"War has existed since man has existed. It is the only thing that drives us, it is the catalyst for all future technologies, it is the only way to forge a state."
Lt. Colonel Paul King took a deep breath. He saw more stars on lapels in the room than in the night sky outside the window. But it wasn't the generals that daunted him. He hadn't been starstruck by a general since he was an enlisted man. What intimidated him was the presence of a brooding, silent, gray-haired civilian in a blue suit in the very front of the room. He had never given a briefing before the president of the United States before.
"You'll forgive me for waxing poetic, gentlemen, but I feel at the crux of history. Technology has redirected the course of wars like nothing else. Gentlemen, the objective for this briefing is to give a practical demonstration of the military's latest technological achievement. Lieutenant?"
King paused momentarily waiting for the appearance of the junior officer. His wide baby blue eyes darted back and forth for a moment towards the door where Daniel Hayes was supposed to enter for his part of the demonstration. Didn't Hayes understand that this was a presidential briefing? What was keeping him? King slicked his bright red hair back, and tried to maintain his composure.
"Lieutenant Hayes...?" King repeated.
A string of whispered profanity wafted into the room and sent a ripple of murmured laughter through all the generals. The president retained his glacial calm, but the sides of his mouth tugged up ever so slightly.
"Down! Down, boy! Down, damn it!"
Hayes finally made his belated entrance, kicking something behind him. There came a yelp and a prolonged whimper from the anteroom.
"Trouble with Omar again, lieutenant?"
"Yes, sir," Hayes said lamely, turning red from embarassment.
Hayes' bull terrier had gotten in the way more than once, but the dog had become the unofficial battalion mascot. Getting rid of Omar would've been high treason to the men of King's battalion. King himself was not as vital to the morale of his battalion as that dog was.
King gestured with mock impatience for Hayes to take his place next to the podium.
"You will notice, gentlemen, that Lieutenant Hayes is out of uniform."
Hayes looked ridiculous but not uncomfortable in a smock made of what appeared to be a lightweight plastic.
"This is something we’ve all been looking forward to for a long time,” King said, “Harder than steel, light as fabric. Take your position, LT.”
Hayes took a few steps away from the podium. Without warning, King produced a .44 magnum revolver and shot Hayes. Even amongst the seasoned military men there was a collective gasp. Hayes was unfazed.
“The only standard projectile that can damage this new armor,” King continued, “Is a direct shotgun blast. Of course, we’re not the only ones developing this right now, China was halfway there before the government collapsed, and the Mexican Empire is actively pursuing it. If this armor is going to come into common use in the next few years, the United States military would do well to begin investing in developing tactical shotguns for our troops. Of course, the use of shotguns in combat is strictly against the Geneva Convention.”
The room was silent. All eyes turned towards the blue suited man in the front of the room.
“I think it’s time to rethink the Geneva Convention,” said the president.
"Manuscripts don't burn"
- Mikhail Bulgakov
Hi, I'm horror and science fiction author Steve Kozeniewski (pronounced: "causin' ooze key.") Welcome to my blog! You can also find me on Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads, and Amazon. You can e-mail me here, join my mailing list here, or request an e-autograph here. Free on this site you can listen to me recite one of my own short works, "The Thing Under the Bed."
Enter your e-mail address in the box below and click "Subscribe" to join Stephen Kozeniewski's Mailing List for Fun and Sexy People. (Why the hell would anyone ever want to join a mailing list?)