ALT: The Feather

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ALT: The Feather

Post by Reinbach on Thu Jun 12, 2008 1:08 pm

Another watch at the Valkurm outpost, and Ritchard Fordham was cursing his decision to join the military. He enjoyed the uniform and the action, and he had made some good friends in his squad. But he could feel that he was chafing under the yolk of military life. It wasn't that he took orders from a man he wanted to beat into a bloody pulp; he was use to that. It wasn't the danger, either; he accepted the prospect of death with detached fatalism and never really bothered to wonder why. The thing that he hated about military life the most was pulling watch duty and the boredom that went with it. Soldiering is really a boring career with tiny periods of excitement and bowel-emptying terror, interspersed just enough to give you a few funny stories to tell should you live to see retirement. If he died, Ritchard thought, at least he wouldn't be in the military anymore. He suspected others of feeling the same, but they'd never vocalize it, so Ritchard decided not to. He looked over at the other soldier next to him, a fellow named Eckhardt, who had also drawn watch duty and tried to figure out what he was thinking. From the looks of it, nothing. Eckhardt is such a poor, stupid bastard, Ritchard thought. He probably loves this job.

Eckhardt looked back at Ritchard quizzically, forcing Ritchard to look away and continue the watch. Watch is the most boring part of the military. You stand for hours, and you watch. What do you watch? Sand, apparently. Snippers and damselflies, too. Sometimes sheep. You're supposed to watch for an attacker, which he supposed was a possibility. It had happened here before, but the odds of it happening again were slim to none and slim just decided to see what a bullet tastes like as it's being fired from a gun. So you stand and you watch, and if someone does come, you figure out if they're there to give you food and/or tobacco or stab you in the chest By that time you're so bored that either one is something to look forward to.

There had to be something to break the mindcrushing boredom. He decided to try a conversation.

"It's hot today," Ritchard said to Eckhardt.

"Yeah," Eckhardt said back, flatly.

"Think there'll be another sandstorm?" Ritchard asked.

"Likely," Eckhardt said.

Goddess damnit, Ritchard thought. This is getting nowhere. Then something in the sky caught his eye. A spec in the distance, falling from the sky. He squinted to make out what it was. A feather or something. It didn't matter. Still, he didn't recall seeing any birds around here. Kind of odd, but not unlikely. He probably wasn't paying attention. The spec got bigger, and he could make it out better. The feather was white like innocence, had a special kind of feeling about it when he looked at it. It seemed to be coming right at him, too, but he knew the wind would blow it out of the way.

"Hey, Eckhardt," Ritchard said. "Look at that feather."

"What about it," Eckhardt said, sounding annoyed.

"It's coming right for me."

"Huh," Eckhardt said as he looked at its path. "It is."

Wind blew, and the feather flipped in the air, but otherwise stayed on a steady trajectory toward Ritchard.

"Weird," Ritchard said, fixated on the feather. By now, he was under its spell. He couldn't look away. The feather brought with it a familiar feeling that he couldn't describe. A feeling of nostalgia, but for something he had never experienced. The feather drew closer, and Ritchard reached out h is hand.

"I wouldn't touch that," Eckhardt said. "You don't know where that thing's been. You're gonna catch a virus or something."

Ritchard grabbed the feather, and immediately felt a rush of sensory overload. The memories of a life he didn't recognize rushed into his head. His eyes rolled back and his knees got weak. As he passed out into the sand, the last thing he heard was Eckhardt saying "Told ya." At this moment, Ritchard Fordham ceased to exist.

Reinbach opened his eyes a few minutes later to see a concerned Iron Musketeer standing over him. "Oi, shit, I'm under arrest, ain't I?"
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Reinbach

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