I want to go home. Iowa seems so far away from this sweaty shack, blistering in the unforgiving Pacific sun. Its not just the heat. Its the pressure. The unspoken, unseen, ungodly pressure. The chattering teeth of these deafening machines eat the lives of men far away if we don't press them fast enough. Lives hang in the balance.

When Pearl Harbor became the rallying call to arms across the plains, I rushed headlong like a lemming. Strike back at the hated Japs, who dared to bloody the nose of Uncle Sam, fence sitter. It was like a flipped switch. Europe went from newsreel fodder to national concern overnight. Peace became war. Most wanted revenge on the sneaky yellow bastards. Racial hatred bubbled under the surface. The clapboard town hall was soon decked out in Fourth of July colors, which looked alien in the grip of December. The wind tore the banners away not long after. Every boy from my long twisted country road, stir crazy in the snow, lined up after the paper cried 'WAR' in black letters the size of my hand.

The recruitment officers looked fresh from retirement parties. The old men, veterans of the First War lucky enough to survive in mostly one piece, shuffled and poked, questioned and sorted. They acted with a strange grace, like they were recruiting a new generation for the VFW. Only a few had the thousand yard stare of trencher. I was poked and prodded, my ego stroked and my patriotism lauded as an example. My fateful mistake was admitting a simple skill forged in back of my Uncle Carl's general store, Sundays after church for a payment of comic books and penny candy. I could type, read and tabulate. I wonder if a flat arch or a gammy leg would have saved me. I doubt it.

Basic training from the Army was cut short by a telegram from the Secretary of the Navy. I think I would have ended up cooling my heels in England if I had survived the crazed Southern drill sergeant who dubbed us all 'boy' in a strangely demeaning manner, and relished the midnight inspection. I think it was a twisted creation of his own mind, never having seen the inside of the thick green manuals covering the base commanders office. My last midnight inspection saw me hustled off in the night, my unit getting chewed out for hiding a Navy cocksucker under the sergeant's delicate Army nose. I haven't seen any of them again.

Signals and codes run the war. Nothing is secret in the modern world. Spies don't have to steal orders fresh from the desk of a general. Not anymore. They can sit in a radio shack, hundreds of miles away and pull it from the ether. Only problem with this is the encryption. Dropping a typewriter out the back of a Jeep would make a more logical message. It is devilishly twisted. The airwaves are full of the thoughts and will of the enemy, who is actively plotting to kill you. All you have to do it figure it out, before it happens.

So now I am the human component in a huge Turing machine. The high tension lines feed right into the hulks, row on row of unfinished metal and dials and gauges and wire. They look like bizarre cocoons for monsters from a pulp novel. It makes a hum that reverberates in your bones, like a fly buzzing deep in amber. It smells of ozone and high power reactions. Some people say its like being shrunk down and dropped into a radio, living among the vacuum tubes. I think of it more as being a little cog in a vast inhuman brain. At night it glows orange through the vents, like it's powered by hellfire trapped in little glass jars. The heat is incredible, the breath of a dragon trapped in a metal cage. It fills me with dread, this thinking box. It puzzles and eats the code strings we type.

So, for what seems like a lifetime, I sit with all the others, typing the gibberish on the keys. We feed the beast. The men in the uniforms come to tell us of the great things we have done, of all the people we helped save or kill, but it doesn't matter. Nothing matters but the Beast. We must feed it. The doctors say I should go on stress leave, but they let me work. I am valuable to the war effort, and I tend this new metal god.

I feed it and it decides who lives and who dies.

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