19 Oct


“Nature’s cruel! Staros.” says Lt Col Gordon Tall to Captain Staros. “Look at those vines, look at the way they twist around everything. Swallowing everything up.”

Tall is relieving Staros of command. Staros is not tough-fibered enough. He’s not tough-fibered enough because he refused to obey Tall’s order. Tall’s order was that all Staros’ men run up a steep grassy hill. At the top of the hill was a hole-in-the-wall. The bees that came out were fast. They fly out of tunnels that swing:


They sting bad.

Before, Captain Staros’d tried talking the colonel into a flanking manoeuvre. No dice, advance up that hill – now! Staros says no! And indicates the time, he’s a lawyer. Lt Col Gordon Tall goes ballistic! His face turns an almost neon purple. It’s a good thing for Staros that Gordon Tall is not actually there face-to-face, in person, turning purple. He’d probably shoot the guy.

So Staros says no and Tall barges up to the front. And, because the machine-guns’d stopped firing, Tall can pretend they’d never been all that bad in the first place. His one goal now is to jump up and down on Staros’ guts until he looks like run-over toothpaste. Then he has to win the motherfucking battle. Meanwhile the troops are running out of water. But Tall can’t think about that right now. He needs to take that hill.

Reconnaissance reveals a blind spot on the enemy’s side. Tall does the rousing speech thing. Talks sympathetically about the water shortage as if it’s someone else’s fault. He wants a small bunch to take out the bunker. A squad of volunteers assembles. They sneak up the hill and they take out the bunker. The rest follow without their faces full of metal bees this time. Enemy over-run, hill taken. Victory. A flanking manoeuvre.

Many Japanese die that day. Japanese corpses all over. The healthy- captured are so mind-fucked with patriotism that they’re going mental. One meditates, still amidst the chaos. The Americans? Some collect the gold from the teeth of corpses. Some cry in each other’s embrace. One or two get off on the power. I guess mostly they’d be glad they’re still living. The Japanese aren’t. Their minds have been set to bee mode. They’re supposed to go back home with their shields or on them.

And then Lt Col Gordon Tall relieves Staros of his command ’cause he’s not tough-fibred enough. Nothing to do with cowardice, it’s not mutiny. Staros is a fine officer, it’s just his heart’s not hard enough y’see. And this is an important campaign in a major war. This is the Lieutenant-Colonel’s first major combat opportunity and the flanking manouevre looks good on a report. Soldiers are like that, in life – competition.

Nature’s cruel Staros.


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