Sunday, 14 October 2007

And Bananas for All - Part One


And Bananas for All is a story told in six episodes, posted serially by me, your veteran host, Cheeseburger Brown.

Chapters: 1|2|3|4|5|6

Related reading: Night Flight Mike, The Reaper's Coleslaw

Our tale begins:



1/6

The war, in a word, sucked.

Lieutenant Michael Zhang Cuthbertson craned his head to track a flock of Australian ornithopters as they rose in a chattering pack from the camp's crude airstrip and buzzed out over the Indian Ocean, their wings locking in to glide on the highways of wind beneath the cloud deck. The sun winked off their gun turrets. Like vultures, they circled.

Mike sighed. His ears pounded in unwilling sympathy with the wash of hard, thrashing electric music that routinely blanketed the Allied base: Nine Inch Nails, Towers of London, Cherry Nuk-Nuk, The Apocalyptoid Rebellion. Only in the brief dip between songs did the native tapestry of Madagascar's birds, frogs and monkeys shine through the wall of rock. Mike winced, then adjusted his ear-plugs.

He took another bite of something crumbly and sour whose label claimed it was a field ration. Mike had his doubts.

He sat on a milk-crate. The world around him stank of unwashed bodies, gasoline, marijuana and excrement in roughly equal proportions. The aroma was repellent but familiar, somehow less offensive to him than the sour crumbs rattling around the bottom of his ration envelope whose scent was, to his mind, distinctly fungal.

One of the younger recruits grimaced. He was a skinny Australian kid who didn't look old enough to drive. "I think my ration's gone off," he whined.

"Shut up, virgin!" bellowed the nutritions officer.

"But it's all hairy --"

"I will shoot you. Look into my eyes. Am I joking?"

The nutritions officer stomped off. The young recruit tracked his progress with wide eyes. Mike tapped him on the shoulder. "The first rule of field rations: never look. Just reach in, take a hunk, and put it in your mouth."

"But it's disgusting, mate."

Mike nodded philosophically and pressed another wad between his teeth. "It sure is," he agreed, chewing. "Welcome to the Allied Forces."

Most of the diners didn't speak. It was difficult to discern the men from the women. Everyone wore the same shapeless, mud-stained camouflage fatigues, the same worn boots, the same sun-burned, dazed and dour expressions of people who had anticipated the worst, met it, and resigned themselves to more. Some of them were bandaged. Many were scarred. Nobody smiled.

One man keeled over and started vomiting violently into the mud. The nutritions officer spared him a glance. "Medic!" he called mechanically, then strolled on.

"Uh, sir..." ventured Mike.

"What is it, Cuthbertson?" he snapped.

"That is the medic, sir."

The nutritions officer frowned. "Bloody hell."

The only respite Madagascar offered Mike were his forays into dense woodlands infested with armed and desperate enemies. Both the Axis and Allied lines of material communication had been cut, and neither side was comfortable. Mike was a scout. His job was to ply the forest separating the two stranded camps of soldiers to make sure the Axis wasn't about to launch a raid against the Allies. From either side of a narrow ridge of foothills both camps were bent to the purpose of making sure neither side made use of Antsiranana Bay to gain new supplies. At the mouth of the bay the broken remains of Antsiranana City smoldered, ribbons of smoke torn free by the fierce ocean winds to trail dozens of kilometers north-east toward Arabia.

Despite the danger of his missions Mike enjoyed his time away from camp. He nosed his way cautiously through the brush, prodding aside leaves with the barrel of his Mini-Mitrailleuse, pausing to listen to the hidden animals hoot or chirp or squeal.

He knew the trails well. He himself had stomped them flat. He was supposed to be mindful not to leave trails, but after five weeks making the same rounds through the same tangled, leafy gullies he saw no practical way to avoid it. In fact, he frequently crossed the trails of his Axis counterpart. They were scouting the same no man's land, after all.

The trails converged by a massive old baobab tree.

There was a hollow in the tree, and Mike reached unflinchingly inside and removed a carefully wrapped package of soft, brown bananas and one sad-looking apple. He'd have given anything to know where the Axis camp was getting fresh-like fruit from. The accompanying note said:

Dear pal,
Make eat thise in good health. Dou you think rainey season come early? I smell waters on the winds.
Your friend.
Mike grinned. He gingerly peeled one of the bananas and then scooped out the discoloured pulp with his fingers. He licked them clean, then attacked the apple which he enjoyed thoroughly, worms and all. When he was done he removed a cloth-wrapped package from his backpack and added a folded note before shoving it deep inside the baobab's hollow. His note said:
My friend,
I don't know how your guys are doing malaria-wise, but here is some extra permethrin to use against the mosquitos. I hope the rainy season does come soon because our water tastes awful!
Your pal.
Mike straightened. He took a careful look around, cocked his head to listen, and then proceeded along the trail as he peeled his second limp banana. It fell apart in his fingers but he jammed what he could of the brown, seedy paste into his mouth. He wiped his face on a leaf and then wound his way back toward the Allied camp.

He was just close enough to detect the first strains of rock'n'roll when he became aware of another sound: the hum of aircraft. He blinked as a brace of shadows flashed overhead, blocking the shafts of sunshine streaming down through the forest canopy. The tone of the aircraft engines ramped up in pitch as they accelerated.

Where the devil did the Axis camp get planes?

Mike accelerated, too. He barreled through the last fringes of forest and burst out into the clearing around the camp just in time to see a string of bombs drop from the two Axis fighters. The concussions from the first explosions knocked him off his feet, sending him tumbling backward down into the shallow valley through which he'd just trudged.

He was stunned. His ears were ringing. Bits of smoking debris dropped all around him, tearing holes in the leaves with a series of hisses.

Mike clambered to his feet, checked himself for damage, and then struggled to climb out of the valley again. Beyond the clearing the base was burning, great angry clouds of black smoke billowing upward from half a dozen locations. Sirens were wailing, and people were screaming. Anti-aircraft guns stuttered and barked, bursts of flak peppering the sky.

"Medic!"

A flock of ornithopters swooped in from the coast, engines buzzing and guns blazing. Mike ignored them as he sprinted across the clearing. He tossed his gun aside and dropped to the mud beside the first person he saw, ripping off the bottom of his pant-leg and pressing it against a bloody, black-edged wound. "It's gonna be okay," claimed Mike, looking into the soldier's panicked eyes.

A badly burned arm reached out to him from a pile of what Mike had taken to be inanimate debris. Mike took hold of the proffered glove and squeezed it. "Don't worry!" he shouted. "Help is coming!"

The only response was an anguished gurgle.

Mike flinched as a horrendous bang signalled the destruction of one of the Axis planes, its fuselage crumbling as it tumbled out of the sky. It struck the ground to the west of the Allied camp with an earth-shaking thump. A riot of birds burst out of the forest in alarm, and were seconds later cut down into a mist of disconnected feathers and spatters as they crossed a vector of anti-aircraft ordnance.

Ragged strips of sandgrouse, crested ibis and grey-headed lovebird rained down, smacking Mike's helmet. He covered his face with his arms. The lumps of meat smelled like roast chicken and fireworks. A surreal snow of shredded feathers followed.

Covered in blood and feathers, Mike got to his feet and ran deeper into the camp, dodging to avoid other soldiers as they loomed out of the thick, roiling smoke. Their faces were black with soot, their eyes bulging with horror. He skirted the flaming infirmary and then skidded to a halt as the veil parted and afforded him a momentarily unobstructed view out over the water.

The long grey hull of an Axis aircraft carrier was cutting the waves, moving into Antsiranana Bay, another fighter lifting off from its deck with an air-splitting shriek. The massive vessel was flanked by two smaller warships, their turrets swivelling to train on the Allied camp. "Warships!" screamed Mike, his own voice lost in the din.

Infantry was already pounding across the beach to man the big guns. Mike jogged up to the forward bunker on the ridge overlooking the beach to help three other soldiers lift a fallen timber off the satellite communications gear. They tossed it aside with a grunt and then an American with a cigarette hanging out of his mouth grabbed the microphone. "I need a pulse!" he yelled. "I need a pulse now!"

The warship's turrets flashed. Shells struck the beach with geysers of surf and sand, boot and face, metal and flesh. Mike saw a dozen die in a span of seconds. Allied mortars boomed in response.

Beside Mike, the American hooted as the screen on his lap illuminated with a satellite image of the bay, the Axis ships grey smudges in the surf. The American fixed the crosshairs with a practiced twist of the dials. His thumb twitched over the contact. "We're aligned and ready to fire! Major?"

"The major's dead!"

The American nodded to himself curtly, then dragged on his cigarette. He stabbed the trigger and growled through clenched teeth: "Avada kedavra, motherfuckers."

The air over the bay crackled as a hundred kilometers above the Allied Satellite Network found its mark and engaged. A split second later the aircraft carrier and its flanking warships turned bright red and then exploded, throwing up a ten-meter-high shockwave of salt water that surged away from the epicentre. The shattered remains of the ships and a few metric tonnes of ocean were then boiled away into fumes by a second ignition of the orbital laser-pulse weapon.

The noise was horrendous, a quadruple thunderclap of unholy proportions. The blasts of hot air knocked those standing off their feet, the soldiers on the beach tumbling in sequence like dominos. Mike found himself tangled in a litter of tree branches and torn canvas, his body aching, the breath torn from his lungs.

The echoes died away into a silence more profound than it should have been. The crackling fires were mute.

The men on the beach stood up, threw their arms into the air and appeared to cheer. The surf turned dark with the bodies of a thousand flash-fried fish.

Mike crawled out into the clear again, rubbing his head and wondering where his helmet went. He was startled when someone clapped him on the shoulder. He spun around. The American grinned around his blackened and splayed cigarette stub. He said, "America -- fuck yeah!"

"I can't hear anything," said Mike, gesturing to his ears and shrugging.

"What?"

"What are you saying?"

"What?"

The latrine had exploded. There was broiled crap everywhere. A new infirmary was improvised in the officer's mess hall, partly because it was still relatively intact but mostly because it was the tent furthest away from the potentially infectious poo. It still smelled terrible, though. Mike volunteered there until he could no longer stand, and then he slept in an overturned rain-barrel until he was awakened by a sergeant with an eye-patch who tried to drink him.

"Where's the goddamn water?" asked the startled sergeant.

"I don't know," mumbled Mike, blinking against the morning light. He stumbled into the bushes and peed on a fern. He stepped on something that crackled and looked down to discover that it was a human hand. It wasn't connected to anyone, so Mike just left it there in the underbrush.

There was no rock'n'roll that day.

None the less, Mike was grateful to be sent on patrol. Trudging through the forest was considerably less like a living nightmare than the mop-up efforts at the ravaged base. Birds chirped, monkeys howled. Mike could come within spitting distance of forgetting where he was, or what the weapon slung over his shoulder was for. Simply getting away from the smell of burning was invaluable.

He splashed through a brook and then up the embankment toward his baobab tree, his boots crunching on twigs and dried patties of moss. As he approached the tree he started fishing through his pack for the meagre offering of saltines he planned to stash inside the hollow for his friend.

He stopped short. Flies buzzed.

There was a body beside the baobab tree. It was a young Axis soldier with brown skin. The top of his head had been spread into a wide, chunky spray that glistened in the sunlight as it was crisscrossed by streams of ants. "Oh no," whispered Mike.

Mike's friend was dead. And though Mike had seen a lot of death over the weeks, and then quite a bit more over the past day and night, it was this particular loss that caused his knees to turn to jelly. He dropped to his haunches beside the dead soldier and blubbered. He clutched his hair. He struggled to take a breath deep enough to ease his feeling of suffocation.

He wanted to look into his friend's face, to know what he looked like at last, but he couldn't bear to let his sight stray over the grotesque injury. Instead he tugged forlornly on the soldier's pants. "Oh, my friend..." he sighed, his own body feeling monstrous and heavy and dumb.

Something clicked. Mike looked up sharply.

He was surrounded by a platoon of British soldiers, the oil-streaked muzzles of their SA80 assault rifles trained on Mike's head. "Hands up!" they shouted. Mike put his hands up. "Freeze!" they shouted. Mike froze.

"I'm Allied," he offered feebly. "I'm Canadian."

One of the British toggled his radio. "We have him," he said, cold eyes fixed on Mike. "I repeat: we've captured the traitor."


37 comments:

John said...

I loved the mixture of bird metaphor with military lingo:

"a flock of Australian ornithopters as they rose in a chattering pack from the camp's crude airstrip and buzzed out over the Indian Ocean, their wings locking in to glide on the highways of wind beneath the cloud deck. The sun winked off their gun turrets. Like vultures, they circled."

It took me a second to realize which was the metaphor and which the reality.

Moksha Gren said...

Only in the Burgerverse can we jump from Mr. Miss's creepy dreams straight to a Platoon style jungle war story. Simply wonderful.

I'm curious how Mike gets from "traitor" to "let's name a spaceship after him."

And this is minor...but I found myself wondering...how does an aircraft carrier get close enough for visuals without the satalites or air patrol seeing it's approach?

Cheeseburger Brown said...

Dear John,

Well, either the paragraph works or it's hopelessly muddled -- myself, I like your interpretation.

Dear Moksha,

I expect there was a ploy of distraction involved, only the final stage of which (surprise aerial bombing) apparent to a man in the field like Mike.

Love,
Cheeseburger Brown

Teddy said...

regarding the carrier: war of escalation. we get realtime satellite imagery, they get electronic countermeasures, we get manual control, they'll think up something next. Also, IIRC it's Avada Kedavra, with three A's in the first word. Truly excellent kill-line though, I enjoyed it.

I don't think Mike's gonna die in the end. Reaper's coleslaw is happening almost simultaneously, though, if I'm right.

TRH

CodeWright said...

Mortars are unlikely to be able to reach the carrier. Even a large (120mm) mortar only has a range of a couple thousand yards (meters).

You might want to change "mortars" to "one-five-fives" (the name used to refer to the typical American/Canadian/UKian 155mm long range field artillery).

Mark said...

Rollicking good start!

Like Moksha, I wondered how he's going to turn this thing around and be a hero.

Anonymous said...

Most entertaining work, as usual! The names of the two factions would require some explaining though: while i can see the "Allies" as a no-nonsense name for any joint force military endeavor, i can hardly see someone adopting the name of the world's most famous defeated party. Maybe they're nostalgic, or it's George W's Axis of Evil... Hopefully we'll learn more in the next... month or so? Arrghh! *bites compulsively on fingernails*

Anyway it looks to me like a "rich" vs "poor" war, somewhere between 2015 and 2020. Sky's Event Zero must have already happened.

RDV

Cheeseburger Brown said...

Dear Teddy,

Thanks for the spelling flag. For whatever reason I can't find a spellcheck utility to reliably parse Aramaic. Fixed.

Dear CodeWright,

Thanks very much. My knowledge of military hardware is weak (like my knowledge of tools -- remember Miriam's thumb?), and while everything is Googlable I don't always have the time I'd ideally like to push the research as far as it ought to go. I'll fix that momentarily.

Dear RDV,

I doubt in this case that the enemy forces were consulted. I'm sure they have a very rah-rah! type name for themselves, determined by their own focus-group work. The Allied propaganda machine, however, found it expedient and useful to label them as the Axis Forces as the name had already been well-branded in world wars past.

Out of curiosity: did the Axis in WWII call themselves "the Axis?" I guess I figured they had some cool, bad-ass German name for themselves that hinted at their moral superiority.

Again -- history is Googlable but I'm supposed to be working.

Love,
Cheeseburger Brown

sheik yerbouti said...

I think you one-upped Bruce Willis' John McClane with that line :)

Mike's predicament is worrisome, but unfortunately, I expected this to happen given his behavior. Fortunately we're early enough in the story for something good to come of it yet.

I'm all the more anxious because I know the next chapter is already written, and waits for us on the other side of the weekend...

SaintPeter said...

"It's gonna be okay," claimed Mike, looking into

I found the use of "claimed" rather than "said" to be distracting. There ought to be a better way of indicating his skepticisim using a "said" instead.

Re: Aircraft carriers, etc.
In an era that has space based weapons, the likelyhood of a carrier or any large ship being deployed or even continuing to exist are slim to none. Since we pretty much already have world wide immediate visual satelite coverage, there would be no place for it to hide. We'd just pop them in their harbors before they were ever deployed. Think of Pearl Harbor or the Spanish Armada - the best place to shoot ships is before they can shoot at you.

The ability strike anywhere on the planet immeditatly and with impunity would fundamentally alter the face of war. It would actually explain a infantry based ground war, since it probably wouldn't make sense to shoot your satelite gun at single soldiers (or they may not be effected by it). You would want to distribute your forces so there was no concentration to shoot at. I imagine that smaller/faster would be the name of the game, since the space based weapons could not target them.

Based on the above and current tactical doctrine, I seriously doubt that an Aircraft carrier would ever be within the line of sight of the coastline. I believe they typically sit over the horizion and send in their aircraft. Of course, needs must when the devil drives, so I'm sure there may be some explanation why a ship may do something so foolish. It does make a great visual for the story.

Re: "Mini-Mitrailleuse"
This is an interesting idea. The Mitrilleuse (according to Wikipedia) is a multi-barrel gun, a predecessor to the machine gun. It basically just packed together a bunch of barrels that could be fired togeher or seperatly. The only reason I could imagine anyone making a "mini" one is for a "Metal Storm" type weapon - one where all of the bullets are already in the barrel and are fired off one after the other. Otherwise, the modern machine gun or AK-47 type is a much more likely weapon. Cheap to build, easy to maintain, large rate of fire, and fairly light. It would take a pretty major change in ordanance to alter that equation. A great book on the subject is "AK-47: The Weapon that changed the face of war" by Larry Kahaner. (Sorry for going off on what was essentially a one liner - I read too much military Sci-fi)

All that said -
Heck of a lot of fun and can't wait until next week!

gl. said...

aw, mike! it's good to see you again! though this doesn't sound like it's going to be much fun for you. but i actually laughed out loud at "America -- fuck yeah!"

CodeWright said...

saintpeter:

riffing off your cogent observations of future war, it is also likely that the ornithopter aircraft and axis fighters would be unmanned... and that a carrier itself would carry mostly unmanned assets (excuse me: uninhabited).

CBB might be able to finesse the improbability of a carrier coming close to shore if it wasn't a "real" carrier.

in other words -- if the carrier was, itself, a drone. imagine a small littoral combat drone carrier, tasked to carry UCAVs.

such a suggestion by CBB might not only finesse the immediate presence of the carrier into the story, but it could enhance the "terrifying" aspect of the enemy by making it wholly mechanistic... and thus a suitable high-technology foil for the super space weapons.

Anonymous Boxer said...

I have NO idea how I found this blog..click/click/click.. but it's nice to find one that is actually well written.

Dan said...

CBB,

For the first time, I am a bit unhappy with this one. I have LOVED absolutely everything you have done so far (even Bikes when I had to read with one eye open and a barf bucket close by). I mean I am openly a fanboy. But this one lost me from the start with the bad rations. Any military commander will tell you that food is of the utmost importance. An army runs on it's stomach. If they are eating field rations, I can assure you that even the MREs (Meals Ready to Eat) of today would still be in a fairly similar state 100 years from now as they are today. Even primitive radar would have picked up both the aircraft carrier and the attacking planes. As heroic as I know Mike is, only a STUPID military man would run TOWARDS an attack in progress. He would take cover until the attack was over and then do a BDA (Battle Damage Assessment)and take care of wounded where possible. If you die in the attack, you can't help anyone. You have some wonderful vivid imagery here, but I couldn't get past Mike's sudden retardation and death wish. Especially with his fiance at home.

Sorry,
THE Danimal

Cheeseburger Brown said...

Dear Mark,

For some reason I can quite fathom, I always see (and therefore moderate) your comments late.

Because it happens so often I now do a double-check through the Blogger interface for orphan comments, specifically looking for yours. And lo and behold, again today there you are, somehow hidden in a collapsed tab of my gmail conversation.

At any rate, don't take it as a snub if your comments seem to go unreplied until deeper into the thread than sequence would seem to dictate. It's just some kind of bad voodoo gmail has against comments from you to this blog.

Dear Sheik,

The longer a chapter stays pre-written, the more un-written it becomes. That is, the longer I let them stew on the shelf the more I think of things to add, revisit or delete.

I just can't get ahead, seemingly. But, yes, it can be fairly called mostly written.

Dear SaintPeter,

Your "claim" claim has been noted. Thanks.

In an era that has space based weapons, the likelyhood of a carrier or any large ship being deployed or even continuing to exist are slim to none.

An interesting point. I think that aircraft carriers will continue to exist as long as there is a need for fighters at targets too distant to otherwise secure a line of material communication. Also, let's not overestimate the space-based weapons -- they must not provide omnipotent or infallible coverage, or there wouldn't be a war to fight. If having space-based weapons enabled one faction to eliminate objects on the face of the planet virtually at will, any war would surely be very, very short.

On the other hand, if open conflict were precipitated in part by an arms race one can be assured that technologies for cloaking, telemetry distortion and orbital retaliation would be thoroughly investigated by the enemy. These technologies would be required in order to go about the business of waging warfare, which in large measure is an exercise in moving materials to strategic locations, and, for want of teleportation, such things must be moved in carriers of one form or another.

Why the carrier itself would present itself in the bay is really a matter of the desperation of the situation. Even given the limited information in the passage, we know that both the Allied and Axis forces are blockading ports ringing the Indian Ocean. We know the small Axis and Allied camps on the northern tip of Madagascar are cut off materially, and running low on basic supplies and yet stay in place to keep the bay inaccessible.

So, the bay is strategic. We might surmise that it is proximate to an active theatre of battle, or even more than one. Furthermore, we might guess that vessels at those fronts have their own lines of material communication interrupted or cut, and might therefore be in fairly desperate circumstances themselves. Given this, I think we can imagine a few circumstances where an isolated trio of ships might choose the cover of the bay to launch their offensive -- for example, we don't know who or what may be at their backs.

Maybe it was part of a coordinated but failed operation involving the Axis camp on Madagascar which, instead of successfully attacking the Allied camp to pave the way, were waylaid or defeated en route by the arriving British.

The point is, in a way, that we don't know. We don't know because Mike doesn't know. The big picture isn't always evident on the level of the soldier.

Finally, Mini-Mitrailleuse models like the C9A1 are in current use among the Canadian forces. I figure that since our troops are woefully ill-equipped with outmoded gear today (like equipment from the Korean War), the same is probably true in the future (like light machine guns from 1986). So, Mike's been set up with a Minimi.

Love,
Cheeseburger Brown

Cheeseburger Brown said...

Dear gl.,

There's a time and a place for a South Park reference (I know Team America isn't South Park technically, but it's South Park in spirit), and so here's the first one that I've (consciously) made. You've got to love that American guy -- I'm pretty sure he looked like a cross between the Marlboro man and some kid way too young to fight.

Dear Anonymous Boxer,

Thanks. Welcome. Stick around. There's more to come. Complete story archives.

Dear Dan,

You don't have to be sorry! Your observations are valid and fair.

However, food for thought: your notions about MREs concern peace-time MREs. Granted, such morsels are guaranteed to stay fresh until just this side of Judgement Day. However, your mileage may vary with rations scraped together under trying circumstances and stored in precarious conditions. A peace-time MRE is a square meal condensed -- a war-time MRE, on the other hand, might be whatever's on hand, divided and packed in the field.

As for the radar warning: I suspect some stealthy anti-radar technology at work, including jamming. A technological war isn't determined purely on whose works are mightiest, but rather their vulnerability to being somehow gummed up.

As for the last bit, that I'm not sure I buy. Mike's thought was to get to his post, to contribute what he could to defending against the attack. Whether that was strategic thinking or foolhardy, I think in that vein it is at least credible.

However, my rationalizing aside I'm always grateful for your notes, both positive and critical!

Love,
Cheeseburger Brown

Cheeseburger Brown said...

Dear all,

By the bye, I sometimes (often | always) write these comments in an interrupted session of rushes, so I don't know that I'm coming off right.

I just wanted to be explicit: I'm countering some of the points raised in the spirit of discussion, not to invalidate the observations or to dissuade any of you from talking about weaknesses in the text.

I welcome your feedback, and value its contents!

Love,
Cheeseburger Brown

Orick of Toronto said...

A carrier of the future would not be anything like a carrier of today. Like codewright says, they would carrying drones. Even if they were carrying manned fighters, the VTOL capability would mean the long runway would be obsolete. I think a carrier by then would be more like a frigate size, easily disguised as a cargo ship, or hidden using stealth technology.

I thought 'Mitrailleuse' is just French for Machine gun and CBB adopted it because his 'immersion' experience. Didn't know there is a modern day minimi.

And I image the future minimi would be more like fully automatic flechette guns, especially in a jungle setting where range isn't as important.

Anyways, we are making CBB spending too much time on replying comments instead of writing his great big novel. :)

Great story btw. I love catching up all the reading in one go.

sheik yerbouti said...

I found the spoiled combat rations a little odd, but not enough to throw me off. As for Mike's reaction, it seemed to me like a typical not-too-smart thing that people in stories are famous for doing.

dan: A barf bucket?

Simon said...

Dear CBB,

Thwarted by work filters yet again, I am resigned to come late to the party, down a few beers in rapid succession to catch my buzz up, and hope there's still an available tramp eager for a bit of fondling.

I'm pleased as punch to see Mike again. He's what kick-started this blog adventure and damned if it isn't good to see him a little more grown up. It seems totally in his spirit to share rations and well-wishes with his Axis opponent. Sort of in the spirit of the Allied-Axis Christmas gift exchange rumoured in WW2, the night before they all leaped out of the trenches and tried to kill each other. War surely sucks, large.

I have little else to add to the conversation that hasn't already been said. Very cool and unexpected use of the killing curse. Seems Potter's entered the pop culture psyche and is well and truly entrenched.

Very vivid imagery here. It was well-painted without seeming... gratuitous, I guess.

Mark said...

I'm sure someone else has mentioned that "America -- Fuck Yeah!" was used in Team America: World Police by the makers of Southpark. See, it's too late for me to read everybody's comments and too late for me to research Stone and Parker's names. Hey, wait, I just typed them.

Regardless, it was fun to see the phrase used here. They character could have heard it on that movie.

Teddy said...

The Germans DID have a cool badass-sounding name for themselves - the Third Reich. I'm not entirely certain they EVER referred to themselves as the Axis Powers, we only remember them that way because we won and that's what we called them. Mike probably would know his enemy as Axis.

regarding aircraft carriers...it is cheaper to ship a fighter jet to the battlezone and launch it from the deck than it is to launch it from an air force base in North America and refuel midflight two or three times on the way there and back. However, there are all sorts of cool thoughts in the process about fighters that skip off the top of the atmosphere and can make a global circuit on a single tank of gas and other cool stuff that may soon put something as bulky, expensive and slow as an Aircraft Carrier out of business quickly.

TRH

Cheeseburger Brown said...

Dear Simon,

I've been nursing a strong craving to use "Avada kedavra, motherfuckers!" for weeks, so I knew it had to come to a head sooner or later and thus trip your censor.

So I posted on Sunday night, hoping maybe you'd get to read it from home. It was a shot in the dark.

Oh well.

Dear all,

I have this crazy deadline last minute project that's been dumped on me at work, and maybe I could use your help.

I'm tasked with designing and executing a "dream look" for the pilot of a new show, in which footage is to be treated so as to appear to be recordings of people's actual dreams.

How you could help me is this: when you recall your own dreams, how do they look to you?

I'm not talking about the narrative of dreams here, but strictly the visuals (colour, texture, scintillation, detail exaggeration, texture, morphing, and so on).

Any and all notions appreciated.

Love,
Cheeseburger Brown

Simon said...

CBB, re: dreams.

Unfortunately or not, I remember very few of my dreams. (I'd like to learn about the lucid dreaming stuff you're trying to instil in Popsicle to ward off her nightmares.)

I remember this one where I had to dive into a deep, clear pool and salvage blue bricks from the bottom, then use them to build a wall. And I had to do it fast enough to prevent the cows from escaping. Escaping from where or to where, I don't know. But I was mightily frustrated that I could only carry so many bricks in my black, mesh bag back up to the surface of the pool. Didn't stop to figure that, completely unaided, I shouldn't have been able to haul them up in the first place.

Anyway...

What does sometimes stick with me is a paucity of colour. Not a black and white dream, but more like colours fade to near black and white the further from my focal point objects are. Neither does this imply blurriness, simply a fading of colour (and as I seem to ascribe it, importance) from what I see. the blue bricks I'm looking at are very definitely blue. The blue bricks further down the wall penning in the cows? Not so much.

Also, I have trouble flying, which sometimes pisses the hell out of me.

Anonymous said...

"The enemy cannot push a button if you disable his hand! Medic!"

<3

SaintPeter said...

RE: Your explantion
You may want to highlight the idea of uncloaking or something in the story. As written I found that it simply didn't ring true for me and was pretty distracting. I do agree that what you describe might be possible, so you ought to be able to suggest it in the story to keep folks like myself from giving you a hard time.

or not . . I love your stories regardless.

Finally, Mini-Mitrailleuse models like the C9A1 are in current use among the Canadian forces.
I stand corrected! I had no idea such a beast existed and I probably should have searched.

Moksha Gren said...

Dreams: Mostly, the colors are dim and the details washed out. Except for what I'm focusing on, the important stuff; they have an intensity that I tend to think is detail, but which isn't. I know...that doesn't make sense.

An example: I walk into a room. There's a piece of paper that seems important to me on the dresser. The room is there, but it's undetailed, taken for granted, smoothed over in a blurry sort of way. The paper however is vivid, crytstaline. I walk to it and try to read it...but can't. Intense scrutiny of details never works in my dreams. It's like the details was never there...but I didn't notice their absence until I really looked. The inability to read text is always my big clue that I'm dreaming.

Films of dreams always have a hard time capturing the reality since so much of what makes a dream work is an undercurrent of invented context. Things make sense that shouldn't. Things are understood even though they aren't seen. It's this imagined context that make the lack of detail discussed above all but invisible to the dreamer. You just assume it's all there...but it isn't.

I wouldn't know how to show that.

Dan said...

CBB,
When I remember a gream, it's the characters that strike me most vivdly, I.E the backgound is non- distinct or vague? not much color?

Sheik: The barf bucket was for chucking the baby out of the sewer with a pitch fork and it exploding against the wall. Also, I could smell the sewer when they were in there.

THE Danimal

Daniel said...

I wouldn't have the first idea how to film my dreams. My dreams lately seem to begin and end in the middle, and are often "movie-like". What I mean by this is that I myself am not involved at all in what is going on, so it's rather like watching a movie, but with gaps and jumps in logic.

Orick of Toronto said...

my dreams usually don't have much details, just a feeling or action; like tripping on a step, losing teeth, struggling to fly and the rare time when I became lucid, actually floating.

I think dream just can't be realistic depicted when you are awake. your client is probably looking for some sort of senseless sequence like out of twilight zone or the whole endless white background thing like the Neo-Morpheous conversation in the matrix.

Mark said...

I watched my wife die a horrible death in a car wreck, in a nightmare last weekend. I saw her brains.

I was in the car behind hers, and felt helpless as I saw, as clearly as if I were driving toward an intersection on a sunny day, the semi slam into her car and rip it and her in half (and remove the top of her head).

It was very much in focus and so realistic I woke up and spoke to her just to hear her voice.

Usually, however, I know I'm dreaming and I'm more an observer than a participant. In nightmares, I usually can wake myself before things get scary.

One time, in high school, I dreamt was in a church with frightening crimson outside, and a black cat screaming in my face, "Consecrate me! Consecrate me!"kzzbic

CodeWright said...

Dreams:

In dreams for me, reality has two representations which blur together. In the center of focus/attention, everything is hyper-vivid and detailed, but outside the focus of attention colors seem washed out, things are blurry (soft focus), and the level of detail is low (becoming even sketchy or blank at the periphery of the senses).

Often, if something particularly traumatic or interesting happens, it rewinds, replays, rewinds, replays several times, perhaps even from different perspectives. Usually this means it plays out exactly the same as it did before and the repetition is for emphasis, but sometimes the action taken can be changed.

Sometimes perspective can become disembodied and one can observe oneself in the environment as from a third person view.

Sometimes the unusual can occur without anyone giving it any special attention (gliding above the ground instead of walking or somebody with a cat head).

Sometimes foreshadowing can lend to urgency (zoom of attention/focus on a dark hallway or a looming stairway).

Anonymous said...

I dream of owning a hog ranch one day.

al said...

Regarding Dreams:

I often find myself lost in the maze of a huge basement of a house or building. No natural light, no real light source of any kind really.

And everything is down there. Whatever I'm looking for, wherever I am coming from and all the stuff in between. Bars, Restaurants, Stores, etc. Everything you would find walking down a street but only in a basement.

The layout reminds me of my old middle school building or sometimes it's a huge hotel or museum but always underground. no windows.

mandrill said...

Re dreams:

I often find myself unable to make out faces in my dreams, I know who the person is but can see no detail of their face, its not blank but it seems to blur and shift randomly. Also text in dreams is never readable in the conventional sense, you will know what it says but the image presented to you is not that of the words saying it. As to filming dreams; sharp focus and vivid colour on the object of the dreamer's attention while everything else is indistinct and hard to make out (unless the dreamer's focus switches). You could possibly depict this by having elements of the dream stand out briefly as the characters move around in the foreground they shift in and out of focus in the blink of an eye and other things in the surrounding environment do the same, there should only be one point of focus at a time though. Hope this helps.

Now, the story. Good start, nice to see Mike again and I'm already wondering how he will use his nightflying ninja skills to get out of this predicament. The doo-dah he is in is deep and smelly.

veriword: llwwc: used to draw a Welshman's attention to something

Cheeseburger Brown said...

Dear all,

Thanks for the dreamy bits. Apologies about the ongoing delay. Will rectify ASAP.

Love,
Cheeseburger Brown

Anonymous said...

I am suffering from some fairly intense withdrawl symptoms.