Crossroads, Part Eight

Continued from Part Seven

Snyder sat with several recruits in a chamber full of tear gas. Snyder’s gas mask protected him from any ill effects, but that wouldn’t last. He’d read up on this. When he left the chamber, he’d have to take off the mask and then Cutler would ask a question. If Snyder got it right, he was fine. But if he didn’t, then back with the mask and into the chamber for another fifteen minutes before he would get to try again.

“Come on out!” shouted Cutler.

Snyder and his fellow soldiers went to the edge of the room.

Cutler said, “Remove your mask before leaving the chamber.”

Snyder took a deep breath in, held it, and pulled off the mask.

The gas assaulted his eyes. He scrambled out the door, tears running down his face. He repeated mentally the answer to every question he’d read that Cutler might ask: name, rank, Imperial identification number, unit number, home town.

He stood in line as half his colleagues got sent back.

Snyder was feeling a little better when he got to Cutler.

Cutler said, “Snyder, how do you determine the hypotenuse of a right triangle?”

Snyder’s face fell. “You’re not supposed to ask that.”

“I told you I would be harder on you. Get back in there and next time, have the right answer.”

Snyder grunted, put his gas mask on, and walked back into the chamber. He closed the door. Side A squared + Side B Squared = Side C squared.

He muttered this for the next fifteen minutes. Hopefully Cutler would ask the same question.

Continued…next Thursday

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