At 1800 hours, Sergeant Cutler entered the barracks. “Attention.”
Snyder stood at attention, but the rest wouldn’t be getting any cigars. He’d have to make sure that everyone knew how to stand by tomorrow. He couldn’t let his platoon look bad. Snyder dropped to the ground and started doing push-ups. The whole platoon would have to for such a pathetic line up, so he might as well get a head start.
Cutler peered down at Snyder. “Um, drop and give me, uh, six.”
Snyder stopped. Six push-ups? “Sir, do you mean sixty, sir?”
His platoon glared.
Cutler growled. “I am the sergeant, I know what I mean. You give me sixty for being smart, everyone else give me six.”
Cutler cleared his throat. “We will work on that tomorrow. How to stand, salute, all that. No mail for tonight. Everyone be sure to observe Light’s Out. Recruit Snyder, once you’re finished with your push-ups, come see me outside.”
“Sir, yes, sir.”
Snyder walked outside and found Sergeant Cutler waiting.
The sergeant said, “We are going to take a little run. Keep up as best you can.”
Snyder had to run at his top speed to keep pace with Cutler. The sergeant hadn’t broke a sweat, or panted. Must take incredible discipline.
After forty-five minutes, near the motorpool, Sergeant Cutler turned. “Halt!”
Snyder stopped. The cool night air began to soothe his burning lungs.
Once Snyder caught his breath, Cutler asked, “You know why I did that?”
Because you’re on a power trip.
“Sir, tell me, sir.”
“You have never been challenged in your life, Snyder. Your siblings and teachers tell you that you’re stupid, but your actual problem is you’re too smart, and don’t like people talking down to you. You are a punk because nobody has made you be something else. That is changing here. I am going to demand more of you than I will anyone else, because you have got the potential for greatness if you don’t waste it.”
Snyder raised an eyebrow. “Where did you get this information?”
Cutler folded his beefy arms. “Where did you find out about basic training?”
Snyder shuffled his feet. “Sources.”
Cutler smiled. “I’ve got my sources, too. Now, let’s get back to the barracks.”
Snyder grunted. So, Cutler has decided to be my new daddy. Who asked him to? I get more than enough of that from Cerulean.
Cutler said, “Snyder, what specialties are you going to pursue?”
“Sir, haven’t decided, Sir.”
“Have you thought about Intelligence?”
Snyder laughed. “Sir, I just need to up my IQ to 125, and pass the hardest logic and technology aptitude tests on the planet, and then I’m in. Easy as cake, Sir.”
“Has your IQ ever been tested?”
Snyder sighed. “Sir, I’m a high school dropout dodging a hate crime rap. Seeing as I’ll hang if I don’t pass the GED, that test is kinda central to my thinking, sir.”
“I see. But we will test your IQ, too.”
Snyder laughed. “Sir, I can be a smart-aleck, sure, but I’ll be thankful to break a hundred. Maybe I should just go to infantry school, sir.”
“Because you’re afraid of failing?”
Snyder snapped, “I’m not afraid of anything, fool!” He forced the fight out of his stance. “I mean, Sir, I’m not afraid of anything, sir.”
“Good. Imagine your days spent gathering information, and then putting together that information and separating the vital from the trivial. That’s Intelligence.”
If only that could happen. “Sir, I’ll never be good enough, sir.”
“Either you are or you aren’t. But you won’t know if you don’t try.”
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