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Friday, November 1, 2013

The Black Ring: Prologue, Part 3

Julie's voice hit his ears first playing a sour note in his noggin, “Bryson, please speak to me, we really need to talk.”
No. The word popped into his head, but never issued from his lips.
“Come on, buddy, it's not what you think,” came Ian's voice through the window.
I'm sorry, the dagger in my back will not allow me to comply.
“We're not going to give up until you come out and talk to us,” Julie reported.
Give up trying to talk to me, or give up humping each others brains out.
 “Will you please just come out and talk to us?” Ian pleaded.
Nevermore, quoth the raven.
They issued a few more pleas, but with pillows over ears, Bryson refused to hear them. Not only that, but he seemed to have fallen asleep during their barrage of pleas, after all heartbreak can take a lot out of a man. In his twisted dreams toy soldiers blasted the hell out of invisible aliens, cheating girlfriends, and conniving best friends. When he woke up three hours later to the DVD menu for Predator he knew what he would do: join the military.
Of course, it wouldn't be that easy, for a freshly graduated former high school student he was grossly out of shape. Besides his short stint in sports, what little physical education he had to take during high school he never took seriously. So to make boot camp easier he started getting up in the mornings to either walk, run, or bike. It was the only time he'd leave the house, and he made sure to do as early as possible to keep from running into either of them which is how he started referring to Ian and Julie a few days after the incident.
During the day he remained in his room except to eat and use the bathroom. His parents wondered what was up with him, but he refused to answer any questions, after all, he knew they would just think he was overreacting and that this was just a phase. While he was in his room he watched movies and researched the military on the net to determine what field would be the best for him. The Air Force would be easy, but it would be too easy for a guy who wanted to kick his life into high gear, and he didn't want to go into the Navy because he knew he didn't want to ever be referred to as “Seamen.” The Army was a viable choice, but most people went into the Army, it was the biggest branch of the military after all. He wanted to kick his life into high gear and become a badass, so the only choice was the Marine Corp.
For a month straight he kept up his routine, and they kept their routine as well. Everyday like clockwork Bryson's mother would come to his door telling him that Ian and Julie wanted to talk to him, and everyday he would tell his mom that didn't want to speak to them. Everyday following this routine they would appear at his window pleading to speak to him, and he would remain as quiet as a church mouse until they left. By the end of that month since the incident he had steeled himself against the attack so that he was able to keep his functionality, and even would routinely do situps or pushups as they shouted through the window.
When that month was up he knew his next course of action. After he finished with his run that morning he ran a little further down to the Marine recruiter's office. When he walked into the door of the recruiting office he was nearly blown back out by the excellence that exuded from the office. Marine Corp decor littered the walls, as well as motivational posters that weren't cheesy, but instead they were badass, and he never thought that was possible. The recruiter behind the desk made him think of the Spartans of old, he exuded a confidence that didn't feel like it derived from an ego in the least bit. At the same time Bryson felt both at home and proud that he made the right decision and slightly intimidated by this gladiator sitting behind his desk.
He proceeded to step in before the recruiter and made no bones about what he wanted, he wanted to join up and ship out as soon as was humanly possible. The recruiter smiled and told him that there was an Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery test available today, or he could schedule one for next week if he wanted to study. When he said today, the recruiter gave him a look of incredulity and told him testing starts in an hour. The recruiter reached into a drawer on the desk that stood between them, and pulled out a book and handed it to Bryson, “I still recommend you give this a once over before the test starts.”
Bryson took the book and sat down in a chair across the room and began to look through the book, but wasn't really taking much in. For one thing the intimidation of the warrior sitting across the room coupled with the thought that in a few hours his life would probably be changed forever. On top of that the other testers were starting to file into the recruiter's office taking seats next to him. Increasing his nervousness was the fact that a few of them had gone to school with him, but luckily he didn't know any of them from closer than a distance.
The hour passed fitfully slow, and then the recruiter called them all into the back room where they were to all take the computer test together. After they finished the preliminaries, Bryson felt at ease once he started taking the actual test. He scored high on the SAT and the ACT, he knew he'd ace an aptitude test to enter the military. He was the first finished, and when the score was tabulated by the computer he had scored an overall score of 77, allowing him his pick of any job he wanted in the military. He already knew he was going to pick Intelligence, but he still had another obstacle to overcome before he could say he was ready for boot: Medical Expenditure Panel Survey or MEPS. He had to pass the physical to get into the military first.

Thankfully, he chose the day that he did, MEPS was taking place the next day with a battery of forms to sign and military career counseling going on that night. The recruiter handed each of the testers pamphlets and forms to review, and told them that while they were at MEPS, since the office was over an hour away, they would each be getting their own hotel rooms to stay overnight rather than having to drive back to their residences. He told them to review the paperwork they just received and they would be leaving shortly.

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