BOOT CAMP, PART 1.
The fifth entry in the diary of Jesse Charleston Maith
17 December 15 N.G, 2130hrs.
Boot camp is almost finished.
I’m 15, but my body feels like that of a wheelchair-bound ninety-year-old in a nursing home. I can barely move any of my limbs and muscles, I’m so tired.
Sarah, Matt, Mary and I arrived at Eastern Chesapeake Divine Army base, on the border of the Marva fallout zone, two months ago today.
The twenty-minute warp-aeroplane ride from Teterboro was impressive enough, but after we landed on the east tarmac next to the brown waters of the Chesapeake Bay, I saw most beautiful building I’d ever seen. Now I know where the gazillions of dollars our government’s infinite resources went!
The recruit welcome center was, to put in layperson’s terms, a gem. And I don’t mean in the cliché sense; it looked like a piece of jewelry!
The blinding incandescent lights that shine above the roof makes the entrance to Devon Jackson’s house look like Everton’s boiler room. The inside is what heaven is if the pearly gates were white and the clouds were gold. There are fifty floating holographic check-in stations. Once you check in, a personalized mini black pea pod-looking hover-craft pulls up and transports you throughout the complex.
The extreme opposite of the gem welcoming center, the recruitment auditorium is a drab amphitheater constructed during the World War II era in the USA. The tiny seats were so uncomfortable I’m sure the “cushions” on the back rests had thorn bushes beneath them.
Figuratively speaking, it’s a soul-killing dungeon of fear and degradation.
And that’s where we met our drill sergeant, Lt. Justin Louis.
The angriest and hardest specimen to ever walk this earth.
With how loud he screams, how is his voice functional?
And, with how many times he’ll remind you he’s a six-foot-seven man of steel that survived the H-bombing in Washington, served five tours of duty in the Endgame, and attends Joshuan prayer sessions daily, it’s no wonder Mary dubbed him “Angry Superman!”
On the first day of basic training, Lt. Louis and I became… well-acquainted.
We were joined by the Faithville Four in Barrack 809, named after our platoon number, the closest one to the outskirts of the Marva fallout zone. At precisely 800rs, while wearing our all-white uniforms, we stood firm in front of our metal bunks.
When you look at a man such as Justin Louis, standing upright without flinching is impossible.
When he approached me and yelled in my face, a psychological tactic any drill sergeant uses to get a rise out of their troops, his expression would make even the greatest actors in history lose a straight face.
Picture yourself after drinking ten bottles of harlowcane. Your vision becomes kaleidoscopic, and basic facial features become 3D images. When Louis screamed words like “maggot” and “nitwit” in his gravelly, demonic snarl, he appeared like a red-eyed beast drooling brown saliva while its mouth protruded back and forth like a seesaw.
I didn’t need to be high on harlowcane to picture it. Was it my imagination getting the best of me? Probably, but would everyone agree? I’m sure!
After about the third or fourth “maggot,” my stone face melted into a grin. My chuckling could be heard throughout the entire barracks.
“IS THERE SOMETHING FUNNY ABOUT THE WAY I TALK, MAGGOT?! DO YOU WISH TO DIE IN THESE BARRACKS HERE TODAY, DISHONORABLY AND WITH MY HAND JAMMED STRAIGHT DOWN YOUR THROAT?!”
Smiling, I screamed, “SIR! NO SIR!”
“WHAT’S SO GODDAMN FUNNY?!”
His voice cracked when the word funny rolled off his tongue, and I lost it.
When I doubled over in laughter, Louis rammed his right hand into my left shoulder, knocking me backward.
“I’M GOING TO FEED YOUR BALLS TO A DOG AND CUT YOUR SPINE IN HALF IF YOU DON’T SHAPE UP AND QUIT LAUGHING RIGHT THIS MINUTE, MAGGOT! YOU’RE GOING TO APOLOGIZE TO ME FOR YOUR DISRESPECT THIS INSTANT! DO YOU UNDERSTAND ME!”
As I stood up and postured myself, I ceased laughing, but I expected the psychological tactic deployed on me.
“SIR, YES, SIR! I WILL DO WHATEVER YOU COMMAND FROM THIS MOMENT FORWARD, SIR!”
“THEN YOU’D BETTER EXPLAIN WHY YOU FELT THE NEED TO LAUGH AT YOUR DRILL SERGEANT!”
“SIR! I’VE SEEN LOTS OF MILITARY MOVIES!”
“WHAT IN THE NAME OF JOSHUA EVANS IS THAT SUPPOSED TO MEAN?!”
“SIR! I BELIEVE WE NEED TO ENJOY THE PRECIOUS FUNNY MOMENTS WE HAVE REMAINING BEFORE GOING TO BATTLE, SIR!”
“AND THAT INCLUDES LAUGHING AT ME, MAGGOT?!”
“SIR, YES SIR!”
Louis paused, then came nose-to-nose and gave a thirty-second death stare. Miraculously, I kept a straight face. Apparently, I had passed another test.
“MAITH, YOU’RE A DISGUSTING, UNENLIGHTENED COMMUNIST WORM WITH NO SENSE OF DECENCY OR RESPECT! BUT YOU HAVE THE GUTSY ATTITUDE I WANT TO SEE ON THAT BATTLEFIELD, AND FOR THAT, I WON’T KILL YOU! FOR THE RECORD, I’M IMPRESSED! BUT DON’T MESS WITH ME AGAIN! DO YOU UNDERSTAND?!”
“SIR! YES SIR!”
From that moment forward, he never gave me a hard time.