Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Today I am going to be taking a slightly different tac, and offering up an excerpt from one of my already available books. This piece comes from The Road to War, which is the second volume of the Course Books.

Hunter looked down bleakly at the thing on the counter before him. It was comprised of sleek black metal, and possessed a sort of elegance he had never considered before. Still, the thing stirred feelings deep inside him that were as dark as its surface and made him clutch his shoulder and grimace.
He didn’t want to give what he felt a name. He knew what the name was, and he knew he was a coward for not admitting it, but somehow even saying what he felt in his head was too difficult.
It was like a tax that his conscience was paying to his own guilt, this thing that he felt inside. He was guilty not because he felt it, but because he lacked the strength of will to admit it.
What was it that caused him to feel this way, and why? What was it about this object, this inanimate collection of metal, springs, and chemicals, that forced him to experience an emotion that he so disliked enough to feel the way he did?
There was no reason why he should dread what he felt, it could be a very useful emotion, but for now it was his enemy.
But then, how does one better destroy an enemy than by turning it into a friend?
He could turn this feeling inside him into a friend, all he had to do was retrain and reprogram himself. Persistently and convincingly tell himself that this feeling was here, with its gift of energy and heightened awareness.
This fear he felt was something he could control.
This thing that sat on the table was something he could not.
The thing sat there.
This was odd, because Hunter had never thought of it as the sort of thing that just sat there, it always seemed to be up and moving around, usually pointed at someone.
But it didn’t point, it just sat.
Hunter eyed it cautiously, afraid to touch it. He’d never seen one up close; they were always in someone’s hand beckoning him to stay away. He had never wanted to look closely at one; they just always seemed like a wise thing to stay away from.
The sounds in the room around him faded from perception as Hunter sat looking at the thing, which continued to just sit, the light dancing off its polished black surface, making, it almost seem to grin at him mockingly.
You’re afraid of me; it seemed to say.
But it didn’t grin or speak, it just sat.
“Pick it up Hunter,” Instructor Gailen ordered from behind him.
“I’d rather not,” Hunter replied, unable to hide his apprehension.
“It won’t bite,” the instructor hissed.
In the alcove next to Hunter’s a loud thunderclap sounded and Jason yelped in pain. Hunter leaned back and glanced around the foam wall with Instructor Gailen.
Jason was jumping frantically from one foot to the other, clutching his hand. Hunter saw deep crimson blood oozing out between his thumb and pointer finger.
“Medic!” Instructor Gailen called before turning back to Hunter. “Ok, maybe it will bite, just watch out, ok?”
“I don’t want to,” Hunter shook his head, looking back down at the thing before him.
“It’s just a gun, Hunter, pick it up,” the Instructor’s tone was even and emotionless, but it still commanded respect and authority. One of the earliest lessons at Gudersnipe was to respect the instructors. If an instructor ever had to raise their voice for any reason it meant bad things would follow.
“Guns kill people,” Hunter grimaced, reaching for his shoulder again.
“Guns don’t kill people,” Instructor Gailen replied. “That’s your job, you kill people, or at least you will once you learn to use that gun.”
“Do I have to?” Hunter asked.
“Hunter, lets address the issue of target shooting before we ask ourselves whether or not you’ll ever see combat,” Instructor Gailen said in the same even, emotionless voice. “Now pick up the gun. It won’t do anything until you pick it up.”
“I should warn you I haven’t had the most positive of experiences with these things,” Hunter cautioned.
“That’s ok, neither has Jason,” Instructor Gailen replied. “Now pick it up and fire.”
Hunter reached out and cautiously wrapped his fingers around the handle of the gun.
It felt heavy.
He’d never touched a gun before. He’d had his hands on all manner of high-powered military technology, but he’d never touched a gun.
He lifted the weapon up cautiously, keeping the barrel carefully oriented away from himself and the instructor. Holding it at arms length, he tightened his finger experimentally on the trigger, testing precisely how much strength it would take to activate it.
Tighter, tighter, he closed his eyes and squeezed.
The pistol sounded with a fantastic report that rang in his ears. The recoil sent his loose arm pointing almost straight up. He’d never known these things packed so much of a kick.
He opened his eyes and looked down the shooting range at the target barely a dozen paces away. He wasn’t sure where exactly his bullet had gone, but it certainly hadn’t been anywhere near the target.

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