Monday- November 11, 2013. Veteran’s Day
Rynal Grant woke up with a smile on his face and a slight kink in his back. He stretched it out, yawned then lay back upon his pillow. Then he became serious and recited a prayer and thanked his Lord and Savior Jesus Christ for allowing him to see yet another birthday. He acknowledged that tomorrow isn’t promised but was grateful for what he had been given, even though he felt himself un-worthy. He ended his prayer, got up, showered, dressed, and then made his way to Starbucks. This was his tradition for the past few years, to celebrate his birthday with a nice hot cup of Joe from his favorite coffee place. He just knew that this would be a birthday/Veteran’s Day he’d not soon forget.
At Starbucks he got his coffee and sat down in a comfortable chair. The soft earth toned chair matched the motif that is Starbuck’s signature. He enjoyed being around so many different people’s. He saw them each as someone with a different story to tell. He glanced at them then looked away not wanting to appear creepy. It’s just that he found them so interesting. He could write stories about each of them, made up of course, simply for his own amusement. He could do it because he felt some kind of way about them. He hoped that they were all having as wonderful a day as he was having. Then he focused his attention on his Facebook page. So many notifications from his Facebook friends wishing him a happy birthday drew a huge smile. He had been at this all weekend. Sunday was the United States Marine Corps birthday and Monday was his birthday and simultaneously Veteran’s Day. So having served as a U. S. Marine rounded off the excitement and pride he felt. He posted a picture of himself in his dress blues, that uniform that is easily recognizable the world over. Yes. He was very proud of his service. Proud indeed.
He glanced at the old man to his left. He studied the lines on the old man’s face for a minute. He had a scar that was almost indistinguishable from his normal wrinkles. That combined with the milky whiteness of his left eye was enough to tell the tale. This man was a soldier. He guessed a Vietnam Veteran. The man was elderly, but Rynal could tell from looking at him, he would not have wanted to meet this man in his prime. The old man glanced back then casually looked away. Rynal hoped he hadn’t offended him. He continued to while away the time on his Facebook page, jumping back and forth between social networking sites, as his laptop’s battery slowly drained.
Being so immersed within the internet, few people recognized the sky. What began as a clear and sunny day was quickly obscured by dark clouds and lightening. It would later be described as a tornado opening in the middle of the sky. Out of the tornado flew a giant insect looking ship. The back of which opened and produced smaller flying ships and bug eyed soldiers who, once their feet hit the ground, began to fire at everything, anything, and anyone in their way. They made their way from the strip mall’s parking lot over to the Starbucks near Hardy St.
Finally the hipsters inside of the Starbucks noticed what was going on. If that didn’t get their attention the explosions and the couple flying through the glass wall did. Rynal quickly packed up his laptop, phone and made for the door. He ignored everyone and everything else. There was so much chaos going on around him, he panicked. He got outside and made a break for his car. Before he got 20 feet from the front door of the Starbucks he found standing directly in front of him a soldier. The humanoid bug faced creature stood 6’5” tall and he pointing right at Rynal’s chest a strange but recognizable weapon, his rifle.
The people inside Starbucks looked on helplessly. They knew this man was about to die. One man even had his camcorder capturing and streaming to YouTube everything that was happening. They all felt useless and dismayed at the inevitable. To everyone’s surprise, including the alien soldier, Rynal grabbed the barrel of the rifle slap the bottom out of the smug invader’s grip then pulled the trigger. The smug grin left the alien’s face when his guts exploded. He lay on the ground looking as if he could not believe this was happening to him of all creatures. He stared into Rynal’s face. He no longer saw someone to conqueror. He no longer saw a story he was going to share with his buddies when this was all over. He saw the face of a U. S. Marine. A face full of mercy and kindness…just no mercy and kindness for him. This was the last face he saw before wishing he stayed home on his own planet.
Something blossomed within Rynal. After he shot the alien attacker in the face he ran back to the Starbucks tucked and rolled behind a parked Hyundai. To his surprise bumping up against him was that one eyed old man with the scar on his face. He shouted with glee,
“Hooah, Devil Dog! This reminds me of the battle of Hue, during the Tet Offensive! We were taken by surprise, but we had some surprises of our own!!”
Rynal, surprised, asked, “How did you know I was a Marine!?!”
The Scar faced Vet said, “Because you yelled Oorah! While you were killing the bug! Name’s Sargent First Class James Metcalf, but you can call me Scarface!”
Rynal didn’t realize that he said anything when he killed the alien. Later he would be totally surprised and glad for his actions when he watched the video that showed him expertly disarming the alien soldier, yelling “Oorah” then pumping the alien with more than the required amount of rounds to kill, well, any living thing.
Scarface said with an edge of satisfaction, “Let’s send these buggers back where they came from.”
With those words the two Veteran’s reenlisted themselves back into their respective branches of military service and they began to drop the alien invaders within the vicinity. When the aliens were down, the human survivors, veterans and civilian, men and women, young and old took up their weapons and began to fight back giving the alien invaders what for.
Carly Monroe was feeling fidgety. She sat beside her mom quietly watching the program as it progressed. It was a Veteran’s Day program held at the Mississippi Armed Forces Museum. Her grandfather was one of the many veteran’s honored for their bravery during this country’s time of need. As a sophomore at the University of Southern Mississippi she honored her grandfather and her father who was currently a Major in the United States Army serving in Afghanistan, by showing up with the rest of her family for this momentous occasion.
If you asked her, she would have told you exactly how she felt about war. She hated it. She viewed it as the most disgusting action a country can take. The end result is the loss of innocent lives of men, women, and children. The “powers that be” should sit down and talk it out rather than kill each other and put innocent people in danger. She once voiced this to her family. It was after they buried her older brother Caleb, a Marine who died saving a village and his platoon mates back in 2003 in Iraq. She loved her brother so much. He was the most gentle person she knew. She could always count on him to brighten up her day. Even when she knew she was annoying him, he still made time to sit and listen to her.
Her mom would say, "If you two weren’t three years apart, I’d swear you were twins." This was her relationship with her brother.
She thought he’d go off to college and become an actor or some kind of a professional in the entertainment industry, however, when 9/11 occurred, that Monroe patriotism flared up within him and he joined the USMC. Secretly she tried to talk him out of it.
“What are you thinking? Are you trying to make mom, dad and grandpa proud of you? They are! Caleb you don’t need to do this!!”
This drew a small burst of anger from him.
“Yes I do! Carly, we were attacked! Everything I know and love is right here in Kosciusko, MS! If those terrorists think that they can come over here and destroy our way of life, then someone has to stand up to them! Me or someone else like me!
Carly replied, “…but why you!?! Can’t someone else do it!?!”
Caleb, gently grabbing her by her shoulders and looking down into her glistening blue eyes then said to her,
“Because someone has to stand up to the bully. See this scar over my eye? I got it from Richie Jacobs. I was so afraid of him, so were my friends. Dad told me that I should stand up to him. I asked him why me too. He said because someone has to. If not you, then who? One day Richie was pushing my friend Terrell Jones around, calling him the N-Word and what not. Even though he was way bigger than me and Terrell, I still walked over there and stood up for my friend. That day Terrell and me gave ol’ Richie Jacobs a well deserved beating. He hasn’t bothered either of us since. I hate bullies. I WILL stand up to them and give them the whooping they need. It’s like grandpa said, “The only thing necessary for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing.” I refuse to just sit around and do nothing. I’m gonna fight!”
Carly, tears flowing freely, but still persistent asked, “B-But what if you die?”
The words came out shakily. Caleb replied,
“If my sacrifice affords you a day, a week, a year of freedom to live your life without fear, then I think it’s worth it.”
Her thoughts drifted back to the present. Her grandfather had taken center stage and was giving a speech backed by several
vets, one of which was a Tuskegee Airman. They stood covered in their medals offering the best salute men of their age could offer. She caught wind of what was to be her grandfather’s last recorded words.
“…my actions, and the actions of these brave men behind me have afforded this country the freedom they now enjoy, but I fear our time is at an end. It is up to young people like you to fight for the freedom of the generations that are following you. In the words of Edmund Burke, “The only thing necessary for evil to triumph is for good men (and women, he looked at his granddaughter) to do nothing.”
At that instant, her grandfather’s chest exploded into a cloud of red that sprayed everyone in the front row. In the commotion that followed she ignored it all and ran to his aid. She lifted his head and called to him. The aliens subdued and or killed the armed soldiers in the museum. One of their kind, perhaps a Lieutenant approached the podium and began to make clicking sounds that no human understood. He pressed something on his breast then began again. He urged everyone to calm down and assured that this would not take long. He asserted his people’s dominance over the peoples of the earth. He told of how they came from a great distance away in search of another planet to take over and that the primitives here had two choices, to obey and live or resist and die.
Carly recognized several things here. This alien guy, with his condescending talk, was a bully. Bullies need to be taught a lesson. She noticed his side arm and that he did not consider her a threat. She noticed her grandfather had come to for the moment and was mouthing something to her. She leaned in closer to listen.
“You can do something baby. Be strong. You can fig-…”
She thought of her brother Caleb and his words to her. She decided to do something. She didn’t know what exactly, but it would be something for sure. She kissed her now dead grandpa on the forehead, whispered goodbye, and then lay him down. She glanced around taking stock of the room. The aliens were comfortable that there were no other threats so they were somewhat relaxed. She could hear the struggle going on outside, and soon the rear door to the room they were in burst open. A small group of U. S. Army soldiers comprised of both men and women came busting through the doors firing at the aliens.
That was all the distraction she needed. She sprang to her feet, snatched the alien lieutenant’s side arm out of its holster then fired point blank into his back and said into what she believed to be his ear,
“That was for my grandpa and this is for my planet!”
She fired into his back a second time then discarded his limp body to the side. Unconsciously taking on a classic shooter’s stance she fired at the alien soldiers at her left side, dropping every one with an accurately placed head shot as the Army soldiers who unknowingly provided her with the distraction, dropped the rest. The aliens in that room did not stand a chance.
Carly Monroe’s views changed that day. She realized that there is a time when you must fight. She realized that the weak and defenseless needed a Caleb Monroe to come to their rescue. She purposed within herself to be that defender of the weak. Not only would she fight, but she would see to it that these invaders who haphazardly took innocent lives got exactly what they deserved.
…to be continued…