Lieutenant X Says ''Attention!'' to Private Y

by Zachary Taylor

"It is truly an odd device," said the private, who was quite undoubtedly "insane," as he had to be observed by one of the military's psychologists. The psychologist kept his bay as they surveyed the device before them; it was a singular device, quite odd and eccentric, and the private, who stood beside his cooking gear, stared at it with admiration. The company was in the middle of nowhere, surrounded by miles of trees in the blistering heat " they didn't quite know where they were. All that was important was that the private didn't wander off like he did this morning. The psychologist was to protect him at all costs, so it happened in the morning that the private wandered off into the woods, which caused a panic in the platoon.

"He's gone!" cried another private. "He's gone off the deep end again, Sarge! That kook went off looking to shoot one of them there squirrels that keeps stealing his nuts!"

So the platoon spent the afternoon looking for him, equipped with their inept "banana guns" (regular bananas, mind you, which they "mistook" for guns). They found him in an empty glade with a small lake, sleeping in the shade of a clump of trees. He was ordered to stay at the base camp, otherwise he'd be court-martialed. Being court-martialed by the military was a felony, and plenty of soldiers received the harsh sentence on their "permanent record"; most of them were sentenced to six years hard labor, and forced to suffer the brutal pecking of chickens in a dirty, grotesque chicken coop in the middle of the Utah desert.

The device he was now facing was nothing more than a video-camera, a device which you and I are familiar with, but one they do not know about. The camera was attached to a pole in the center of the camp. Its "eye" stared hard at the private, and its head revolved and moved every time the private flinched. The psychologist sat on a stack of boxes and took notes.

"What's it do?" asked the private. He was a very ugly man: he resembled a goose, a poor man's Ichabod Crane with a crooked nose and a long neck. His shotgun was clutched between the palms of his hands, albeit nervously, as the camera tracked his every move. "I'm tired of shaking in my boots, Doc. That thing's the Devil, I say!"

The music emitting from the throats of many birds erupted and the whole forest was immediately an orchestra.

"Don't be afraid," said the psychologist. "It's merely there to keep track of you so you don't go off wandering again."

"But what if the enemy comes?" he said. "What if they invade our camp?"

"I highly doubt that," said the psychologist. "Lieutenant Q placed mines all around camp this morning. If anyone crosses within our borders, then off to Heaven or Hell they go." As he spoke, he took his notes. "It so happens that, well, the enemy hasn't been seen in about five days, so they could have retreated."

Despite being true to his practice, the psychologist forgot to mention that as the platoon was leaving for a simple combat mission deep within the heart of the desert, the mines went off and the whole platoon " minus the private and his doctor " died with crooked and funny countenances glued to their faces.

The war was something nobody of Providence, Rhode Island anticipated. In fact, war wasn't an option. The Libertarian National Socialist Green Party came to power rather peacefully, although there were cries of fraud and the election being "fixed." Riots spewed forth all around the little principality. The new party couldn't really keep order, mainly because of the cows that blocked all incoming traffic on the roads, or military guards shooting at rocks.

The LNSGP " or "Linsgip" to the common folk " claimed they were descendants of a man named Adolf Hitler, who lived in the days when civilization was advanced and rather, quite frankly, absurd. Their mission was to transfer all funds from public welfare system and extraneous government into environmental cleanup; restrict the amount of land that can be used; redevelop inner cities; reward with tax breaks those with few electrical appliances; end frivolous and pointless industries; and force widespread recycling in detail. This new "green" agenda forced many to leave their homes for a new life, as they couldn't use electrical devices unless the military needed them. The Linsgip's platform was also very anti-government, very singular in its approach to governing; they were obsessed with "spring cleaning" and making sure that the environment " what was left of it from years of abuse by cow and horse feces " had delicate carpeting and the houses had those stupid solar panels on their roofs.

The former Rhode Island state government duly noted that "those damned green Nazis look like those hokey tin-foiled space aliens in old B-movies" (statement from former Governor Master Bates, May 11, 3011). The government was disbanded, and forced into exile. The new government was formed with the motto "Green is the new Earth, peace be it unto all men, that we must bless the land the Lord Thy God have given thee."

Eventually, it got so bad that the state of Rhode Island banned the color green from all schools and churches. Nobody was to have green, or see green; otherwise it was prison for you.

"Kinder, gentler Nazis" was the new catchphrase for the "developed" academia, who resided outside Providence. The intellectuals kept those of Providence informed; they called themselves the "media." The academia resided in the peoples' minds, for there couldn't be paper or televisions, so all incoming media came via transmission from the outside. (Cellular phones were permitted for emergencies, but most Rhode Islanders ignored the rule and used the phones anyway for leisure.) The people of Providence lived like they were teleported back to the sixteen-hundreds.

LNSGP was successful in convincing Providence that the world was warming rapidly, that if something wasn't done to "combat the world's energy crisis, to prevent the evils of technology from spreading" (from a LNSGP rally flyer, dated 11/11/11), then they must, at all costs, keep the world cool. It was required that all citizens bathe in cold water, and cover their "houses" with ice cubes. Each family had an ice man to oversee the new "cold agenda."

Even though LNSGP promised low taxes, Providence was still taxed to death at a rate of 55%, an excuse by LNSGP that "high taxes will cover the costs of out green dream" (official statement from General Whatchamacallit, March 4, 3011). Eventually, the people gave up and protested. The flag of LNSGP " a perverted version of the original " had a green backdrop with a swastika. It was burned by an unknown person. LNSGP sent its forces to every house, demanding who the perpetrator was. Naturally, nobody confessed. The party in power was losing its "magic," and the people rebelled.

The Green War was six weeks in. So far, it was a stalemate. The reason was because of all the inept, bumbling idiots who called themselves "soldiers of the earth." In truth, they were idiotic simpletons who even add two and two.

Private Y " our eccentric little "hero" " sat under the camera's baleful gaze and was talking to himself. The psychologist took good note of this.

"What, oh what, are we going to do about the nation's health care crisis?" he said to the camera. "Would you happen to know, oh odd apparatus? No? Aw, that's a shame, sir!" The camera moved its head in a circular motion as Private Y walked around its metallic stalk now. He poked it. He pointed his gun at it. He ordered it to stop, and it wouldn't obey. He eventually gave up and re-claimed his original position.

The psychologist ceased his task of infinite note-taking and phoned the military based in Providence to send another platoon, as the original suffered an "unfortunate accident." One would be sent immediately.

Private Y began to strip down only to his underwear and his camouflage hard-hat.

"Shut up, you stupid apparatus!" he cried, raising his shotgun above his head. "Leave me alone! I have done nothing to you!" He wailed like an American Indian, and started to beat the camera's pole with the barrel of his gun.

The psychologist took note. "Saturday, August 25 " Private is officially insane. Thinks a camera is having a conversation with him. He's lost all sense of reality. I need a hallucinogenic. Please God, help my soul." (Doctor I's medical journal, published May 17, 3111.) He resumed his seat on the wooden boxes. The heat was getting to him now. "Wish that those stupid idiots would make more ice cubes." (Journal entry, dated March 14, 3111.)

He sighed. "Good grief," he said. "He needs serious medical help. Where's there a doctor when you need one?"

When the pole met its demise, Private Y proceeded to shoot the camera repeatedly with his gun. The shots echoed across the whole forest.

Lieutenant X and his platoon made it " in "good graces," as the psychologist said " just as Private Y was ready for his lunch. The lieutenant had a habit of keeping his arms crossed against his barrel-like chest. His beard was scruffy, and he wore that ridiculous, Naziesque uniform, except now it was that ugly, putrid green; and, green was banned. Of course, that rule doesn't apply to the military or LNSGP.

Lieutenant X was surrounded by a bunch of bumbling idiots like Private Y, all talking to themselves and shooting at the birds that flew overhead with those stupid bananas.

"What seems to be the problem?" asked the lieutenant to the psychologist. "Where is the other platoon? I heard there was a freak accident."

The psychologist stood at attention. "The former lieutenant, sir, Lieutenant Q, placed mines all around this camp to prevent the enemy from invading us; it so happened that he decided to take his men outside camp and they were destroyed, sir!" His smile was weak, and he was trembling ferociously.

"Of course," said the lieutenant. "This always happens! Why can't we have officers who do their jobs?" This he asked his platoon, who ignored him and rammed their heads into each other.

"Stupid bastards," he muttered to himself.

Private Y was sitting in front of one of the tents sucking on his thumb, after having eaten a can of sardines and half a lettuce sandwich. He looked toward the new platoon with his huge blue eyes. He looked like an infant sucking on a bottle. Lieutenant X looked at him disgustingly. The psychologist resumed his seat and stared off into space.

The lieutenant was stern. "Attention, Private!" he said. "Stand at attention!"

Private Y obliged, even though he struggled in the task by falling over on his butt multiple times.

"I said, 'Stand at attention!'" yelled Lieutenant X. "Why don't you bastards listen?"

Private Y stood at attention, although it was corrupt; he drooled and mishandled his gun. It fired in the direction of the frightened lieutenant, who dove to safety. The platoon's men continuously rammed into each other; the psychologist went inside the tent to create a mixture to immediately terminate his session in this life.

"Dulce et decorum est, pro patria mori," said Private Y as he correctly stood in the desired pose. "It is an honor and a right to die for your country," he said. "That is our motto, sir! Excuse me for being so rude, sir. You see, I had this odd device staring at me all day, and he really freaked me out, sir!"

The lieutenant rose from the soft grass and brushed off his uniform. He stomped toward the idiotic private, whose drooling was now far too disgusting, and yelled right in his face.

"YOU CALL YOURSELF A PRIVATE? MY MOTHER WOULD BE A BETTER PRIVATE THAN YOU! NO! CORRECTION! A TREE WOULD BE A BETTER PRIVATE THAN YOU! STAND AT ATTENTION! DO YOU HEAR ME? STAND AT ATTENTION! GIVE ME A HUNDRED PUSH-UPS, PRIVATE!"

Private Y, who was flabbergasted but still undeniably "insane," cocked his head like a chicken. He pursed his lower lip as if to cry, but then he smiled and looked to the right. He was staring at the tent where the psychologist was, secretly concocting his potion to murder himself. The idiotic private aimed his gun, and boldly protested, "Look, lieutenant! Those damn squirrels are after my nuts again! I must protect my nuts, sir! Those pesky critters will stop at nothing!" He then proceeded to scream like an Indian and ran towards the open tent.

A gunshot sounded, then screaming. The lieutenant witnesses Private Y stuffing the barrel of the gun in the mouth of the psychologist and pulling the trigger. The insane private proudly proclaimed victory that he killed the "pesky critters," jumping up and down. Amid the tumult of chaos, two of the lieutenant's men took a saw from the tool tent, off in the distance, and proceeded to chop down a tree. The saw ate away at the tree's bark.

The lieutenant was shocked at the private's rampage. "Well, it seems we've trained these soldiers in the old lie: cogito ergo sum " I think, therefore I am."

The cracking of the tree was fierce, and it snapped. The gigantic totem fell upon Lieutenant X, Private Y, and the body of the psychologist.

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