Mission Assignment

Copyright © 2014 Chris Schnaufer
I closed my eyes as I walked through the swinging front doors and into the air conditioned one storey building with Sergeant Huey. Laughing, I swatted Huey on the back of his head as I walked past him. He had paused to allow his eyes to adjust to the relative darkness inside the building. As I reached the hallway to the CO’s office I told Huey to wait in the outside office for me. He made a frowney face and leaned against one of the desks in the empty office; he can be such a kid sometimes. I uselessly fixed my short hair, took a deep breath, and squared my shoulders as I entered the hallway. Making a smart left turn I then marched down the hall to my CO’s open door.

Looking at my watch as I reached the door I saw that I was a few seconds early. I stood in place looking at my arm held up in front of me until my watch counted up to the hour. Knocking on the door frame I announced myself, marched up to the desk and stood at attention.

CO Martin didn’t even look up from his screen, so I waited. After a minute he rubbed his eyes and looked up at me.

“I have your next assignment here,” he said taking a document off his desk and handing it to me.

“Yes Sir,” I said as I took the document chip.

“You and your team will leave in two hours and only your personal weapons are allowed. You will be supplied once you land,” he said.

“The rest of your team will join you once you land,” he continued. “You can read the rest,” he said, motioning to the chip.

Dismissed by the return of his gaze to the screen on his desk, I saluted, said “Yes Sir” again, about faced, and marched out of the office, down the hall, and made the right turn into the office where Huey was waiting for me.

Relaxing once I was out of the hallway, I strode to one of the readers that lined a wall.

“What have we got?” Huey asked me from where he was still leaning against the desk.

“We’ve got a Martian invasion force off Cape Cod and we have to fight them off with our bare hands,” I sarcastically replied.

“How do I know until I’ve read it?” I said, placing the chip into the reader.

The reader screen came to life and turned blue around the edges as it registered the document. I moved my left wrist to the red circle painted onto the desk top and focused on entering my password.

I always find this harder to do than anyone else I know.

When I had originally joined my unit a wire was implanted into a vein on my left wrist. I then had to train the wire to recognize what my password would be. This involved repeatedly thinking of a sequence of thoughts that made up my password. It doesn’t matter what you think as long as it’s the same sequence of thoughts that produce the same resulting changes in blood chemistry. The wire is actually a small computer that registers hormones and other chemicals in my blood. Certain thoughts cause changes in blood chemistry that the computer detects. When the correct sequence of hormones and chemicals are released the wire transmits a signal that identifies me. That’s all there is to it.

Except that there are actually two steps. The first is to get the wire’s attention – to unlock it. I can then “enter” the password that causes it to transmit my security code. And, except, that the thoughts one thinks should be strong emotionally so that wire can better pick up the changes in blood.

Anyway, I concentrated on unlocking the wire.

The wire let me know it was unlocked by causing an itch on my wrist. Most people feel a little tingle but for some reason it’s an itch with me. So now I’m trying to stop my eyes from welling up and have an itch on my wrist that I can’t scratch. All I can say is that I really dislike this and wish for the old days when people typed passwords on a keyboard.

Getting a grip, I thought my password and was relieved to see the screen show the ‘Accepted’ message. Sometimes it takes more than one try to get in.

Surreptitiously wiping my eyes I removed my wrist from the circle and scratched it. Much better.

I heard Huey move behind me to look over my shoulder. He always gave me space while I unlock the readers, something I really appreciate.

The reader detected Huey’s presence and went blank for a second as it scanned him. I sat there wondering if I’d be able to have children from all the scanning. Apparently it was satisfied that he had clearance, or that it was done cooking my tubes, since the screen came back and MP’s didn’t pour in through the door. His clearance level was something I already knew about since we went through the security clearance ordeal at the same time.

“We really get to invade Mexico?” Huey said reading the screen.

“No, I get to invade Mexico. With a little help from some friends,” I replied. “You get to stay here and burn the midnight oil for me.”

“Don’t you wish,” he replied. “I’m going to be at home sleeping in my nice warm bed with Candice and dreaming about nothing in particular.”

“How’s the ol’ ball and chain doing anyway?” I asked while reading, referring to Candice.

“Same as earlier today,” came the dry reply. Huey stretched and let out a big yawn. “Yep, warm and snug.”

All my glare did was cause Huey to smile.

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