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June 21, 2006
A Story, Bit by Bit
Hellbender: Part 5 - Debrief
Posted by Frank J. at 03:28 PM | View blog reactions | Comments (11)



* * * *

While waiting for backup, Doug did his best to make sure the excess peanut butter and jelly sandwiches he and Bryce had didn't go to waste. Both Lulu and Charlene said they weren't hungry, and Doug couldn't blame them, as the battlefield was now filled with odd smells, none of them pleasant.

When someone did come, it was just one troop transport to fly them back to base. Charlene questioned this, and they were told the General would explain. At base, they were marched straight to his office.

General Daniels didn't look in the best of shape. His eyes were bloodshot, his face was a couple days unshaven, and he was probably drunk - or was going to be soon from how he was constantly pouring himself more whiskey. He took a swig from his glass and then looked up from his desk at the four in front of him. "Oh yeah, you guys."

Doug was still standing at attention along with Lulu and Charlene, but Bryce was leaning casually against a wall. "I was expressing concern about how, when we left the battlefield, there were no new forces to relieve us," Charlene said.

The General took another drink. "Yeah... well, to be honest, I didn't prepare for the contingency that we'd actually win."

Doug, as usual, was confused, so he looked at Charlene. She appeared surprised for a moment, but regained herself to her neutral expression as she addressed the General. "I don't understand."

"It's a numbers thing, Murphy." The General finished off his glass and poured another. "Considering what you all went through, I guess the least I can do is explain the decision making behind this mission. The higher-ups like to keep tabs on a number of different stats. They noted that, while all parts of the military are now 50/50 gender-wise, most of the casualties are men, and that perhaps showed some sort of sexism in women's role in our fine military. I was told to fix that." He chuckled. "And, since I can't bring men back to life, my only option was to get women killed to even up the ratio. Thus I made a whole squadron of you ladies and sent you on a suicide mission. The problem was I accidentally put you on it, Murphy, which was an oversight on my part... in my defense, though, I've been drunk the past few days."

Doug tried unsuccessfully to process all that and looked at the others. Charlene could not contain her shock this time. Lulu appeared mortified. Bryce was checking the cleanliness of his nails. Then a thought occurred to Doug. "So why were Bryce and I included in this?"

"I just don't like you two and was thinking, 'Well, as long as I'm killing people off...'" He laughed and took another drink. "Anyway, you all actually winning this battle has put some egg on my face, but that's not your fault. I'll try and get you guys some medals, but until then, I got you some gift certificates for the mall." The General stood up and handed each of them an envelope. "I award you these for your great valor in serving the divine Empress Proserpine yadda yadda yadda." The General plopped back into his seat and poured whiskey into a couple more glasses. He sipped at one for a bit while the others stared blankly at their gift certificates - except for Bryce, who quickly pocketed his after checking its value. After a few seconds of silence, the General looked up at the four again. "Still here? You all standing there is really starting to annoy me. Either leave, snap and kill me, or have a glass of whiskey."

Doug felt like getting out of there. Charlene appeared ready to cry. Lulu was just shaking and seemed to be mumbling something. Bryce, on the other hand, stepped forward. "Guess I'll have some whiskey, then." He picked up a glass. "Out of curiosity, how did you pick those women to die? Did you base it on competency or attractiveness?"

"I wussed out of picking anyone and had a list randomly generated... except for adding you and that dummy who's always following you around." The General motioned to Doug.

"Hmm." Bryce took a sip and instantly had a look of disgust. "This whiskey is horrid."

The General took a big drink. "By the time you get to my rank, you get used to it."

Charlene suddenly bolted out of the room. Doug started to go after her but realized he had no idea what to say to her. The General slumped down into his chair. "Hell, I was sure she'd kill me. Now I have to make plans for the evening." He finished his glass. "I'll never understand women."


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