Carpe Diem

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Carpe Diem - A Short Story.

 It’s 9:30 am, August 2011
“And so,” Hollister drones, “Lord Cardigan made the biggest mistake of the Crimean campaign here at Balaclava. He attempted to charge into a valley full of Russian guns. Never, repeat never, do this on the battlefield unless instructed to do so by high command.”
Nino sits at the back of the small class. He has not enrolled in the Democratic American Revolutionary Force (which suffered the unfortunate acronym of DARF) to learn about history’s greatest military blunders. He had joined, in his own words, to “kick some socialist butt”. All his other classes teach him to do useful things, like how to remove an enemy’s nose in unarmed combat (a finger in each nostril, WRENCH). But military history is just plain useless. He will go to see the course adviser in the morning and change out of history.
Meanwhile Hollister drones on.
 Flash to 8:15am, the next day.
Nino walks into the adviser’s office. There is news running on the holograph. It tells of the DARF’s astonishing victory over the Socialist Front at Memphis. It states that more than 50 000 people lay dead at the hands of the DARF and all the men in the room seem to interpret this as a good thing. A man turns to Nino, he is the course adviser. Nino informs him of his wish to transfer from history to battlefield reconnaissance.
“I don’t blame you,” he states, “Captain Hollister’s class is the least popular in the academy. There, you’ve changed” he says, typing on a keyboard. Nino thanks him and leaves.
 Now it’s forty-five minutes later.
“Nino Tinzana to captain Hollister’s office” informed the holograph. Nino remembers it as he walks towards Hollister’s office
 One minute, four seconds pass.
“Nino, why did you leave? You were such a good student.” Hollister is standing up behind his desk.
“Captain Hollister, I.....”
“Call me Simon” says Hollister. Nino is fazed.
“Simon, I don’t like your class, it has no use, sir. I am only interested in the future.”
“No use? History, Nino, is about the past. You say you are interested in the future. But one day, Nino, the future will be the past. Do you understand?”
“No, Sir”
“Now, at different times the past is the future and vice versa. To know one, you have to know the other.” Hollister is almost exasperated now. ”History is about people who seized the day, and because they did, they are remembered. If you want to be remembered, you need to seize the day. To learn how, you need to know how others did it.” Nino hears this hit a chord in his psyche, but ignores it. He is under the influence of some cosmic spirit of arrogance.
“Sir, .....”
“Sim....” Hollister tries to interject, but is overrun by Nino.
“....I have left your class. I don’t want to be remembered, I simply want to kill socialists.” Nino leaves the room. Hollister sits down.
 Now it’s three years later, 12:47pm
“....Nino Tinzana,” says the voice. Nino steps up to the podium to receive his certificate of license, which allows him to kill on the battlefield. He hears the applause, turns and sees Simon Hollister. Nino has graduated now, and Captain Hollister doesn’t matter, not that he ever did, Nino tells himself.
 Step ahead 7 years. It’s May 2021, 6:07am.
“Men,” says Major Tinzana, “you are the best of the best. The finest soldiers in the DARF. Most of you have been with us since the beginning of Civil War II. You are the elite, which is why I have chosen you to accompany me. Now, you’ve all heard that we have the socialist stronghold, West Point Academy, under siege. What you don’t know is that there is only one main electricity cable to power the whole complex. If we sever it, the socialists will be defenceless.” Nino clicks a button on the holograph. An image of West Point Academy springs up. “They have defences here, here and here,” He points to various spots on the image. ”the cable is here. We proceed in two hours.”
 Skip forward 2 hours 48 minutes.
Nino is in a truck which will deliver him to the cable and the other men into the hands of the enemy. He told them the location of a defence bunker, not the electrical substation. He will tell them that he is going to ‘observe’ from a distance. He will sever the cord himself, all the defences being drawn to the incursion at the bunker.
 Another one-and-a-half hours.
Nino hears the screams as his unit is torn to shreds by the Socialist Front bullets. He can see the substation, it is defenceless, it is as he predicted. Nino stalks towards it, there are no more cries or shots. He sees the massive iron door, the high, barred windows. He throws his grapnel to the roof where it catches something.
 Two minutes and thirty seconds gone...
Major Nino Tinzana finally levers open the rusted skylight with his knife. He remembers the relief as he first saw the skylight, that the mission would not be stopped by something so small as ‘access difficulties’. He drops silently into the substation, open a door and is manhandled into a full nelson by the two large men who had been trailing him ever since he had left the truck and it’s doomed occupants.
 Nine more days and four hours are gone.
Nino hears the voice of the warder, but cannot see him, his eyes lost to the torture chamber two days ago. He feels sick in the stomach as the man grips him around the waist, and picks him up. Nino is light. He has not eaten since he left for the substation, and one of his legs was taken from him six days ago. He tunes in as the warder keeps speaking:
“....ster requests your audience, sir. Ha, maybe he’ll kill you today. But probably not. Your DARF friends will pay a high price for you, even without some of your essential organs.......” Nino tuned out.
 Four minutes thirty seconds pass over.
“...jor Tinzana,” Another, more familiar voice awakens Nino. A painful jab comes from his arm. “That was a truth serum. It’ll help you talk, and I trust colonel Jamieson didn’t damage your vocal chords?” The last part is not directed at Nino.
“No, sir.” The voice of the warder.
“Good. Now, Major Tinzana, you remember me, I hope?” Nino fits the voice pattern together in his head.
“S-simon?” Nino is psychologically reduced to a student again.
“Not Simon now. Brigadier Hollister.. Or sir, to you, major”
“Sir? But aren’t you one of us, sir?”
“No. Never was. I joined the Socialist Front long ago. I was a mole. Remember the Koom Valley ambush, Major? I leaked the movements.” Nino feels strong hands restrain him, but relax when he shows no signs of movement.
“Did they discover you, sir?” Nino does not know why he asks this.
“Yes, but by the time they did, I was on my way back to west point. Reconnaissance mission, I told them at the time,” gloats the brigadier.
“But to business, major. I captured you to find out where th......” Nino tunes out. He feels his mouth move, he must be answering questions, but the exact answers are unclear to him.
 One hour twenty minutes fall past.
“...eport heavy losses in the area. Request backup, code seven.” Nino tunes back in. A holograph has obviously sprang to life. Nino hears rapid footfalls outside the room.
“I’ll have to cut this short, Major, duty calls. Your friends have come for you. We can deal with them, but I’d like to supervise it. Goodbye, Major Nino Tinzana. Oh, Colonel Jamieson?” Nino hears the click of boots.
“Break his neck.”
“Sir.” A door shuts. He feels hands on the sides of his head. They jerk and-
 Two minutes.
Brigadier Hollister strides down the corridor. He feels he has seized the day, even though it took him a good ten years. He enters a room full of skittish Generals and watches a holograph. It shows seventy-six men strewn on the ground in various poses, their blood running together.
 The seconds tick by.

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