Recognition, p.1
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       Recognition, p.1

           Ray Daley
 
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Recognition
Recognition

  Raymond Daley

  Copyright 5/3/12 by Raymond Daley

  In the military, one of the adages we're taught for guard duty is a simple but true homily.

  "Recognition is the best form of identification".

  Knowing is half the battle. Being able to recognise the signs helps keep yourself and everyone else alive.

  Red eyes. Sensitivity to light. Razor-blade smile.

  All these are what we call "the tells". If we see them, we can tell.

  That you're one of them.

  It's not actual vampirism per se, but it's so close that you wouldn't want to be within arms length. Preferably further, far enough to get several clean shots in.

  Oh yes, they die just like anything else.

  Regular bullets? That'll do nicely.

  Better than American Express, more like Domestos in fact.

  Kills all known vemps, dead.

  When the fall happened, the Armed Forces didn't care how long you'd been out or what branch you'd served with. Even your trade was irrelevant.

  They wanted us for one thing, we could shoot.

  Their simple check-list ran as follows:-

  Can you see? Got two arms? Able to walk? Are you uninfected?

  Anything else didn't matter.

  Gay, straight, bi, lesbian. All the old world labels were no longer important.

  I got my marching orders via email.

  Which I promptly ignored, they could screw themselves as far as I was concerned. I'd been back in the real world for going on sixteen years now and I wasn't about to let them order me about.

  A couple more emails came, they knew I'd received them as they'd set up an auto-receive to tattle on me as soon as I opened them. Eventually they called on the phone, I gave them the "No Hablo Ingles" spiel but they weren't falling for it.

  They laid on the soft shoe routine real thick, Sir this, Mister that. Always addressed by surname only, just the way I remembered it when I'd left after having done my time in '96.

  "Listen pal," I told him, in my best 'screw you' tone of voice "I'm too old to do basic again, I'd never pass the fitness test and my eyes render me medically unfit. I want you to know that Lizzy may still pay your wages, but I've been unemployed a long time.

  And frankly I enjoy being a civilian because I get to use my first name. If you people really want me, you're gonna have to send out an armed Federale to bring me back at gunpoint. Otherwise this civvy is staying a civvy."

  I hung up on him and wasn't at all surprised to receive a white hatted visitor packing heat the following morning. He had all the proper paperwork and I had no choice but if I was going, I was going on my terms.

  "You can come in and wait, I won't bolt, I'm way too old and too busted up to be bothered. I just wanna change into something more comfortable for the journey", he looked at me in my tracksuit bottoms and t-shirt and had no clue what was about to hit him.

  It was still hanging up in my wardrobe and was the only one I had left. I'd purged everything else. I hadn't been expecting to do this again but I'd left the preparations in place - just in case. It still fitted, ditto the leg-wear and footwear.

  I packed a bag with just the barest of essentials, making sure I also had my glasses, my spares and my sunglasses.

  Everything I needed in one bag. First law of travelling, always travel light. Then threw in a few notepads, some pens if I got a story idea and my Kindle and charging leads and plug.

  I gave myself a once over in the mirror and then left my cosy room at home for possibly the last time. My heels clattered as I came down the wooden stairs.

  Whatever the military cop had been expecting, it certainly wasn't this. I smiled my nicest smile at him. "I'm a bloke in a dress, live with it! From what I read a few years back you don't discriminate against my lifestyle choice any more"

  He'd been expecting someone who might run. He sure as hell wasn't expecting a transvestite. "Come on then fella, let's get this crap over with" I said to my armed escort.

  We didn't exchange a single word on the journey back, I wasn't remotely surprised. This guy was old school forces, in his eyes men were men and certainly didn't wear red Lycra dresses, black nylons and black leather knee boots.

  We rolled through the main gate and he pulled up outside the guard room and handed me the check-in sheet. "In there?" I asked. He just nodded and I grabbed my bag, got out and walked over to the check-in window.

  My outfit drew stares from everything human and breathing, regardless of gender. I rang the bell and a tired looking Corporal came to the window.

  He gave me one of those 'What hell are you wearing?' looks and I handed him the sheet the copper had given me in the car. He gave it the once over and punched a few keys on his computer terminal.

  "We've been expecting you for quite a while now. What took you?"

  I had carte blanche. I could screw with this guys head any way I chose but I took a pass, there was no point in purposely making any enemies.

  "Didn't wanna come. They told me my country needed me, I told 'em the need wasn't reciprocal." It was the truth and he could tell by the tone of my voice.

  "Here's a map, that's where you'll live, here's a key and this is the combination to the front door. Drop your gear there and go draw a uniform from Supply, that's there" he pointed out the various locations on the small paper map and handed it to me with the key, he'd written the four digit code in the top right corner.

  He threw me some bedding as an afterthought and I folded it over the bag and clicked my way off to the accommodation block.

  I was turning heads - possibly stomachs in some cases, they might not know me now but my face would be recognised everywhere by the end of the week.

  I was a devil in a red dress, I didn't give a toss what they thought. I was comfortable the way I was and their opinions were theirs to enjoy.

  I found the block easily enough, Gibson Block. All RAF accommodation had stupid names like that, this one being named after Dambusters hero Guy Gibson. It took three tries to get the combination to work, I hadn't done this in a long time. I'd gotten used to using keys again.

  The place seemed okay enough, not a complete doss hole. The room was on the top floor, as far from civilization as humanly possible. I wondered if someone was subtly trying to tell me something.

  I dropped the bag and made the bed quickly. The sun had come out and I drew the curtains to, grabbing my black sunglasses and put them on.

  Back out on the base I was still turning heads in my red frock ensemble. I was about half way to Supply Flight when I heard the shout "Air Force, Halt or I fire" from some distance behind me. I turned around and saw a face-full of rifle pointing business end first at me. That wasn't good.

  I put my hands up, real high, real clear that I wasn't offering any resistance.

  "Just a bloke in a dress, being a transvestite isn't illegal in this mans Air Force any more buddy. Lower the weapon and we can talk, I'm new here and was just going to draw uniform - you buggers press-ganged me back against my will" I was loud enough to make sure he caught my tone of voice, thoroughly unimpressed. This wasn't my first time on the wrong end of a rifle.

  "Remove the sunglasses nice and slow please" he made his intent clear, the rifle stayed pointed right at me.

  I reached up and took off my sunglasses with my right hand, hooking one arm into the neck of my dress. The sun was pretty fierce so I was struggling, photophobia is harsh like that. I had no idea about the nature of the threat the world was facing. If I'd known about the vemps I'd have worn my blue glasses, admittedly they didn't shield as much sun but they'd have stopped me meeting the wrong end of an SA-80.

  His oppo sidled over to me real slow and got close enough to see my eyes. "I need you to smile pleas
e, I need to see your teeth. All of them."

  Heck, it was an odd sounding request but I flashed him a nice toothy grin and he nodded back to the armed guard that I'd been recognised.

  I was a human being.

  "No-one told you what the recall was for then?" asked the armed guard.

  I just shook my head. Threw in a shoulder shrug as well for effect.

  Here I got my education, school of post apocalypse life 101.

  "It was some bio weapon, released by accident from Porton Down" I nodded there, I knew of Porton Down by reputation only. They tested all kinds of nasty crap there, I wasn't surprised to hear some genie had escaped its bottle.

  The armed guard continued "It makes people act like vampires, we call 'em vemps, not real sure of the origin of the name - some kinda curse word from what I was told. They don't like bright light, have red eyes and razor teeth. We saw the sunglasses and were about to drop you. You shoulda been warned in advance, did the guy who brought you here not explain anything?"

  I looked at him, shielding my eyes from the glaring sun with one hand. I motioned to my outfit with the other, "Mate, he was a copper. If you'd had to drive this several hundred miles would you have talked to it?"

  I deliberately avoided
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