allseeingeye did what he was best at doing, which was rousting himself from his normal lethargic state, standing up in the trench, holding his grimy raygun over his head, and blasting it over the top of the trench in the general direction of the enemy. He never hit anything, we were quite sure of that, but it wasn't really the point. He had to run ammo count down, and every twenty minutes he'd get all animated, yell and shoot twenty round bursts. We usually took cover. The man was not a good shot.

"Take that, Jerry! Oh, you want to some a that, too? Huh? FUCKING" Burst.

"He almost popped a vein that time," I said.

"Fucking A, guv'nor," Johnny said, "I was ready with the adrenaline."

He had the syringe out, too, squirting yellowy shit out the evil looking needle straight up into the air. Fucker seemed to be looking forward to injecting that deep into somebody's body. I worried about Johnny. He'd been with doyle's unit far too long.

Simulacron3 was on the hand-crank radio, slamming the handset against anything solid in the trench, which was usually depleted powerpak cases. Halspal was on the line. "Could I have a moment of your attention? I'd like to say that mmmmbmbmmbbbbmbbbbbmmbmbmbmbbbbmbbbbb." We looked up. WTF? Sim3 smiled his shy farmboy smile. He'd dropped the receiver into the mud. We were on our own again.

"Dude," I tell him, "you're going to have to get that thing cleaned. We have to call in for supplies. We're gonna need MREs in a few days, and I'm low on Jack. ASE here's going through juice like a mofo, Johnny's not doing too well without his girlie mags, and Jet-Poop needs downers bad. If JG doesn't get his fix of Miss June he's going over the top. And if we don't trank JP I might just have to gut him myself."

"I'll do it," Johnny said, a bit too eagerly.

"No you fucking won't," I said. Jesus. You always had to stay on top of him. He had an unnatural love of things medical.

I flipped the cigarette into the mud. Fuck. Those things'll kill you. I stood up and took a few blasts over the top. My shoes were rotting off my feet and I hadn't changed clothes in a week. But I was fresh as a daisy compared to Jet-Poop. That man loved belly-crawling through the mud. Claims it made him invisible. Jet-Poop had mud all over him: clothes, gun, face, hands, everything. All you could see right now was the whites of his eyes, and when he talked, which was rarely, his mouth. He actually liked this shit: he'd have done this for free. He made most of the men nervous. He was wound up way too tight, and he'd been off his meds for two days now. We could hear the screaming in his brain. It was only a matter of time before he flipped and began attacking us. Nervous energy like his didn't discriminate too effectively between Us and Them.

The rest of us complained about the conditions, but then we always complain. We weren't going anywhere. Where could we go? The pay was good, the food wasn't bad, and we got visits from the USO ladies every month or so. No one got hurt, unless we hurt each other. So long as Halspal stayed at company command he wasn't in any danger of officer-cide, at least not right away; dem bones rarely visited, and when he did visit it was always in a helicopter hovering high enough so we couldn't throw things that could get sucked into the engines.

The truth was, we were born to be here. In this hellhole, everyplace else was a two-week R&R and every girl was Lucky, and the rest of our lives were going to be defined by what we did right here, right now. At some time in the future we'd gather at a decrepit Old Folks Home and tell stories of The Time that AllSeeingEye nearly shot his foot off, or The Time that JohnnyGoodyear injected 10ccs of highly caustic reddish fluid into a hapless new noder.

(Poor blighter never had a chance. The container had biohazard markings and DANGER PURE POETRY prominently stamped all over it. After the injection he twitched violently, but Sim3 put his big muddy boot on the lad's chest and before Johnny had even emptied the syringe the body started disintegrating right in front of us. Johnny's eyes were gleaming; he claimed it was done in the name of science.)

I read Stars and Stripes. I know that if I end my stay with this band of brothers I could head over to Wiki, where there's plenty of action. But I look at their guys: clean, white sleeveless shirts, pocket protectors; and think: I'd rather put a Johnny Special up my ass than fight for Wiki. LiveJournal? Pussies. Slashdot? Pussies.

The action's here, man. This is where I'm staying. Fuckin' A.

chiisuta sez: WRITE ME IN OR DIE.