Veterans Day, p.1Dante D. Ross / Horror / Science Fiction
Dante D. Ross
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Copyright © 2014 by Dante D. Ross
There was no pension plan. There was no retirement. No goodbye party was thrown. I didn't get a plaque for my excellent work. No pat on the back. I was left for dead four hundred and fifty miles from home in the middle of the Nevada desert. My name was Kendra Hecksford. I was a daughter. I was a sister. I was an aunt. I was a granddaughter.
Now, I am just Hex.
On my 18th birthday I made the decision to become a Marine. It wasn't a hard choice to make. My three older brothers and my dad were Marines. I grew up in this. This wasn't something I needed to do to afford college. I didn't join because I had nothing better to do. I joined because this was all I knew. And I knew it well.
I spent the first 15 years of my life training to kill. Dad taught me everything he knew. My brothers taught me everything he didn't. By the time I was 17 I was a machine. I could take down a man twice my size in 3.4 seconds. When it came time to enlist I ran into the usual critiques that go along with being a woman. I was too small. Too weak. Too emotional. None of these were true.
Growing up I was never known for outburst. If my brothers beat me up I just tried to give as good as I got. If I got into a fight at school I made sure that it was worth the suspension that followed. If my father came home drunk and ready for a battle I was there to make sure he didn't go near my mother.
Any accusation of me being emotional was quickly blown out of the water once I entered boot camp. The guys tried their best to make sure I failed. Attacks during the night. Cat calls. Anything their adolescent minds could think of. They obviously had no idea who I was. I was Kendra. Daughter of Lemont Hecksford. Granddaughter of Bill “Pecos” Hecksford. They couldn't stop me anymore than the Lord himself could. I was going to become a Marine no matter who tried to stop me. Oorah.
Once during basic training a group of guys figured that it would be funny to attack me while I showered. How they sneaked into the female quarters I don't know. But what I do know was that eight men left covered in water, soap, and blood. I decided not to press any charges. Why should I? The ass kicking they got did more to them than any court marshal could. Another time one of the guys felt that the only way he could express his admiration for me was to climb into my bed during the night. They told me that after three operations his penis was once again functional.
After graduation a general called “The Corps” approached me. He looked like a general. Big, White, broad, and stern. He never smiled. He never laughed. He never made a joke. Whatever he said you believed and when he spoke you listened to every word he said as if it were the gospel truth. Ten years later and I still fear the man. He shook hands with my father after they saluted one another. My brothers stood away from him as if they knew to fear him. Mom could not attend my graduation on account of her brain tumor. I saluted “The Corps,” and put my hands to my side.
“I hear you graduated at the top of your class, Pvt. Hecksford,” he said. “Sir, yes, sir!” I replied. “Come with me, Hecksford,” he said as he motioned towards a nearby jeep. I saluted my father
and brothers as we began to walk. “I want you to join me for a drink,” he said. Surely he knew that I was not of legal age to drink. But fear and respect kept me from bringing this fact up. “I have a proposition for you. I will explain my plan to you. If you choose to reject my offer I will act as if we have never met. If you speak to anyone of this conversation and offer I will have you killed. Am I understood?”
“Sir, yes, sir!” I replied.“Good,” he said while lighting a short black cigarette of some sort. “We are gathering the best graduates of military schools from all over the world. They represent every state in the US and every militarized country throughout the world. Only the top five will be chosen for this career. The rest will go through a four-month program erasing any knowledge of the programs existence. Your drill instructor informed me of your proficiency with firearms. Have you ever killed a man, Hecksford?”
“Sir, no, sir!” I replied.
“Don't worry about that,” he said. “If you complete the program you will have hundreds, if not thousands, of the dead haunting you until the day you die.” He took a long drag from his cigarette and exhaled through his nose. “And maybe even afterward. Will you accept my offer?”
“Sir, yes, sir!” I replied. “Good,” he said. “I'd hate to have to kill you.”