Saturday, 15 October 2011

Life Lessons #fridayflash

My Dad said I'd never amount to much. Slacker, he called me. Good for nothing! Sitting in front of that damn thing all day, when the sun is shining. What's wrong with you? Why don't you play outside like a normal boy?" Yada, yada, the soundtrack of my teens.

I didn't care back then. High School was dull, full of idiotic tribes whose inane rituals bored me. My teachers with their constant nagging, You won't get a good job without decent grades, even duller . My parents were tolerable, but they weren't exactly setting the world alight. Dad with his dreary job at the tax office. Mom with her bake sales and bridge clubs. Why would I aspire to that? Is it any wonder DS was where I came alive?

At first it was the film games I loved the most - Transformers, The Green Lantern, X Men. I loved playing all the lead roles, fighting for justice, defeating the bad guys. It was a blast. That was till I came across the war games - Battlefield, Halo, Soldiers of Anarchy.  Soon I found whole worlds to command - my strategic skills and quick fire reactions winning battle after battle. I conquered lands, and empires. My enemies fled at the sight of me pumping bullets with my AK47s. It was an adrenalin rush all right. No wonder daily life sucked.

Dad never got it of course. How could he? Tied to his desk and his spreadsheets and ledgers. I doubt he ever had an exciting moment in his life. He was such a loser. No wonder that heart attack killed him at 50. I expect it was the stress of living so monotonously.

Still. I've showed him. I've showed them all. Those whiny teachers with their lousy report cards. The principals who hauled me in their offices for their tedious Pull Your Socks Up lectures. See, it turns out, after all, those years weren't wasted. All that playing with joysticks and staring at computer screens was perfect preparation for a life worth living, serving my country. All that time to get me ready for this:

My computer screen has a perfect image, relayed back to me through the clear blue sky. A man is standing on the dusty street below, waiting outside a single story brick house. The intelligence on the ground has confirmed it, but I am waiting for him to turn round. To see the face of my enemy. Across the street, I see someone hail him. He turns round, relaxed, easy, unaware of the danger he is in. I cannot pick out his features. I zoom in.  The picture is blurry, but that long beard, those black rimmed glasses and hook nose are unmistakeable.  It's him alright. My pulse is racing, as I call it in.

"We have confirmation, target is on the plot. Repeat. We have confirmation.  Target is on the plot. Do I have permission to fire.Over?"

The response is sweet. The words I've been longing to hear.

"Target approved. Fire at will.Over."

I wipe drops of sweat from my forehead and reach for the controls. For a second, nothing happens. Then the flash of the bomb. The flume of smoke. Rubble, dust. People running.

"Target taken out. Over."

"Nice job sergeant. Over and Out."

I pull off the head-set and hand over to my co-pilot. I walk away from the booth and grab myself a Coke from the machine. The sweet taste of victory trickles down my throat as my colleagues surround me with congratulations. Another kill for my country. As always, it's quite a rush. I can't get enough.

My Dad said I'd never amount to much. If only he could see me now.


Anonymous said...

I think I knew he would still end up a loser; he just wasn't a very friendly character. Mean and ungrateful. You could use him again somewhere as I think this boy could be really interesting. Imagine if he really did end up in the army.

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Virginia Moffatt said...

Thanks, I'm glad he's believable. The sad thing is that he IS in the airforce now. He's piloting remotely for a living...Perhaps I need to make it clearer...

D. Paul said...

So very true, and sad at the same time. I've been working on a short story with a similar idea, but further into the future. He is believable, and I did think it was about our modern forces.

Well done!

KjM said...

Oh dear. He found his niche, but I'm not sure it's a good thing.

Excellent voice through all of this piece.

Remote control war/remote control death - and a cold soda at the end.

Chillingly written.

Icy Sedgwick said...

I've often wondered if people could put skills like that to good use but unfortunately I don't think he's got the right mindset to go with it.

Peter Newman said...

I'm glad I stuck with playing superhero games!

I liked the character voice, very distinct.

John Wiswell said...

I think it's the lot of parents to not "get" their kids. They're the first test of who you can sustain being. But maybe this fella shouldn't necessarily sustain...

Sonia Lal said...

Well, at least he gets to use childhood skills. Must be good at it. But I don't like him.