Woohoo! More of Steve Johnson's terrific WWII elf and dwarf fantasy!
If you are new to our adventure:
The opening is here:
My old man says that in the old days, back before he came over in ’78 with Lafayette, the King was appointed by God. That meant the officers appointed by the King were in God’s chain of command. They didn’t have chaplains back then, so the Colonel, or the Captain, was also the Sky Pilot in Chief of his command. He had to be ready with a sermon whenever it came up.
Well, I’m not an officer. But I was all King had right now. I called the men together.
“Y’all better listen UP, y’hear?” I shouted.
I’m from New York, but that doesn’t matter. Every sergeant in the Army sounds, or at least yells, like a Confederate veteran.
“Take off yer helmets,” I barked. “Now this heah, underNEATH of your helmet, is your BRAIN HOUSING GROUP. Nomenclature: hair … scalp … skull … brain. Your optical SENSING system and OW-ditory sensing system are ATTACHED to the BRAIN HOW-sing group. Your CHOW hole is located BELOW, and FORWARD of, your brain HOUSING group.”
Make that an angry Confederate veteran. You want to keep combat men’s attention, you have to give it some emphasis.
“Maintenance: KEEP your brain HOUSING group clean! When possible, keep it dry. Remove all but one INCH of HAIR as often as necessary. This task CAN be performed by NON specialists!”
It was all an act, at first — the yelling, the not-quite-cussing, the sarcasm, the insults – sergeantry in general. I copied the sergeants who’d trained me, back before I became one.
“Disassembly: do NOT attempt to disasSEMble your BRAIN HOUSING group! Nothing serviceable by non-specialists is contained INSIDE!”
But then about two years into the Army (and only a couple of months into combat) I figured out what was eating me. This was right after a dogface with a very old M1 Garand fired off five shots with one pull of the trigger. Seems the sear was so worn down it didn’t catch properly, turning the M1 into an automatic weapon. Pretty soon lots of the doggies were filing their sears down on purpose, so as to have their very own automatic Garands.
A couple of them wound up with jammed rifles. Which was better than the optimist who didn’t reassemble his action properly, and got the bolt carrier group back in his face.
That’s when I realized the simple truth: the doggie was the enemy. His laziness, his sloppiness, and his aimlessness were the only things that kept him from killing us all through sheer stupid overconfidence. If he pulled the grenade ring with his teeth, and thereby ruined said teeth and made him unfit for service until they were repaired, at least that was one grenade he didn’t drop at his feet, or throw full-armed into a tree ten feet away so it bounced back behind himself, or carry on his belt by the by-our-lady safety ring so it fell off after a thousand up-and-down bounces on the move. Joe Dogface was going to kill us all.
Now my sergeantry isn’t an act any more. I don’t want the guys to die, but they don't make it any easier sometimes.
“InSIDE your brain is your SOUL HOUSING GROUP, one each. Its exact workings are CLASSIFIED. But it keeps BODY an' SOUL toGETHER. If you do not keep your soul housing group in good repair, like for example by NOT wearing a HELMET, your soul WILL escape. That can be GOOD, or it can be BAD. The Army answer is that it is BAD.”
“Yeah, you in the back,” I said. I knew his face, but not his name.
“Sergeant, what if we go to Heaven? That’s good, ain’t it?"
I scowled. But now I remembered the earnest smartass’ name.
“Sure, Trasky. Sure. You get to spend Eternity in the Heavenly Fields with Almighty God and his legion of angels. While MEANWHILE, down here on EARTH, your country, your family, your BUDDIES are suffering under the iron rule of SATAN, because we LOST the WAR! Still sound like a good idea to YOU?”
“But Satan’s the prince of this world, Sarge.”
“Yeah, well, we don’t want him becoming King, too.”