Comments on Trooper
Joined: Nov 11, 2007
Location: UK *up north somewhere*
Total Topics: 63
Total Comments: 195
Posted 10/13/12 - 6:12 PM:
I knew, somehow, that I didn't have a long shelf life. In my line of work you have to be prepared for the worst, that at any moment you could be no more. Yet I did believe I'd entered a retirement of sorts and all the signs were that I now had a loving home with people who cared for me. If only I hadn't given in to curiosity when I saw that gap under the fence and realised a bit of digging would get me out. Curiosity isn't supposed to be the defining characteristic of our species I know, but I think the kind of work I was doing before has made me into a bit of a freak. I am well behaved but also used to a life on the knife edge and all the precarious thrills this brings. Even now - as I'm being led away and can tell by the look in her eye that it is to my doom - there is a certain fascination in it all, I cannot shrink back, quaking legs, the usual whimpers. I will face this event like I have all else so far, as my training has taught me. That is why they named be Trooper.
It was an unforgiving land, far away from here. When they locked me in that room that shakes and lulls with those it is my duty to protect I could tell by the looks on their faces that when the door opened and we went outside again it would be into a different world with new demands. It was very bright outside when the door finally opened and sand got into my nose, the air was dry, I didn't mind the heat at first. I was excited more than anything and my handler had to stop me from jumping around and greeting all the new faces I saw around me. They looked tired and weary - those others - I wanted to wake them up a little, sometimes I seem to be able to do this, but they were different from the people I'd been used to before. There was something impenetrable about them, they gave very little and were locked up in themselves. They were waiting for when it would be their turn to be released.
I was happy patrolling at first. They needed me to smell the things they couldn't, watch out for the bad guys. Back at base they could relax a little but none of the ones I knew well were quite the same as they had been when they were back home. They had started to climb into a place within themselves where nobody could quite reach, soon they were almost impervious to my approaches, they gave the odd stroke but little real affection. I accepted this. I stayed pretty much the same as I had always been; I knew the game had changed but for me, you see, the whole show has always been a game of sorts. I run after the ball without a care for the morrow, such is my nature, sadness arrives when it arrives but I will return to the sun sooner or later.
Soon we started to be battered by the laws of the new land. Chaos was God now, we all had to adjust. I was sniffing around the wheels of a car when Johnson disappeared after a world shake. Suddenly I felt something brush against my back, a mild gust, then there was smoke and my people assumed their special postures, the ones they go into in the hope of not disappearing too. I had felt the blasts before but they had been some distance off. The 'ack, ack' had the same effect - made them pin themselves to the ground or hide behind walls. This time I was confused for a moment and didn't know what to do but soon went into automatic. I saw a strange object sitting not far away - I knew right away it was something unpleasant. I know now it was part of Johnson but at the time and until I saw something like it again I never quite allowed myself to make the connection. I stayed in the dream we all prefer to live in for as long as possible. The thing was, you see, it smelt like food. That was the harshest thing, funnily enough. Part of me wanted to go over, sniff it, lick it, then eat it.
The bad men usually made the 'ack, acks' and the world shakes first. We, too, would 'ack, ack' back, sometimes the flying machines would come and they were angriest of all, the scariest things by far. More world shakes would be heard in the distance; crackling voices would be heard from the little machines the soldiers carry, sometimes they would seem united by a vague sense of triumph - this feeling I sensed was one of the strangest things I perceived during those times.
"We got the fuckers. Jesus, they felt that."
Declarations like this soon became familiar, it was like a chant in the background, a depraved form of prayer.
"Fuck that was close. God damn it that was close. We need to end that motherfucker as quickly as possible, over."
While Johnson disappeared - I knew it was a bad thing to happen, all of them were acting oddly for days and I didn't feel very good either - bad things happened to others soon after but they still stayed around, making noises, shouting, bleeding, throwing up, sometimes just part of their body disapeared instead of the whole thing. There were other groups we had to help if they got into trouble - sometimes there was a lot of trouble. Trouble, it seemed, was our trade. If somebody 'bought it', 'paid the price' they would no longer have to face the trouble. They would be taken away in a machine or just disappear like Johnson and I'd never see them again. For now, at least, they were out of the trouble.
Nobody threw a stick for me in the camp. Sometimes it would have been nice, a bit of a relief from the pattern of endless pursuit. They seemed to find ways to forget the trouble, at least superficially, but I knew they could never properly relax as they were used to doing back home. My handler had pictures of people from home he would look at a lot with a faraway look. They all seemed to get dreamy like that when they weren't out on patrol. I live in the moment, I don't think much of the past, obviously I am somewhat different from them. Considering they live so much in the past very little was actually said about it. Occasionally references were made to people back home but they were mere snatches of conversation - these pack animals form curious groups where each always seems eternally alone. I found it a consolation that my memory was weak and sense of the present so strong. This depth of reminiscence seems to be a kind of torture from which they can only momentarily escape.
So we moved around that strange country with all its heat and sand never arriving at a destination. Around and around we went, 'ack acking', screaming and shouting, sometimes my group walked extremely slowly as if the Gods themselves were watching and they were puppets afraid of what move the higher-ups were about to make. I, you see, am an impetuous creature and little understand caution. Yet caution, it seems, was mostly the game over there. Luckily my handler had me by the lead at such times so I wouldn't go dashing off, causing more trouble - that terrible world change that was always gyrating into view, the blank moment without language when everything tipped toward the future with a harsh and immediate certainty. I usually felt empty and could seldom muster a yelp at such times. When it came nobody was thinking anymore.We were a many limbed organism groping toward a horizon when probabilities of survival could again be plotted. In the moment a dreadful equality came into being, there was no longer a past or future and we danced a strange if not ludicrous dance to music without tone or rhythm.
I am, perhaps, a dull creature. I do not pretend to understand the life I have led except to know I have always been led. Often, I am looking at the ground, sniffing, examining with little mind, shifting from one perception to another in what might be described as an automatic fashion. My handler was Morrison and my affection for him was only marginally greater than for the others in our group. He spent a little more time glancing into my dull eyes looking for meaning, his strokes were more thorough, his words more loaded with emotion. When he was taken away after an extended period of 'ack acking' all cut up and growling and moaning I didn't, I'm afraid to say, feel much more than when similar events took hold of others I knew. I knew we were now separated, probably forever, and he had already forgotten about me.
I run around, if they let me, but mostly over there it was a sensible, measured tread. To the others every step they took seemed to matter and whether they were taken away all broken up and bleeding, whether they were merely scraped and scarred by the 'ack ack' and would be able to face another day of it, whether they disappeared - all this was everything out there for them. Well, not for me. I liked to feel the sun on my body sometimes even though it could get uncomfortable and they would forget to give me water. I disliked the dryness everywhere but there were always new smells, new sights, things were always happening - indeed, at such a pace that it was hard for such a predictable, blind creature as I to keep up. When Morrison was taken away I figured their attitude would change toward me and I was right.
Soon I was back in the room that shakes and lulls and knew it wouldn't be long before I was back home. I had been looked after by my handler since I was very young and was unsure what arrangements would be made for me. The doors opened and we all walked out into a world where there would be less uncertainty and many familiar smells and sights. I saw people around being hugged by the groups they had separated from when they had left for the other land. I don't often get lonely but watching them all without my handler beside me I did feel rather sad. Soon I was taken back to the place where I had lived before where I have my own space; I felt pretty certain by now that Morrison was gone forever and he wasn't going to come and visit me. That first night back in the barracks I dreamt of all the things I'd seen - this is a rare thing for our species. When I awoke I had a strange feeling of incomprehension. I do not demand to understand much.Yet those hectic days were now weighing on me a little and for the first time I started to feel something that might be called distrust.
Yet they found somewhere for me to go and I was relieved when I jumped from the van and saw a new group who clearly thought of me as one of them. They had a fine house with big garden and inside it was warm and there was always plenty of food. There were children there who paid more attention to me than my master ever did and there were new kinds of game. Sometimes, like in my dreams, I saw that other land again on the box in the corner towards which all of them directed their gazes so often. It felt strange to be looking back at that world from my pleasant new abode; sometimes the kids would pat me and push my head toward the box when the visions came on. Even I knew that those young one's couldn't conceive of what it was really like out there.
One day I was taken out in the machine to a place that was a lot like the barracks where I had spent much of my earlier life. The kids had come with me along with my new handlers, they were very excited as were most of the people I encountered there. I was led out in front of bright lights to a place that looked a little like where we sit and watch the box but here there were hundreds of people sat watching me, the kids, my handlers and a man who seemed to be very important. I do not really understand what they say but on this occasion it seemed so important that I remembered the bits that seemed significant. Now they still confuse me when I think about them.
"Trooper is a very special dog isn't he?"
"Yes. There are a lot of soldiers alive today because of him."
"Sergeant Morrison, his handler, was killed wasn't he?"
"Yes. We're his family now, and we make sure we give him all the love he deserves."
"That one particular day - the same day Sergeant Morrison was gravely injured - Trooper alerted the rest of his company to a fighter who was about to trigger an explosion.."
"More than that, he pulled the man to the ground and prevented him from pressing the button. Up to fifty men have Trooper to thank that they are alive today."
So much fuss and noise was made; it was almost as hot as that other land beneath those lights. I still do not understand very well. I think I played their game well and they were happy with me. I don't think the people that were excited that day would like to go to that other land and play the game that we were playing but they still seemed very pleased that I, at least, played it so well.
Like I said, I think I have been made into a bit of a freak. We do not usually have a reputation for curiosity but that hole beneath the fence that I dug into looked so good and the unknown that lay beyond it seemed so tempting. I knew I had it good but I couldn't stop myself, I was driven by an unstoppable force. It felt very good to be running the streets and once I got going there was no turning back. Now, of course, I regret digging down but I still think I would have done the same thing if I had my chance over again. After a few days of eating scraps from bins, sleeping rough and fighting with the unhappy others I found roaming a van pulled up and I was forced into the back.
I thought I was special and nothing could touch me but what's new? After a couple of days alone in a room like I had - so long ago it seemed - back in the barracks listening to the cries of my kind all around the door was opened and I looked up and saw that look in her eye. Now I sit, well behaved as always, looking up at her as she leans toward me looking as sad as I've ever seen one of them look. She pushes the thing into my fur and there is a sting and now I feel myself drifting toward sleep. They didn't want me anymore, they have no need of me now. Yet I played the game so well. It doesn't seem very fair.
Joined: Apr 16, 2005
Location: San Francisco
Total Topics: 425
Total Comments: 4672
Posted 01/06/13 - 4:19 PM:
Hi Nexus, these 3 that you've most recently posted (Trooper, In the Gentleman's Arms, and Back) are not my favorites of yours but I'll offer some feedback nonetheless.
In this one, I feel like you did well capturing the personality and voice of the narrator, he has a very "soldier-ly" tone. I'm not too familiar with weaponry and what kind of arms would make the sound "ack ack", so that being the case, I had a hard time establishing what time period the story is taking place, whether past, present or future. I think ultimately it doesn't really matter too much but I found it a minor distraction, maybe it's merely a point of ignorance on my part.
Joined: Sep 15, 2011
Total Topics: 41
Total Comments: 982
Posted 02/21/13 - 6:18 PM:
This one is difficult for anyone who has owned a dog. I started, and realizing how long it was I skipped to the last paragraph. I have only owned one dog that was put to sleep, and she was very old and had some serious problems, the vet even commented on how appropriate it was for her. My son had a dog that developed some serious, very expensive, problems late in live, and I can only imagine how dificult that must have been for him. I never watched "Old Yeller", and probably never will, it's just not fair that dogs have so much shorter a life than people do, and then to end it like this is just wrong.