Dusty shivered in the growing cold. The straight jacket wasnt able to provide enough protection. The padded wall retained a small measure of heat from his body, but not enough. He was going to freeze to death. He clamped down on the hysterical laughter. Never had there been a day this bad for him, or anyone he knew.
He wondered how much better the day would have been if either of his alarm clocks had gone off. Neither had because the power had gone off during the night resetting his primary alarm. Not that a power failure was a valid excuse to miss training. Thats why he had a battery back up. Of all nights for the batteries to die, last night had not been it.
Dukes pounding on the door and angry voice had snapped him out of a nightmare. In retrospect, that had been the best thing to happen all day. Five minutes after answering the door, Duke had let him race to get dressed for the assault drill. Out of breath Dusty had arrived to find his place on the defenders side had been taken by a promising green shirt. Instead, Dusty got to lug the 50 cal, ammo, and the radio equipment in addition to his other gear.
He brought up the rear as they waded through mud for 20 minutes. Trip Wire was point finding the traps. The best place to have him. Any other place and time the man was a walking accident. Once out of the mud, the team leader called a short break to clean off the mud. One of the green shirts sat down and was about to lean against a tree when Dusty spotted the trap.
Dont, hed shouted, leaping. He had managed to push the idiot out of the way, but instead, he took the grenade. Or rather the radio did, setting off the ammo, in theory. In reality he was now covered in safety orange paint. Fuck!
The uniform was ruined, and the paint would take days to wash off. He looked at the weapon, and then glared at the stupid green shirt. It looked like the rest of the day was going to be spent cleaning off the paint, and getting it out of every little crack and crevice. That stupid private would pay for this, especially if he didnt come to help clean up.
Thirty minutes later Dusty arrived at the arms room. The supply specialist in charge looked at the weapon with horror. Dusty set up camp in a corner, disassembling the weapon while waiting for cleaning supplies. The steel wool pad that arrived with the supplies held the most promise for starting. Two hours later he was still scrubbing off the paint from the main parts when the rest of the group arrived. The aggressing team had taken a beating, not that the defenders had gotten off lightly. But those weapons were clean within twenty minutes.
Dusty waved the private over, but a hand from Duke stopped him. It was clear form Dukes expression that cleaning the 50 cal solo was part of the punishment for being late. Two hours later the paint was finally gone from the entire weapon. Dusty reassembled it and ran it through a function test, to have it fail. He sighed and took it apart again, checking each part for problems. Nothing. He tried putting it together once more. Another failed function test.
The specialist came back from his breakfast and watched Dusty try the whole thing once more. A third failure. The specialist took the weapon, played around with it for a few minutes then ran another function test. The 50 cal clicked in all the right places. Dusty cleaned up while the specialist secured the weapon in the arms room.
Smelly, dirty, and hungry Dusty headed to his room for a quick shower and a clean uniform. He couldnt remember if he had any food stashed in there still. He turned on the water, to let it warm up while he went for a clean uniform. There werent any. He rummaged for the cleanest parts he could then retreated to the bathroom. The air wasnt even remotely warm. He checked the water, cold.
Dusty stripped and took a record fast shower. Most of the paint refused to wash off. He sighed as he got out a razor and the rest of his shaving supplies. As he put them away a few minutes later he counted the cuts, five. Maybe he could manage to go unfound for the rest of the day.
While he dressed, Dusty search for something to eat, without luck. He did find enough change to get something from a vending machine. Running a hand through his hair, he left the room, the door clocking behind him. Hed left the change in the room. He reached in a pocket for his keys, and then banged his head on the door. They were with the change on the table.
Reluctantly, Dusty headed for the Motor Pool, his AWE Striker needed a few adjustments before the weekend. A quick glance at his vehicle tempted him to go AWOL. All the tires, including the spare sitting in the drivers seat were flat. Someone had mistaken the passenger area for a sandbox.
Six hours later he had five good tires, with new inner tubes. The first one had a slow leak, discovered only after Dusty had put the spare back in its proper place. That had meant removing the first tire and starting all over again with it. In the process, he managed to miss lunch as well. Dusty hunted up a shop-vac and began removing the sand. By the end of the normal workday, he was finally finished. Clutch caught up to him as he was putting away the last of the tools.
Hawk changed the duty roster last night. Youre supposed to be in Ops till 2200.
Wonderful. Thanks Clutch.
Dusty ran to Ops. Deep Six was there waiting for him. The sub-driver looked odd in his land uniform, and in this instance very unhappy.
Sorry Im late. Its been one of those days.
Save it. You owe me. He slid over the orders of the day, and the accountability paperwork.
Predictably, it was out of order. The hand off which should have taken only a few minutes ended up taking thirty minutes. Deep Six hastily left Ops once Dusty officially took over. Normally the early part of Friday nights was quiet as people retreated and packed for weekend escapes. This time, the phone didnt stop ringing. Dusty, and the rest of the Ops staff, was kept busy solving one problem after another.
He wasnt certain how it happened that out of all the people working in Ops, he was the only one that didnt get a chance to eat. In a normal command, a call would get food delivered. There werent any delivery drivers with a clearance good enough to let them get with in 10 miles of this place.
Dusty knew his relief would be late, but went to an effort to have everything ready. At 2300 Falcon entered, whistling.
Im late. Sorry. Service was slow at Dennys.
Dusty didnt bother to comment that his last break had been the night before. He started with the paper work, but problems both outside Ops, inside Ops and over the phone stretched this hand off to an hour. Dusty fled Ops and spent the next twenty minutes trying to get back into his room. He had to get off base for the night at least. He searched for what hed need for an over night stay someplace else, but after five minutes quit without luck.
Dusty gave up. He changed into the first decent thing he could find and left, once more forgetting his keys. The quite of the night usually was relaxing, but the stress of the day had him jumping at shadows. He eventually reached the public section of the base. For the first time that day, luck was with him; he caught a cab dropping off a young couple.
The cab left post. Dusty actually managed to relax for a few minutes until the cab pulled off to the side with a flat.
Ive got it. Or do you want me to see if another cab can come pick you up?
Ill wait. You want help?
Ive got it. Take it easy. On the other hand, someone swiped my spare. Let me call dispatch.
The driver leaned in, but instead of reaching for the radio, he hit Dusty in the face with a spray. Dusty gasped in shock, and quickly found the world blurring. Hed been aware when hands transferred him to a van, but an injection had ended his twilight.
He had woken up in this room, wearing a straight jacket and the bottom that went with it. The large Cobra symbol on the front told him all he needed to know. It couldnt get any worse than this.