The Interview

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Flash Fiction  |  House: Booksie Classic
Former Master Shock Sergeant Lee Johnson participates in an interview with a television crew about the First Battle for Mars. This is part of a much larger novel I am currently writing. Little bits and pieces like this are warm up practices I use to prepare to write dialogue or fighting scenes in my story. I just want to try to put them to good use.

Submitted: October 11, 2016

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Submitted: October 11, 2016

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The Interview…

 

The old man sat in his tiny office surrounded by camera crew, lighting and sound equipment, and the directors and producers.  They spoke among themselves in hushed tones while he sat awkwardly on his stool.  The man was going to be interviewed by a younger gentleman for a documentary about the rebellion.  He didn’t understand why people referred to it as a simple rebellion.  It was more like a full scale war in his opinion.  But when did the opinions of an old man matter?

He turned to look at the glass display case that held his battle armor.  The glass was cleaned to perfection.  At times, the man feared the panes of glass had been removed.  Of course he knew that was ridiculous.  The man asked if he needed to change or get something special ready, but the producer was a nice woman who didn’t care what he wore.  It was a good thing too.  The man wasn’t thin and muscular anymore.  He probably couldn’t fit in his old uniform.  Instead, he adopted a pair of blue jeans and a new polo shirt. 

“I want to thank you for hosting us, Mr. Johnson,” the producer said.

Mr. Johnson just smiled. “Of course.  Where do I begin?”

“If you could,” the director looked around the room. “Just stand by your armor for right now.  We’ll run you through what will be done.”

Cameras changed angles, and the lights were adjusted.  Mr. Johnson groaned as he stood and shuffled over to his display case. 

The interviewer straightened his tie and cleared his throat.  “If you could, will you start with your name and rank?”

Mr. Johnson took a sip of water and sighed. “Hello, my name is Lee Johnson.  I was a master shock sergeant in the Imperial military.  I belonged to the 84th Battalion Shocktroopers.”

“Cut!  Excellent, Mr. Johnson,” the director smiled. “Now, we’re gonna focus on your armor.  You just tell us about it.”

The interviewer cleared his throat again and faced the man.  “So, what can you tell us about this armor?”

Mr. Johnson turned to the case. “This is the Type II Shock armor.” Johnson patted the side of the display case. “It’s really black underneath all that red dust.”

“I noticed you didn’t clean it before putting it in the case,” the interviewer observed.

“Yes, because there’s a story to tell behind it.  I fought my last battle in this suit on Mars.”

“That looks like mud caked on the boots,” the young man pointed out.

“Because it is.  When we were fighting in the Hellas Planitia region,” the old soldier paused for a moment to gather his thoughts. “The fighting was so devastating in the plains around the city of Plato.  The amount of blood spilled there turned the red dirt to mud.” He stopped, lost in thought. “See this scratch on the shin-plate?”

The interviewer leaned down to get a better look. “Yes, I do.”

“When we were walking through all the dead bodies back into Plato, a rebel was hiding under all those bodies.  He reached out with his combat knife to cut me.”

“You got very lucky.  It looks like he could have pierced your undersuit,” said the interviewer.

“Yes,” he trailed off for a moment.  “The Type III armor was introduced not long after the end of the rebellion.  Of course, you know what happened during that time.  I just never bothered to clean this suit.  Since the Type II was obsolete, I was allowed to keep it.  However, my Type III had to be turned back in when I retired.”

“Tell us about the battle.  The fighting in Plato.”

Mr. Johnson took his seat at the stool once more.  “The first bit of the battle was alright.  Nobody really cared about the city of Plato.  It was nothing more than a research outpost.  They were considering flooding that region and make the surrounding territories agricultural fields.  Meanwhile, the city would be used as an underwater research facility, since it was already air tight.  Considering its uselessness, we had no clue why the rebels would want to own the city or attack it.” The old man smiled. “But we didn’t realize…”

“The region is like a bowl,” the interviewer finished. “Easy to take.”

“And very easy to lose.  As we pushed into the city, the small rebel army fled outside the city.  We chased them down and slaughtered them just outside the city.  Once we finally had control of Plato, New Alexandria had fallen to rebel control.  We were basically cut off from any reinforcements or any means of escape,” Johnson jabbed a thumb over his shoulder toward the display case. “It was there where I lost my best friend.” He turned to look at the armor. “If you look closely, you can see two bloody handprints on the shoulder plates.  That’s my best friend’s blood,” the man began to break down and cry.

The crew sat silently, watching him.  The director held up her hand to the crew.  Mr. Johnson hid his face behind his hands, and his body shuddered with his silent sobs.

“Should we stop?” the producer asked. “We can continue some other time-“

“No!” the man interrupted. “No, I can go on.”  He wiped his eyes and blinked away the tears. “My friend was wounded and I carried him out of the city in my arms.  We were basically running panicked like the rebels before us.”

“How did you get out?  Survive?” the interviewer leaned forward curiously.

“That’s simple,” the man’s face darkened. “We stacked the dead and used them as cover.  We built walls and defenses out of corpses.  Those dead men,” he pointed off at nothing for emphasis, “saved our lives!  If we were there holding the city then the rebels attacked, we’d all be dead.  When we ran out of bullets, we picked up the fallen rebels’ weapons.  I still don’t know how we got out of that place, but we made it.  Not all of us, but more than what should’ve come out of that hell hole.”


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