Hold on to your butts, as I try my shaking, unpracticed hand at satire this week. WARNING: Some violent descriptions and cursing in the follwing entry. Only read through partially covered eyes.
Angel of the Battlefield
The smell was practically a corporeal entity in the small, yet densely populated cellar. A thick, invisible mist that tasted like sweat, smoke, weapon oil and alcohol revealed most of what you needed to know about the makeup of the slightly odd gathering. Every chair around every table was occupied, with singing, shouting, brawling soldiers celebrating a job well done. The skew was definitely quite male, with the few women present making sure to pull their caps as far down in front of their faces as possible. They knew what to expect from the laughing, fist-bumping congregation surrounding them, should they be caught wind of. The losing team, or noobs, as the winners referred to them as were also present, but apart from a few angry yells of cheating or foul play, they kept mostly quiet and to themselves.
Just as another round of beers was being handed out, a thin, wiry man with a shamagh covering most of his face, and a long, intimidating bolt-action sniper rifle rested across his chest jumped up on one of the flimsy wooden tables, and stood there, silently, waiting for everyone's attention. He held his hands out to the side, as if politely asking for silence, as more and more heads turned towards him. When he felt a sufficiently large part of the crowd was looking at him, he finally opened his mouth to speak.
"Bitches!" he shouted, and got a wave of laughs and raised glasses in return. He started pacing back and forth across the poor table, which looked about ready to topple over at any minute, like a rock star making his audience wait for their favorite song.
"Most of you don't know me," he announced with a cocky grin camouflaged by the shamagh. "Most of you have never seen me before. But I know all of you," he said, and let a pointed finger run across the entire crowd, before resting his hand on his rifle
"I see you through the 12x ballistic scope of my M40A5 sniper rifle, and in the breathless moment before I take your life, I am closer to you than your mother, your father and a whole gaggle of your closest friends combined. I am a sniper, and though I may be acres away when I pull my trigger, I am right next to you when you die."
"You're full of shit!" came a call from the audience, which triggered a wave of laughter, and calls for the young sniper to get off the damn table.
Instead of complying, he spun around in the direction of the man who had shouted at him, shifting his weight around so that the table didn't break underneath him. Then he waited for a moment, for his captive audience to settle down. As the silence descended, he expertly twisted his hand down to the rifle's bolt, and pulled it back in a motion so smooth and practiced, he didn't even have to look down as his gloved hand snatched the ejected bullet casing out of the air. With his eyes surveying the crowd, he held it up between two of his fingers, triumphantly.
"This casing contained a 7.62x51mm NATO round, which left my barrel at 777 meters p/s, and 1.59 seconds and 1.239 meters later connected with its target, the right eye of my enemy."
"Thanks for the math lesson, professor!" came another call from the audience, and another wave of laughter.
"No. Thank you for making my point," the sniper grinned. "Because whereas the rest of you Neanderthals run around clubbing and blowing up anything you see, I operate on a higher level. I am a surgeon among teamsters, and my rifle is my scalpel."
As if to emphasize his point, the sniper slid the bolt back into place, making sure it made more noise than necessary. He lifted the rifle above his head, and held it there for a few seconds, silently allowing his rant to build to its crescendo.
"I am the one who ends your existence when you feel the safest, I am the angel of Death stalking the battlefield, and I the one protecting my comrades when their hour is darkest. I am the one who can spot a target a nation away, and with a gentle tug of my trigger, unleash the magic shot. I am the one who creates the pink mist. I am a sniper, and the master of the battlefield."
He had said enough. The audience shouted a hearty HOOAH! as the sniper jumped down, and cockily strode back to his seat. As he did, however, another man sitting two tables over, took a deep swig of his beer, and got to his feet, climbing awkwardly up on his own table. He had a long bullet belt hanging around his neck, and he carried a heavy, cumbersome machine gun between his hands. As the crowd noticed him, he cocked his head to the side, and threw a venomous glance at the sniper.
"I'm sure we're all suitably impressed by our surgeon friend in the corner," he said with a mocking golf clap. "How many kills do you rack up during an encounter, doctor? Two? Three?"
A loud metallic noise reverberated through the premises as he cocked his heavy firearm.
"In front of me, I'm holding the M249 SAW. Like the name implies, this bitch, when treated correctly, will shear a man in half. In the right hands, mine, I can lay waste to entire squads of enemies who try to fuck with me, or my team."
The crowd was loving it.
"I carry your ammo to the battle, and I keep the enemy from sticking his head of the hole he hides in. Keep your scalpel and your two kills, junior. This is a man's war."
Before the machine gunner could even get off the table, another man, wearing a pilot's g-suit stood up, ready to grab the bragging baton. And so it continued. One after one, soldier after soldier, they all stood up to announce to their drunken comrades how vastly superior they were to all of them. Helicopter pilots, mine layers, commandos, mortar crews and anti-air personnel. They were all saluted with increasingly loud HOOAHs. Apart from the one guy who spent most of his time on the table slowly licking his knife. That just made everyone uncomfortable. Just as the tank driver was basking in his plaudits, the floorboards over in the darkest corner started creaking violently, and a slow, ironic clapping could be heard, as a beast of a man walked into the light, illuminating his scarred face. His steely, sunken eyes surveyed the room menacingly, as he stepped into the middle of the floor, still clapping, mocking the tank driver as he jumped down off the table. In the corner of his mouth, he was chomping on a small stub of a cigar.
"Well done, all of you!" he barked ironically, in a voice so rasping, it could grate cheese. "Look at you. Never have I been in the company of such a collection of bad-asses. Such manly men among men. Fucking one-man armies, the whole bunch of you. So eager to maim and kill your enemies. No fear, no regret..."
"Who the fuck are you?" the sniper shouted angrily.
"'Who the fuck am I'"? the man snapped, and walked over to the sniper's table, hovering over him, eclipsing the light hanging from the roof. "I saw your 'magic shot'. It must have been an impressive view through your scope. Nearly a mile away, and right through the poor bastards eye, right?"
The sniper nodded, hesitantly.
"Wrong!" the big man shouted, and slammed both his huge hands down on the table, making the sniper jump. "You hit him in the head alright. Glanced off his skull right above the ear. Enough to make total, bloody mess of his head, but not enough to kill him. Not right away. Who am I? I am the one who could do nothing but hold his hand, and pump him full of morphine as he slowly and agonizingly died."
He turned to face the rest of the room.
"I am the one who runs into the machine gunners fire in a foolish attempt at saving the man he's just shorn in half. I'm the one who treats the third degree burns the bomber pilot has inflicted on a squad of unsuspecting boys in uniform. I am the fucking one who has to stuff the stab victim's wound full of gauze to stop the profuse bleeding your knife has caused. Would you stop licking that thing for one damn minute!? Everyone thinks you're weird."
The big medic took a deep puff from his stogie, and sighed hard.
"You all make me sick. Every one of you. You don't give a second thought to the misery and the pain you cause, and leave to people like me to clean up. You fight in these endless conflicts, day in and day out, oblivious to the fact that nothing ever comes of it. There are no winners in this war. We finish one skirmish, and jump right into the next, and nothing ever changes. We are caught in an endless cycle of suffering and death, and no-one seems to mind."
The room went silent. No-one was singing or clapping, the sound of glasses clinking together had died down, and every head in the room sank towards the floor. For a split second, you could see a flicker in the medic's jaded eyes. Had he finally gotten through to them? Was this the start of something new, something better? Maybe the chance for co-operation and understanding, rather than this senseless conflict?
Suddenly the room erupted into another rapturous HOOAH! and the medic, dejected, had his answer. Everyone got on their feet, and started piling together to get to the exit as fast as possible. Above the large double doors, a neon sign had lit up, and a familiar countdown had started anew.
The Next Round Begins In: 7...6...5...4...