I’m not a brave man. That much I’ll admit, not brave at all. That doesn’t necessarily mean I don’t have a penchant for violence, a flair I suppose you might call it if you happened to think violence was something that should be reinforced with positive language. In any case, those are two important things to remember where I’m concerned, I like violence and I’m a coward. So when I tell you that I am currently lying on my side in a few inches of muddy water-sludge and hiding behind a large toppled tree trunk as a group of men fire guns at me, you can imagine what sort of a conflicted mind set I am in.
The water had been seeping through my protective suit for a while now, and had recently started the invasion of the normal clothes underneath. I'd hurled myself behind the tree when the shooting started; somehow the mud had seemed more preferable to getting shot. I looked around me, eager to find a way out of this mess, I saw the man who had been with me when the first shots rang out. I didn’t know his name, but he was clutching at his chest as he fumbled at where he was hit, getting red all over his hands. He screamed a lot.
I couldn’t help but think he was being a bit melodramatic.
A few meters behind me I saw the rest of my squad crouching feebly behind some barricades. I heard a commanding voice shouting a mix between encouragement and vicious insults, which I recognized as Captain Kickass, my commanding officer. The main reason I was so far ahead of the squad was so I could get a bit of peace and quiet away from him; in retrospect this was one of the dumber decisions I’ve made. Though not the dumbest by far.
After a particularly loud yell from behind the barricade I saw a kid run out from cover, and on closer inspection it was apparent that he had been pushed. He was immediately hailed with gunfire and fell to the floor writhing and screaming, he couldn’t have been more than fourteen. A few seconds later Captain Kickass himself emerged from behind the barricade, he fired a few successful shots at the enemy (I knew they were successful because of the screaming), paused to yell an insult at the fourteen year old who was lying on the ground, and then managed to fling himself down right next to me.
“How’re you doin’, Private?” Kick asked
The muddy water was now threatening to reach my genitals; I flipped over onto my back and sacrificed my ass to the water to preserve the more important assets.
“Can’t say I can’t complain” I replied, I saw Captain Kickass raise an eyebrow disapprovingly through the plastic on his facemask. Actually now that I mention it, everything I’ve described so far has been seen through my own facemask, did I mention I’m wearing a helmet and facemask? Because I am. I knew what the eyebrow was for, however, and added with more than a hint of annoyance “Sir.”
I should note at this point that Captain Kickass is not his real name, his real name is Thomas.
“Private Pussy!” Kickass yelled, and for the record that’s not my name either. “I order you to advance on the enemy right now!”
I looked up and saw that our position was still under heavy fire, I did a quick calculation in my head as to how likely I was to get shot, taking into account variables such as ‘I am going to get shot if I stand up’ and ‘Captain Kickass can suck my dick’. My response was a reasonable and diplomatic “Nah, fuck off.”
Captain Kickass was about to retort when we saw an enemy soldier running past our line on the far side of the forest, he circled around to our barricade and started shouting at everyone behind it. It was one gun against about ten guns, and unsurprisingly all ten guns on my side promptly put their hands up and surrendered.
“Are you fucking-” Kickass started, before realizing that I was the only one who could hear him and raising his voice accordingly “ARE YOU FUCKING KIDDING ME!?”
He leapt up and with a battle roar charged towards the enemy soldier, firing wildly and hitting just about everyone including our own soldiers. They acted accordingly by clutching at their wounds, fleeing, or fleeing while clutching at their wounds. Kickass took cover behind the now vacant barricade and yelled something inspiring at me about dying a coward or living as a man.
Don’t ask me how but this inspirational speech totally worked, I saw Kickass break cover for the third time and sprint towards the enemy lines and yelling madly. I did the same, firing my gun and trying to ignore the fact that it probably looks like I’ve shit my pants; if I had to estimate how many of my shots went wild I would say all of them. After a few steps I slipped on a particularly slippery piece of mud, I noticed that the corner of a jagged tree stump was very close to my face all of a sudden.
My facemask hit the stump and the plastic broke, it didn’t shatter like glass or anything, it just kind of folded and then peeled off. At this point I wasn’t exactly at my best, I stumbled to my feet and took another couple of steps before I was shot in the face. My head snapped back and I felt myself falling backwards, I found myself feeling the unique sensation of familiarity with a tree stump as the back of my head crashed into it.
My name is Joseph Maner, and that was the last time I ever went paintballing.