Poor, poor Yurei. He is injured.
I will not pass out. The world is dilating into a black and white circle. I will not pass out. Sound comes as if through a coffee can. I will not pass out. Pack my box with five-dozen liquor jugs. I will not pass out.
Applying pressure to the point of impact, I manage to stagger forward up the hallway.
I must go to combat.
The North Koreans are out there somewhere. Fucking Kim-Jong Il.
Liquid falls away from my forehead, audibly smacking into the floor to leave inch-wide circles of perfect crimson. It dawns on me that there is someone pulling on my arm, and in response I lash out with the hand that was doing a moderately good job at staunching the leak. The arcing motion slings more blood onto the wall, the cabling in the ceiling and down the front of the Combat Systems Officer. He is less than amused and begins shouting very unimportant things that are a million miles away from anything of which I am aware.
I must go to the Combat Information Center.
I must tell them to launch the bird. The crypto is good. The link is up.
I fixed it again.
I am very lonely.
I am getting very cold here.
Reaching out to the wall for support, I lurch forward and leave a bloody comma on the painted steel.
I have a job to do. Now is not the time for weakness.
Shivering on the couch at 0243 EST all of this floods back in a pounding tsunami of memory. Bathed in the blue-white phosphor glow from the Sony, I sit still drawing breath and slowly tracing the custom depression in my skull provided by the USS Vandegrift. Korea and 1998 spin away slowly, leaving me with the mumbling of Wolf Blitzer. Staring at the television, I notice two things.
Home, still in gray.
It would appear that for the second time, my vote shall not be counted.
I was in the Persian Gulf in 2000. Onboard the USS Shiloh and while supporting sanctions put in place at the end of the First Gulf War, the election passed us like the windblown sand over the waters. The supply officer onboard Shiloh decided that there was not enough food to feed the Air Department night shift, so midrats for the 1900-0700 folks consisted of a pan of peanut butter, a pan of jelly, a pan of rice five hours old, a paper cup and a single plastic spoon. Bring your own drinking container, as we don’t have enough of those either.
Slowly plowing through seconds, (hey what do you want me to do, it was a Strawberry and Chunky night,) I watched in absolute horror as avarice hijacked an election.
Only later did I find out that the vast majority of the military absentee ballots were never counted.
I have gone to great lengths to avoid bringing dishonor to my family, my country and my service. I have offered my hand to the maw, taken an invitation to dance and come home again and again. I have given my soul to these ships, these aircraft, and the oceans over which they ride. I have buried good men for the cause of freedom, and watched like many others as fools martyred still more.
Now I find that these unsolicited gifts, and the even greater sacrifices of the millions of those that wore these uniforms before my time are completely wasted.
People are dying in Iraq. Human beings, like you, are having their heads forcibly removed with machetes.
I want you to savor this imagery for a moment.
Really put yourself in their place.
Ride with me. Reap the whirlwind.
Imagine the cold cut of the blade as it pulls at your skin. The utter disbelief that this is actually happening to you. Metal cuts deep into your larynx, severing the vessels carrying blood to your brain. The whole of the world reeks of copper as blood fills your mouth and showers down from what can never be put right again. Convulsing involuntarily, you manage a gasping choke on a mixture of vomit and life as the world begins to gray out. Trying to cry out one last time, the efforts are lost to fading consciousness and the horrendous white-hot pain of a thousand suns. Mother, father, God, Allah, and Yaweh, all this is muted by sickening gurgles and the continued sawing of the blade.
You are very lonely.
You grow cold in that place.
So Nick Berg, Kenneth Bigley, Paul Johnson, Jack Hensley, Eugene Armstrong, Shosei Koda, and your two dozen fellow victims, the United States of America wishes to speak personally to you in your hour of need.
Fuck you. Because we have voting guides from the Christian Coalition of America telling us where to put our money and our mouths.
Fuck you. Because we are far too worried about those faggots getting married to concern ourselves about a little thing like the end of your lives.
Fuck you. Because we can’t have those carpet bagging liberals running the show, they might meddle with our Faith Based Initiatives.
Fuck you. Because we can’t afford to allow women to make decisions about their own reproductive systems.
Most of all, fuck you because we need to stay the course.