“Will you do it?” asked Jimmy Marzan.
“Do what? Shoot Americans?” asked Michael Rollins as he twirled his Osiris Eye ring around his middle finger.
Their unit had just received the situation report and rules of engagement which were little changed from what they were accustomed to back in Shariastan. Their platoon was en route to a developing situation involving a riot in a south Chicago ghetto. The rioters had amassed and were turning over cars, smashing out windows, and setting fires as well as being generally un-compliant with police orders.
The platoon’s orders were that rioters who did not disperse were to be given first a bullhorn warning, then tear gas, then a high intensity sound blast and finally warning shots. After that, the appropriate level of response was left to the discretion of the lieutenant who was a smarmy little dweeb just out of OCS. There was no other objective other than to restore order. If they were fired upon, they were permitted to return in kind… after HQ approval, of course.
“Yeah… I mean shoot Americans,” Marzan clarified.
“I guess I’m not really too worried about it,” Rollins answered, dryly. “I’m a soldier. Orders are orders.”
Marzan wasn’t surprised by Rollin’s candor. He had known him for eighteen months and Marzan probably knew more about what Rollins was going to do than Rollins himself. In truth, Rollins didn’t bother to think much at all about what he was doing. He operated reflexively, by muscle memory. He had a well-documented record of complete moral and intellectual detachment. If there was an order, Rollin’s would execute it without question. Bulldoze a hovel? Done. Lob a hand grenade into a courtyard? Done. Fire on a carload of Hajis that ran a checkpoint? Done. No questions. No hesitation. He was an automaton. He performed his soldierly duties as if they were a video game. There was never any remorse or second guessing or empathy. He was, in many ways, an excellent soldier… in the eyes of the established order, anyway.
I don’t think I can do it, Marzan thought to himself silently, trying not to reveal his doubt. He forced his face into a deadpan expression to hide any hint of consternation. He was not mentally hard like Rollins. His conscience frequently haunted him and he hated himself for it. He constantly had to use the ‘remember the dead buddies’ technique on himself. It was a weakness. He was never comfortable bullying and intimidating the indigenous peoples of the countries he was stationed in. Despite their small stature, brown skin, and annoying, indecipherable babbling that they called a language, he could never fully dehumanize them.
Their little brown eyes would cut through his coat of mental armor. He’d experience their terror, grief, fear, submission, hatred… as it was all transferred into him by their look.
Rollins had a mental firewall that deflected those sorts of things. He saw only deception in their shifty, beady-eyed glances. Everything else, all that touchy-feely bullshit was blown off like so much chaff. To him, all Hajis were just liars shining him on. And just as soon as his back was turned, they were skipping back to their hideouts to finish improvising their explosive devices.
“So you really don’t have a problem with it,” Marzan asked, knowing in advance what the answer would be.
“Hey look, we’re giving them plenty of warnings. If they don’t want to get themselves dead then they should do what their told. It’s pretty simple. Don’t be a dumbass. Respect my authori-tah.”
Marzan wondered why Rollins didn’t return the question. Was Rollins really that self-absorbed? He wondered. Or does he sense that I’m uneasy about it and he’s just letting me off the hook. No way. He’s definitely that self-absorbed, he concluded.
Their Humvee stopped.
The night was illuminated by rippling gold dancing on the un-smashed window glass, undoubtedly reflecting fires emanating from the numerous store fronts that had been set ablaze around the corner and down the street. The power was cut off intentionally to give the Domestic Security Force (or DSF), which was the new name for Marzan’s unit, a technological advantage. The U.S. military loves to fight at night because the third world guerillas they engage usually can’t see in the dark.
The troops dislodged themselves from their Humvees, huddled for a moment to receive last minute instructions and activate their night vision goggles, than began their stealthy maneuver into the darkness with the Humvees creeping along behind. Their viewfinders pictured green silhouettes scrambling between alleyways, aimlessly hurling bricks and Molotov “coke”-tails (which were coke bottles, filled with siphoned gas and ignited with a tube sock fuse).
“Dumbasses,” Rollins thought as he watched them dance about like drunken idiots in the darkness, oblivious to the laser sites that were marking them. The little brown people overseas would never expose themselves as stupidly as this, he thought as he moved his laser dot from dumbass to dumbass. The Hajis learned quickly that the night provides no cover against American military.
The soldiers progressed slowly, deliberately, knees bent, M4s aimed, targets acquired and reacquired. They proceeded around a corner and a block down the street, past the Carniceria, past the prepaid Cell Phone store that serviced the neighborhood drug dealers, up to the Checks Cashed façade which was at the last corner. The golden din of firelight danced on the asphalt ahead. Marzan could hear the smashing of glass and the primordial, devious laughter of an insanity-fueled mob.
What was their problem? Marzan asked himself.
The proles were, of course, angry about prices. They were angry about shortages. They were angry that their welfare checks were delayed. They were angry about being hungry. They were angry that mass transit had stopped servicing their area. They felt trapped without it. They had been lied to. They had never known an instant in their life where some government bureaucrat wasn’t telling them what to do, where to go, or giving them the financial wherewithal to do it. Now their government benefactors were pulling away, disconnecting from them, cutting them off. Despair and panic had set in.
Terrified and not knowing what to do, they gathered and protested during the daylight hours. The cops soon rode in— chubby, blue-polyester vials of mustachioed nitroglycerine. Their nerves were already worn thin by the twenty four hour shifts and being asked to do many exceptionally dangerous things that they did not sign on to do.
Someone hurled a brick that careened off a cruiser windshield. The cops drew their pistols. Most of the proles scattered but the angriest— the unattached, unemployed, unencumbered young men remained. They hurled taunts at the cops. More rocks were thrown. A cop was hit in the chest with half a cinderblock. Gunfire! No one other than the actual shooter knows who fired first. The cops returned fire. Screams. A wild commotion of young men started running this way and that. More shots. Someone was firing an AR15. More screams.
Outnumbered 100 to 1, the cops retreated back into their cruisers. The mob slowly enclosed them. Fearing a rout, the cops left. A Pyrrhic victory-riot ensued.
Marzan was the first to peek around the corner at rioters. The mob was much bigger than he had envisioned. There were hundreds. The squads took their positions. A Humvee pulled into the street and with an enormous bullhorn affixed to its roof it addressed the crowd.
“You are hereby ordered to disperse!”
Rollins laughed as he sited in one of the dumbasses— as he was now accustomed to calling them— some fifty yards off.
“These idiots got no idea what ‘hereby’ means…” Rollins exclaimed. He actually had no idea what ‘hereby’ meant either other than to add emphasis to “get the hell out of here before the U.S. Army smokes your ass”.
Some rioters spotted the soldiers with their M4s. The firelight flickered in the black, bulletproof windows of the Humvees in a surreal omen. Some of the rioters dispersed sensing something wicked about to happen.
The sight of cops might be cause for some concern but cops, although locally despised, were local scoundrels who lived locally and had to answer to locals for what they did. This time, the proles were staring into the ranks of mercenaries. These soldiers were from faraway places like Orange County and Savannah and Houston. They might as well have been foreign invaders from China. They had no connection or affiliation to that south Chicago neighborhood.
The soldiers did, in fact, feel that this neighborhood was just another foreign battlefield— as if it had been chiseled out of a Shariastan desert and plopped right down into some the south side of Chicago. It was unreal to both sides.
The rioters that did not flee held their fragile concept of being ‘American’ before them. They cradled the abstract notion, contemplating it, trying to decide if it was palpable and real or just some sort of vaporous illusory nonsense drilled into their brains by public school propagandists.
The tear gas lobbed in.
Fearlessly, some rioters grabbed the smoking canisters and tossed them back. The big show of authoritarian force is always just that, a show. There would be some back and forth, the mob would blow off a little steam, then the storm troopers would march in and methodically disperse the crowd. That’s the way it always works during riots.
The sound blaster siren went off.
It wailed so loud that it made teeth chatter. A few brittle windows crumbled under the pulsating scream of noise. The rioters scattered into the alley ways and behind burned out cars to shield their ears.
Warning shots were fired.
It was at that moment that the Chicago rioter’s remaining notions of being ‘American’ completely dissolved. America was now just some far away gang of white politicians sending the Army into their black neighborhood. Only their homes meant anything to them, now. They knew then that there wasn’t going to be any methodical, non-lethal dispersal.
AR15 gunfire came from a window somewhere above.
“Smoke ‘em!” came the order from the green lieutenant through the earpiece radios of the soldiers… after HQ approval, of course.
The Domestic Security Force opened fire in short bursts. Muzzle flash… ricochet… beelike zips of bullets slicing the nearby air… dull clangs of aluminum automobile hull being punctured by 5.56x45mm rounds.
Rollins squeezed gently. His ‘dumbass’ did a full cartwheel in the air before landing on his face, instantly dead, dying in no more special a manner than any other of the several dozen little brown people he had already smoked.
After ten more seconds— which seemed like forty five minutes to the outmatched, outgunned and terrified partisans— the volley abruptly ended.
No return fire.
No groans from the wounded.
No car alarms wailing.
Just the sound of the flames baking the stale Chicago night.
The platoon moved forward to check out their handy work, this time advancing behind the cover of their Humvees. Rollins came upon his ‘dumbass’. He was maybe seventeen, just some skinny kid. The energy of the bullet had knocked the high tops clean off his feet. Funny how that odd stuff happens sometimes, Rollins thought. The kid wore a stained Bulls jersey.
Chapter 10 Chapter 12
Indivisible can be purchased here from Amazon: