me to tell you that if it goes out of hands, and we have to take some drastic measures, your deployment will be earlier than you would expect.” and then with the intensity of a rogue bear waiting to shred you apart, he glares at each of our faces and might I say... individually. “Any further queries?”
To which we all reply in unison.
He turns his attention towards me “And Lieutenant Carson I want all the reports regarding the recent assignment within an hour, I hope it's ready”.
“Yes major, it's done” I reply with a stiff salute. “You may all take your leave now” with this we all scatter to our work.
“I was seriously hoping for a good vacation” grumbles Ashton with a not so discreet pout.
“Yeah sure. Obviously our Ashton's little summer holidays are important than national threat. Anyways what was it going to be this holidays, coloring picture book? With little fruits.” I smile at Nathan's words and Ashton narrows his eyes in agitation.
Both Ashton and Nathan head back to their posts, and I have to still hand over the reports to Major Hardy, so I get back to those too.
After an hour of rechecking everything I leave the room to hand the reports, it's almost evening. The sun blazing in its massive glory while giving the air a beautiful tint of red. The different shades of color dancing over the horizon and blending together. Birds chirping around the free atmosphere and flying through the wind with their flocks, filing the air with yet another soothing sounds. This was the sight I always adored. A beautiful sunset buried all my disturbing thoughts and gave me a new hope to start over.
Without wasting much time I walk along the sleek corridor of his quarters, over to the Major's Office, he's in there as usual. I knock the door twice. “Enter” he replies neutrally with a stiff tone. His office aside from being well furnished is the biggest one around the entire camp, with a casual book shelf and a huge mahogany desk, the wall at the back of his chair lined up with medals and photos as if a slight hint of intimidation towards the one's entering.
He seems busy doing some work with some green files that he gathers in his hands. “Major these are reports of the assignment you asked for” I look at him, expecting any comment. “Keep it on the desk and you may leave Lieutenant” is all he says without even looking up from his files.
I did as I am told, so much for working up till 4 in the morning. I think to myself as I retract back to my room. Being tired and aching, I thought sleeping for sometime wouldn't hurt, I move to lay on the rack, but just as I do. I hear someone knocking on the door. Ugh! These people won't even let me sleep for good. Rubbing my sullen eyes I open the door, there stood Nathan and Ashton panting heavily with beads of sweats on their foreheads.
“What happened?” I ask with wide eyes, I am met with silence.
“Will someone tell me anything?” I look towards both of them.
“Can we come in first?” I move aside to let them in.
“So now can I know what's going on?” I ask anxiously. Upon inspecting carefully, I see Nathan has specks of dust on his trousers, his hair disheveled, poise tense, unsteady breath, a bruise on his knuckles, which were now bleeding. Ashton too has a cut on his lip with some fresh blood.
Nathan hesitates at first, his gray eyes unfocused as they went about through my room, looking anywhere but me. “Well, let's say we met up in the alley with Frank...” that was enough for me to figure out the cause of their mess.
“Tell me you didn't pick a fight with him” I am really hoping that wasn't true.
“It wasn't much of a fight actually” replies Ashton. “What did you guys do?” I ask furiously with an almost panicked tone.
“Let's just say that he has a broken nose, bruised eye and dislocated shoulder for ...now” says Nathan thoughtfully as if struggling to remember the number of kicks and punches he landed. I look at them horrified.
Are these guys for real why did they have to get involved in that shit? “Why would you guys do that even when I told you to let that matter go?”
“Trust me we had forgotten about it, if that idiot hadn't shown up in the first place. He was saying stupid shit about you, so we couldn't just sit there and take it” Nathan shrugs as if no big deal.
“Listen guys I don't need any guards for myself, and we're in an army for God's sake we can't just go around kicking people's ass”
I reply tiredly.
“Jace, dude that's what we do to bad guys, and he wasn't any good either” Ashton complains, earning a death glare from me.
“Can't believe I'm listening to this shit, way to be mature guys”
Who do they think they are acting all defensive towards me like I'm some damsel that needs help? My damn bodyguards!
I sigh, running a hand through my hair, now's not the time to pick fight among us. Given that Nathan was short tempered, he never pegged me as fighter and the bruise on his face and busted knuckles implied it. But Ash is always good with his muscles and fighting skills...
“And what's with that?” I point towards his lip.
“Well... I tripped over on my way here” Ash replies his cheeks heating up in embarrassment.
“Talk all you guys want, but we don't have time there is another problem yet to be settled” Nathan mumbles. “What problem? You guys kicked his ass, wasn't the matter ended there itself” I ask obviously not liking where this is heading.
“When we kicked Frank's ass...” I motion him to continue. “Somebody saw it and informed the captain about it, so now he wants to see us” Nathan mutters lowly.
“In that case then... You shouldn't keep him waiting now or there are more chances of things getting worse for ya'll” I tell them as a matter of fact.
“You don't get it. He umm... h-he wants all three of us to be present, as you were the reason it happened in first place” Ashton quietly adds looking anywhere but me. I groan audibly.
And I felt this day couldn't get any better.
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