It may be ill-advised, but I’m trying my hand at fiction after a 10+ year hiatus. This is the second installment in the retelling of a wacky dream I had one night. Click here for part 1. The next one will be found here.
He said he was a General. General of what, I wondered. The few uniforms I had seen so far certainly didn’t look much like military uniforms. I had to wonder if it was a self-imposed title or if it actually meant something. I did get the distinct impression that he was supposed to the the guy in charge around here.
“Babe,” I said, “That man said his name was General what?”
“General Havoc,” Naomi answered.
“What a weird name,” I mused, “I mean, what were his parents thinking?” I was tempted to ask if that was a nickname or shortened form of something else, but I usually put my foot in my mouth when I ask that sort of thing. My thoughts were interrupted by another man who had taken the stage and was calling names off a list. We all listened carefully for our names, and then those whose names were called were instructed to file through the double doors to our left. Our names were not called, but we watched as those that were made their way deeper into the facility. I curiously craned my neck to see through the doors, but all I saw was a white-walled hallway with white vinyl flooring. When the group of people made it through the doorway, the doors were closed behind them. After we had waited for some time, I began to get bored and then to get drowsy. I laid down on one of the couches and closed my eyes. Then, I became aware of a presence nearby. I opened my eyes to a squint against the anemic but irritating mercury vapors to see a silhouette standing over me. It took me a second to realize that it was my ‘friend’ from before.
“It’s me, Mike,” he said, “we met earlier.”
“Yeah.” I sat up. I hadn’t realized it but I must have fallen asleep.
“So, I tried to talk to your wife but she didn’t want to talk to me. Is that rude or what? Anyway, are you excited for when they call you?”
I stared at Mike in disbelief, “You seriously just woke me up for that?”
He stammered a little bit, “Well, I mean, I’m not really too excited about it, but a lot of other people act like they are and I just didn’t know, I mean, I was curious if you were too…”
“Look guy,” I said, “I’m tired of this room, and I’m tired of being in the dark both figuratively and literally,” I rolled my eyes across the room as if to punctuate my annoyance at the low light, “I don’t know how they do things where you’re from, but it’s generally considered rude to wake someone from sleep to make small-talk.”
“Geez. Sorry. I didn’t mean to rub you the wrong way,” said Mike ineffectually as he shuffled away.
I laid there on the couch and fumed. There was precisely one other person in this place that I cared anything about, and that was Naomi. I was tired. But, I couldn’t get back to sleep. I sat up and looked around. The crowd had thinned out significantly; it was pretty obvious that I had slept through a couple of roll calls. A few couches down, I saw my wife reading a book. I turned and there was my case of parts at my feet. I stretched and yawned, and picked up the case, standing up to go and join her when I was jarred from behind.
“Oh sorry,” said Mike as my case crashed to the floor, scattering parts across the carpet as the lid sprung open. It was pretty obvious that he hadn’t bumped me on purpose, but was simply clumsy. Still he had hit me hard.
“What is your problem?” I blew up at him, “Would you watch where you are going? You know what? On second thought, just stay away from me. And my wife, and my stuff too!”
“I’m really sorry,” he persisted and crouched, “Here, let me help you.”
“No, I’ve got it. These things have their own little compartments.”
As I gathered the parts off the floor, a different voice asked, “you really don’t get it, do you, Reid?” This was a loud, smoke-seasoned voice. The ‘General.’
I put the last of the parts back into the case and stood up, “Look, Mr. Panic, he was…”
He interrupted me by slapping the case out of my hand. It violently hit the ground, the lid cracked off its hinge and every part inside the case went flying. “That’s General. Havoc.” he corrected.
In all fairness, I was never very good with names.
“You don’t get it do you? What good are those parts to you anymore? What value do the contents of that box have at this point? Would you like to be compensated for them? Do you understand that by the time you’re done here, you won’t even remember what was in that case? Do you want to be part of this program or not, Reid?”
Again, the little voice was telling me to leave. And again, I should have listened. But, you know what they say about curiosity and its effect on the cat. Yes, I wanted to see how far down the rabbit hole went.
“Fine,” I said, “You win. I don’t need those anymore. Do you want me to be more patient with Mike as well? Would that make you happy?”
“Ecstatic,” said Havoc, “That’s what we’ve been waiting for. Are you and Naomi ready to go in to start your training?”
I was flabbergasted, “That’s really all there was to it?”
He then turned to Mike, “good job. I’ll see you at your next briefing.” And then to me, “we needed to assure that you in particular could learn patience and how to let go of anger.”
That one really had me confused, “I have not historically had an anger problem, and what in the world gave you the idea that…”
“Calm. Remember. We have specific plans for you and it is imperative that you learn to go above and beyond what has ever been expected of you. Above and beyond what is ever expected of anyone else actually. In order to proceed with your training, I need you to be like Gandhi.”
I still didn’t trust him, but I found myself complying with his request, “Alright. I’m calm. What kind of training is this anyway? You may have to explain this to me a little further.”
“Understood and agreed,” he said, “I’ll tell you more a little later. Why don’t both of you come with me for now?” he addressed to Naomi and me. I motioned to the mess of parts and broken case on the floor. “Don’t worry about that,” he assured, “I’ll have one of my guys clean up that junk.